Smoky Mountains Day Two
Two Sickos and Bad Knees
When Aaron and Shannon showed up they both had head colds and my wife has bad knees, so hiking will be somewhat curtailed. We decided on early to bed on Friday and to sleep late on Saturday morning (for their benefit only of course). So by the time we got breakfast done (fabulous bagel , egg and Canadian bacon sandwiches , followed by fresh fruit), we got headed to the hiking trails around 11 AM when the mercury was bumping into the bottom side of 90 degrees. In case you are from a different school of thought, when we say we are going to the Smokies, we mean hiking and playing in waterfalls, not outlet malls and Dollywood. Sickos and bad knees and all.
Porter’s Creek Trail>
We have done many of the main hikes over the years , so we found a minor hike we had never done. It is also not too vertical, a benefit to my wife’s bad knees. The Porter’s Creek trail was just a few miles up highway 321 from our cabin. Well ok, then another 5 miles down twisting gravel roads.
The good news is that up in the river valley , in the shade of old growth forests, the temperature was significantly more hospitable. Note that Porter’s creek is one of the easiest to get to old growth forest trails in the park. I had forgotten how much I love the mossy rocks and giant rhododendrons of the Smokies. It was a pleasant steady uphill hike always in sight Porter Creek. About a mile and a half up the trail crosses the creek on a high log bridge. There is a beautiful swimming hole below the bridge, but we were on our way to the waterfall a half mile farther on. Turns out the hot dry spring the south had experienced left the falls more like a trickle. We could see where it would have been beautiful. After re-fueling and re-watering a bit we started wandering back down. By the time we hit the bridge again , the water hole looked too good. Aaron and I proved our manhood by jumping into the frigid water, clothes and all (yes we should have come prepared). It was cold and a little numbing, but not the “turn you blue” kind of cold. The girls decided to pass, so after a little while to drip dry, we headed back to the parking lot, feeling much less affected by the heat.
We would definitely recommend the Porter’s Creek trail as a short day hike. Don’t forget to stop and see the historic cabin and barn just off the trail. We learned about it at the visitor information center AFTER we got back from the hike.
Crash for Rest of the Day
Aaron and Shannon were pretty whipped so the rest of the day was down time. With a home cooked vegetarian meal of stuffed shells and asparagus. With the outside temperature at the cabin staying very toasty, we were very pleased with the decision to rent an air conditioned luxury cabin rather than our usual tenting accommodations. At the end of the day we hit the hot tub. The contrast of the 103 degrees with the swimming hole was impressive. At first, it seems crazy to get in an outside hot tub in hot weather, but actually it works great. You soak yourself into melted bliss and then retreat back to the air conditioned cabin. Fabulous.