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The Cades Cove Hike and, oy, Loop Drive.

Posted 05-24-2013 at 08:03 PM by BillB44

We had a cereal, toast & fruit breakfast so we could get a jump on traffic this Tuesday morning. We’re heading to an apparently very popular one-way loop drive through what sounds like a bucolic valley called Cades Cove. It’s 19 miles away, on 30-mph windy roads thru densely treed woods. We didn’t beat the throngs.

Here’s the thing about Cades Cove: it was first settled in 1821 by a handful of intrepid pioneers who carved out a little community despite the remote location and roaming Cherokees. It’s a pain to get to by air conditioned Ford pick-up; imagine in a rickety buckboard w/o AC or CDs.

They hewn log homes and churches and mills, many of which are still here in restored form. We stopped and hiked in to see some. Particularly liked a concept they had called a “stranger room.” An attached room to give visitors shelter but not direct access to the inside of the cabin. We’re thinking this might be a nice addition to our house for certain guests. (No, not YOU.)

But, at least the old timers didn’t have to contend with the things we did: a thousand cars in a row, all driven by idiot humanoids who hesitate or completely stop at the first sign of any living animal. A squirrel would bring the entire caravan to a stop.

Seriously, we had two times when the traffic on this skinny one-way road completely stopped, then eventually crawled (and I mean
CRAWLED; people were getting out and walking past the cars) for about 30-40 minutes! (Turns out a black bear and her cubs were the culprits.)

I had time to write a song called “People” sung to the Barbara Streisand classic: “People, people, people who are people, are the stupidest people in the world.” It goes on but you get the idea. People would spy a real live animal then stop in the middle of the road and send repercussions two or three hundred cars back, so they could snap a pic or two in the middle of the road. The people in the next car, wondering what the idiots in front of them stopped for, would stop and gawk too; the third car would do likewise, etc., etc. Never mind there are signs like below all along the route!:

It’s probably an exaggeration to say I hate people in general, but there is some truth to it. Anyway, humans aside, we finally got to our destination, the Abram’s Falls trail, a 5 -miler of “moderate” difficulty. We’ve done a fair amount of hiking and tend to pass up many trail dawdlers but it takes 80 degrees in 85% humidity to remind you how far 5 miles by foot can feel. This was a toughie and KB was having some issues coming back in the steep & sun but she hung in there and we did it all in 3 hours, counting a 15-minute stop at the so-so falls to wade in the cold water and catch our breath. And catch a butterfly resting on my fanny pack.

We got back to the Spud (after a final, tortuous hour on the one-way loop from hell) just in time for the heavens to open up and pour rain upon our campsite and thunderbolts (that must really mean lightning bolts) all about us. I mean, all hell broke loose for about three hours. Enough that we are re-considering staying here for a third night; there is SO little to do when it pours and you’re camping w/o hook-ups. That said, we thank the Almighty we aren’t the ones huddled in their tents. And fortunately we had a P.F. Chang’s frozen dinner (see Wal-Mart shopping spree above) to simplify dinner in the deluge.

We’ll evaluate our schedule tomorrow, which is supposed to also bring T-Storms.
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