Smoky Mountains Family Vacation
Day 5: Baskins Creek and That’s a Wrap!
|A lovely view from early in the trail. Since it was all uphill heading back, we were even MORE grateful to see this the second time around!|
At this point, I finally found a reliable website for analyzing trails. Hiking in the smoky’s (hikinginthesmokys.com) includes a succinct overview of each trail, including total trail length, features you will see and (THIS IS KEY!) elevation gain. (The site then continues to offer a very accurately detailed description of the walk-through…and I am not getting paid to advertise!)
I found the elevation gain stats to be much more useful than the overall trail difficulty rating. I mean…I don’t like to consider myself completely out of shape (and there were others less fortunate than myself on many of the trails we conquered), but what many websites rated a 5 or 6, I would tend to give a 5,000. I don’t know upon what type of person we tend to base these difficulty ratings, but I am picturing The Avengers, when it comes to anything rated over a 6.
So, when I started leaning toward Porter’s Creek, I also started plotting our getaway.
|Remains of the past fire (circa 2016??) were sobering.|
I found myself getting close to ready to leave nearing 10 am. I was craving a decent hike, and Porter’s Creek appeared to rank just a bit under our first SMNP undertaking, Alum Cave.
From the website:
Porter’s Creek - Rating -5.4, 699 ft. elevation gain, 4 miles total length.
Alum Cave - Rating - 6.65, 1125 ft elevation gain, 4.4 miles total length.
So…I tenderly approached all the sleeping children with a quick and gentle message. After all, I wanted everyone to have a choice: “Dad and I are going for a hike. Anyone can come, but we are leaving now…like, in 10-15 minutes.”
To my complete and utter surprise, not ONE of those kids wanted to jump up from their solid slumber to go on a mom-planned hike!
|No ticks this round. We save those for our anniversary. Sigh...|
I set the gps and bolted out the door, assuming we would be home before noon.
I imagine the beginning of that drive felt somewhat like the drive of a captive upon initial release from prison. (When I picture it in my head, I title it “Freebird.) It felt somewhat illicit, but only in a way that contributed to our joy.
So...Imagine our disappointment when we encountered a big, ginormous road block about 10 miles ahead of our destination.
I remain convinced that the fault lies with the park services and NOT my poor planning. Regardless, I was stuck in a stressed out panic trying to reassess our route - my freedom quickly ticking, menacingly, away - amidst VERY limited cell service.
|I don't know what to say...picture the "Debbie Downer" tones.|
Not to fear my friends. As ALWAYS, I came through in the clutch.
At the first sign of data, I spun the wheel of open tabs and opted for the first one upon which I landed. With the grace of a geezer with two left thumbs, I somehow managed to finally enter and submit Baskins Creek into the route of our “faithful” tour guide (sarcasm DEFINITELY intended) and we were off on our altered course:
Baskins Creek - rating 4.91, 953 ft gain, 3 miles total length.
|Fortunately, I did NOT fall down this one...|
I have two pieces of advice for you, if you consider hiking on this trail. 1) Go to the bathroom and don’t drink ANYTHING before your hike. 2) Don’t choose a day with time constraints. Baskins Creek happens to be on the same loop as a few other popular trails (like Rainbow Falls). It is a one way loop, so once you are on the road, you are stuck on the road for its duration…and rules - like, about single vs. two lanes and what is/is not a “good” parking spot - are flexible in the Smoky Mountains. So…be careful out there!
Matt and I have an oddly hilarious pattern of interrupted romantic moments. For example, we were getting ready to ride the sky tour at Disney on our honeymoon, and an excited, single, foreign gentleman hopped on with us. (I took a picture for him, and we still laugh about it.) In Iceland, we were on a long, peaceful walk around a lake in the suburbs when we happened upon a rather enthusiastic man in a speedo. (We were told the Icelanders were particularly excited about the rare good weather that week.)
|I call this one, "Heart-Shaped Rox."|
On our Baskins Creek hike, we spent a lot of time swaying between gratitude and worry that we were (like LITERALLY) the only ones on the trail. There were a couple of moments when the privacy brought me great relief. It happened to be a bit slick in spots, and Matt was extremely uptight about me falling. (He was so uptight, in fact, that I started shouting, “I’m fine. I’m fine!,” even as I fell.)
It wasn’t long after one of these falls, about an hour into our isolated hike, that we were startled by a rather unfriendly, suggestive, “Uhhhhh…”
Fortunately, what Matt claims he thought was Sasquatch was just a rude teenager, who obviously didn’t have the ability to smile and say “Excuse me,” or even a “Hello! Coming up on your left.” All we ever got out of the little creep was that snotty monosyllable (apparent) request to pass.
|I took my chances (and he LET ME!) at more falls to brave the falls. Now, THAT was a cold shower!|
I know it is impossible for you to tell, but I was a little bit annoyed by the intrusion. (I’d left my own rude teenagers back at the cabin for a reason, my friends.) Fortunately, our destination was just around the (precariously rocky and steeply, declining) bend. Even better, we hung around for the 5 minutes the kid and his unfortunate “party” stayed at the beautiful falls, and I was actually able to enjoy the moment after they had left.
Ahhh! We took a minute to relish in the beauty, before we headed back to our crew, where we would finish our trip in tourist style. We took the kids into Pigeon Forge town, set them shopping for their souvenirs and paid for a ridiculously expensive evening of mini-golf. (I regretted the 2-courses decision within the first two holes of the first 18-hole course, but…we kept our smiles and made the best of it.)
While we were all sad to say goodnight to the Smoky Mountains, we went to bed grateful for the time we got to spend. And we were even more grateful when our 11…12…???? Whatever-hour drive had brought us back to the place we love to call home.
|I'm pretty sure he got a hole in one every game the second round. It may have helped things that we put him in a group with just myself and Matt.|
|Just a couple of very serious golfers here. And probably tired.|
|My goof. What can I say? He's a loyal, beloved goof.|