April 17-18, 2021
Psalm 104:1 (KJV)
Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.
He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
I woke up around 6:30 am at campsite 39. There was a faint glow of light showing through my tarp. I climbed out of my sleeping bag into the cold morning and made some coffee. Sitting down and thumbing through my tiny Gideon’s Bible, I read Psalm 104. Soon the sunlight shone upon the Shanty Mountain Ridge, and the day began.
Johnny and I had a relatively easy Saturday, as we parked at the Cataloochee area and hiked 1.8 miles to Campsite 39. We found a perfect spot next to a creek at the top of the site. Someone camping the night before had (accidentally?) left hot coals. We took advantage and got a fire going. I love the feeling of sitting in the woods. No incessant pings of cell phones, no interruptions.
Sunday morning, after my time reading; I hiked the Palmer Creek Trail. It is a stunning hike, running from Pretty Hollow Gap Trail to Balsam Mountain Road. From east to west, the trail rises roughly 1,550 ft. over 3.3 miles. Below the trail, the gorgeous Palmer Creek thunders through the valley. Log bridges traverse the creek; rocks smoothed over time litter the bed. The clamorous creek is soon left behind as the branches and springs that feed it from the mountains become fewer and fewer. It was amazing to hike it in the early mountain hours with the sun shining upon the trees and the crisp spring air in my lungs.
Total mileage is 10.98 miles.