December 1, 2017
The November Classic Hike of the Smokies was led by Gracia Slater, who lacks just three short hikes to complete her second “map” – completing all 900 miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
by Gracia Slater
We had a perfect day weather-wise for this lollipop-shaped hike from the tunnel on Lakeshore-White Oak Branch-Forney Creek-Lakeshore, with side trips down to the lake from campsite #74 and to the Woody (Family) Cemetery — for a total of 9.4 miles.
There were 12 enthusiastic hikers — just the right number for an enjoyable day for all. We ate lunch at campsite #74.
One of the neat things about this hike is there are options to add a little more or stick to the basic hike.
For instance, four of us took the tunnel bypass trail back to the cars, which added one extra mile. Two of our group are considering working toward becoming 900 Milers, so it was nice for them to get in this 1.6-mile trail without making an extra trip to Bryson City. Danny Bernstein and Marielle DeJong led the others back to their cars via the tunnel.
Earlier this year, my husband, John, and I attended Decoration Day at the Woody Cemetery and were made welcome. It is a moving event for the families and for those of us who love the park and its history.
Even though there are a lot of graves there, there is only one Woody family member left. Twenty-four Woody family member graves were moved to the Luada Cemetery in Bryson City when the park service offered to re-inter those from grave-sites that would be under the water of Fontana lake and grave-sites near the lake.
As volunteers, John and I kept up Lakeshore Trail from the tunnel to Campsite # 74 and also the campsite for several years in the 1990s. So, we are very familiar with this trail and feel right at home there.
We have been members of Friends of the Smokies for many years. We think it is important to lend our support both financially and with our volunteer work. I also hike with the Margaret Stevenson Wednesday Hikers and support the endowment fund in her name in the Trails Forever program.
The place I feel most fully alive is on the trail in the Smokies. Every day, we think about how blessed we are to live so close to this national treasure.
Thanks to Linda Spangler for providing photos of the hike. Visit Friends of the Smokies on Facebook to see more photos.
The final Classic Hike of the Smokies for 2017 will be the Little River and Cucumber Gap Trails. The 7-mile hike will be on Tuesday, Dec. 12, and will include a walk through the Elkmont district, including recently restored cabins. Author and hiking expert Danny Bernstein will lead the group. Hikers also will have the opportunity to do some holiday shopping at the Sugarlands Visitor Center.
The monthly guided day hikes in the Classic Hikes series are $20 for members. New and renewing members may join Friends of the Smokies and hike for $35. Donations benefit Friends of the Smokies’ Trails Forever program, which provides the opportunity for a highly skilled trail crew to focus reconstruction efforts on high use and high priority trails in the park. The current restoration project is Rainbow Falls.
The 2018 Classic Hikes of the Smokies series will begin in March, and routes will be announced after the new year.