3/20/2008

We ate breakfast at the motel. After we loaded up the van, we headed to the Sugarland Visitor’s Center for some advice about hikes. We decided to hike the Gregory Ridge Trail from Cades Cove up to the Gregory Bald Trail. Then we would take that trail to Gregory Bald.

We got to the parking lot for the trail about 11:30. The temp was about 40 degrees.  We packed up and headed out.

After crossing the first of three bridges over Forge Creek, we noticed that a stream the was supposed to drain across the trail was draining along the trail instead.  The problem was that a drainage trench on the downhill side of the trail was clogged with debris from the storm yesterday.  We spent about 15 minutes clearing the clog so the stream would drain correctly.

After crossing the other two bridges, the trail passed a campground and headed into switchbacks that led to Gregory Ridge.

We stopped for a quick lunch and rest on the switchbacks. Further up the trail, we noticed something falling out of the trees. It took us a while to realize it was ice from yesterday’s storm and last nights freeze at the higher elevations. As we got higher, there was more ice. The trees glistened with a whitish glow in the sun.

We passed in and out of these ice forests, depending on which side of the mountain we were on. We stopped often for pictures.

After 4.9 miles, we came to the junction with Gregory Bald Trail. We took it 0.6 miles to Gregory Bald. We got there around 4:30. The temperature was around 40 degrees. The elevation was 4,949 feet, putting us a little over 3,000 feet from the parking lot.

The wind was making us uncomfortable, so we stayed only about 20 minutes. There were good views on both sides of the bald. Cades Cove was to the northeast about 7 miles away.

We retraced our route to get back down. The car was a welcome sight after 11 miles of hiking. We got there around 7:00.

We drove back from Cades Cove to the hotel. Then we walked across the street for a meal at Cherokee Grill.

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