With the weather starting to cool off, it was time to take a break from work and head out for a pre-fall camping trip. The TC had been sitting in the storage yard way to long and I wasn't going to wait on the family any longer. I was bound and determined to make this a much slower trip than my TN Whirlwind and prmoised myself I would stop sooner and drive less miles.
So with a week's vacation, I pulled out of the office at lunch time on Friday and was able to make the Walmart in Johnson City, TN by 7:30 giving time to stretch my legs and enjoy a wonderful sunset.
Next day, I enjoyed the smaller back roads up to Cumberland Gap NP where I had camped set up by 2pm allowing plenty of time to hike up to the Gap and sneak a peak in the old entrance toCumberland Gap Cave.
Even took the time to head up to the ampitheatre to enjoy some local singing folk music.
After a peaceful night sleeping, I crossed the Gap and found some more back roads to explore. With no place in mind except staying near the Appalachian Ridge, I wasn't in a hurry. After leaving the paved roads for some gravel roads, my forward progress was abrutly halted by at a Tee in the road. One way was a WASHOUT and impassable, the other way looked uninviting for a TC. I did see an interesting sign though that was a simple 24"x24" white plywood with the the word "Wilderness Trail Off Road Park". After taking a picture for future investigation ( Wilderness Trail Off Road Park), I turned aroound and started exploring a different route. About 15 miles later, I came upon another sign for the Off Road Park but now the gravel road was passable, even for my TC.
After stopping and taking some short hikes to explore side trails, I met an ATVer who was able to answer my question: "Was roadside camping allowed". The reply, in a Kentuckian draw, was "Yes". He explained he was part of the club that helped maintain the trails, a bunch of good folks, and no one would bother me. So on up the road to find a spot for the night.
Found a side trail that I should have stayed off, but it went up and looked challenging. After a leaving a few deep differential grooves, I found the right line after stacking a few rocks and made it up to the top where I found a great place to stop for a while.
It was way too early to stop at 12:30, but after thinking about where the sun would set and rise, along with remembering my promise to really enjoy this trip, I decided it was the perfect stop. It was nothing more than the a place on the side of an ATV trails, but the views were the best yet. I spent the evening snapping 300+ pics; looking up insects, trees, etc; and working a few suduko puzzle.
Turns out, after about 6pm, the closest I saw anyone was at a house on the mountain side about 2-1/2 miles and people camping about 3 miles. This was a major accomplishment for me as it was the first night I spent absolutely alone, something I've been too nervous to do in the past. Did wake a few times during the night from nerves, but was always able to easily turn over and go back to sleep at the sound of nothing.
In the morning, I was greeted with all of the surrounding valleys filled with fog and a sun still below the horizon. So I took another couple hundred pics.
After sunrise, I made what I thought was the only challenge getting out, a steep hill climb that I knew wouldn't be a problem. However, I did have my tripod with me so was able to make a short video clip of the ascent. Of course, a few more pics were in order.
Then it was a nice ride down into the fog. A few parts of the road had some severe wash, but I was either able to stradle the ruts or drive beside them. Finally made it by some neighbor for the night, one of which was enjoying breakfast.
I drove too far this day but made Breaks Interstate State Park that night. After spending the previous night without anyone around, the campground seemed aweful noisy. Only nice thing was the campsite I picked still had a fire going with enough wood for me to enjoy the evening. In the morning, I went over and viewed what is referred to "Grand Canyon of the South", a 1,000 deep gorge.
Then it was on to Julian Price on the Blue Ridge Parkway followed by a day travelling south in some nasty weather.
I had planned on being on the road for three more nights, but gravity decided to change my plans. I had just started a short hike when I slipped and fell about 12' landing hard on my right ankle. After one foot hopping back to my camper, I realized this wasn't something that was going to be better in a few hours or the next day. So next thought was how to get my manual transmission truck 300 miles home. Since I couldn't put weight on the foot but could still work the throttle, I decided to drive the 7 hours home.
After getting near home, I met my wife at Health First where x-rays revealed a fractured heel bone. With a splint and wrappings, I was sent on my way. Luckily, my youngest daughter has had a few lessons driving the truck, so she was able to drive it home from there.
I really lucked up on the fall as nothing was extremely serious, I was able to get back to the truck, and I'll be walking on the foot in less than four weeks from the time of the accident. So, it'll be a short bit til my next trip report, but I'll be back, just a bit more cautious when out hiking.
Hope you enjoyed the pics and if you are interested in more pics, as always, click on the link in my signature for my photo album.
* This post was
edited 09/19/10 07:03pm by kohldad *
2004.5 Ram 3500 4x4 Quad-Cab SRW CTD 6-spd, XD9000 winch
2004 Lance 815 (an upgrade from my prev 2005 35' fiver )
DW (homemaker), 1 DD @ Clemson in Civil Eng (Dec 2013) w/SIL, 1 DD Tech Grad (home but employed), 2 DFs (meow)
Hey Kohldad, Excellent pictures and trip report, excellent! And be careful, camping alone is addictive. You can do what you want when you want, or not. Of course you give up certain things too, like eating.