Wednesday, January 6, 2010

HIKING AT ABRAMS CREEK WITH WONDER DOG


click on photos to enlarge

Abrams Creek Campground is a small semi primitive campground with 16 camp sites.  There are no showers or electrical hookups for RVs.  That breaks my heart.  It is located just 8 miles from where the Foothills Parkway joins Rt 129.  The elevation of the campground is at 1125 feet and it is located within the boundaries of the Great Smoky Mountain Park.  I noticed that the camp spots were manicured and neat with a nice layout to them.  I have never stayed here before but I imagine the sites would fill up rapidly in the Summer months with tourists.   Campground operations commence the first weekend of March.  There isn't a soul anywhere near here today.  I have the entire place to myself.   The temperature is hovering around 26 degrees today and I can't even find an animal to photograph.  Ooops;  spoke too soon:

Douglas and I walked through the campground and followed a beautiful trail that winds along  Abrams Creek itself.  The trail is very wide and it is gorgeous.  The sun is high in the sky and all earth bound objects have a certain texture created by the bright light filtering down through the trees.

This trail is so beautiful that I can't resist taking numerous photos of it.  I wish I had brought some water.  If I had;  we could have stayed out here the entire day.  There is a cross trail further up the mountain where the trails split toward Abrams Falls and Cades Cove.  That point is 3.5 miles up.  We'll turn back at that point.  But, for now we are enjoying some of the most beautiful forest in Tennessee.

The water in Abrams Creek is very cold.  Don't ask me how I know.  Douglas doesn't seem to care.  But, I do.  It has a bright green or vivid blue;  depending how the sunlight strikes the surface.  This is one fine stream.

Trees fall across the trail every Summer and Winter.  The park service must clear the trails constantly.  The park service places the cut logs along the trail as they cut the fallen trees into pieces in the Fall and Spring.  I guess there isn't much they can do with them way back here.


I wasn't too sure how the ol legs would hold up on this hike as it's been awhile since I seriously tried to cover a lot of ground in a short time.  But, I guess all the weekly outings with the dogs keep the joints limber.  Paddling a canoe might help somewhat too.  I don't know.  But, we have been keeping a brisk pace and haven't slowed down for any reason other than to take an occasional picture.  I sure wish I had a bottle of water though.  Number one rule in hiking;  stay hydrated.. 

The forest appears to be primarily made up of Hemlocks, Spruce and Pines.  Some of these trees are emense.  Thank you National Park for preserving them.

Douglas was having great fun.  He would lope on ahead, the distance from me in the picture above, and stop and look back to assure himself I was coming.  He never leaves sight of me.  Other dogs may walk directly at the owners side but the hunting breeds have that search and find instinct in them and it is practically impossible to keep them at your side.  I don't mind him wandering about as long as I can see him.

I can see from the signs above that Douglas and I have a lot more walking to do around here in the future-------another time.  For now;  we'll continue on.  The proper name of this trail is Cooper Road Trail, I guess.


The sound of large woodpeckers could be heard for the past half hour.  I have been keeping a lookout but so far have seen none.  The bird making all that pounding racket is a big one for sure.  We'll keep a sharp eye out for him.

I would recommend this hike to anyone who is challenged by difficult hiking conditions.  There are a few hills and an occasional log to step over but, thats about all.  This is a wonderful place to acclimate the younger in the family to the wonderful outdoors.  The bonus is that it's in the National Park.  I would rate it an easy hike although I do not know what lays further than our turn around point.

I haven't back packed in years but, found myself moving at a brisk pace.  It was a familiar pace.  It was a pace that was not foreign to me.  It is a speed that I had always felt comfortable with when carrying a pack on my back while hiking the trails in Pennsylvania.  Funny thing how the body remembers and just takes over the hiking process.  No mental thought to it;  just go and the legs seem to set their own cadence according to how they're trained.  All the while I am attuned to everything around me.  I see the dead tree over on the right with the hole in the trunk, the dark spot on the side of a limb that may be a squirrel, the sound of tiny feet rattling the leaves indicating a squirrel is about and of course;   where Douglas is.  And that jack hammer thumping.  Where is that woodpecker?  Ah ha!

He is a pileated woodpecker and he is banging his brains out.   The bird is far away in a tall dead tree.  I wish I had my 400mm lens on the camera but, the 300mm should do a reasonable job.

These shots of the woodpecker leave a lot to be desired.  It is a great distance and I've done the best I could with what I had.  "Douglas;  come lets go."


I guess some really giant trees get blown across this trail.  These were huge trees.

Below indicates the point where we have to start our return walk.  This is as far as I care to go without drinking water.

Douglas would just as soon keep right on going. 

Douglas has a heart as big as the sky.  He belongs in this element and it shows.  His ears lift at the various sounds and he focuses his eyes on anything and everything with penetrating scrutiny.  I am constantly amazed at how he changes when I take him out of the yard at home and into this environment.

He is totally in tune with his surroundings.  No movement goes unnoticed and no sound goes unheard.

Thats my boy and I'm proud of him.


I guess I talk about Douglas a lot and I guess it can be a boring subject to many.  But, I love him and he means the world to me.  We have been through a lot together and he has gotten me through some pretty depressing times just by being there for me.  He's my sidekick and that's just how it is I guess.  To me he's a wonder dog.

We are almost back now.  The scenery looks all different going the other direction on the same trail.  It's sort of a bonus.



I walked over to a sign in the parking lot and discovered some amazing information.  Read the message about two species of fish.  Pay particular attention the the paragraph (Whats the Concern?) Amazing!


I walked over under a tree and sat at a picnic table.  I guess I wanted to avoid getting into the truck and leaving.  This is usually how it goes with me at the end of an outing or an adventure.  I always hate to leave.  Douglas lay down over to my left.  He never was a huggy, feeley, pet me kind of dog.  Never has he been all over me or under foot.  He remains aloof most of the time.  When he wants attention he will approach me and from a distance, stop, stare at me and make low guttural sounds that gradually become more audible until I show him recognition.  At that point he will approach and sit beside me for a scratch behind his ear and a back rub.  Then he will move away and lay down.  It's just his way.  He lays on the ground away from me.  But he watches my every move.

It grows colder.  Soon we shall leave.  But, there is just enough time to chase one squirrel up a tree. I whisper Douglas, Douglas, Douglas under my breath.


It's time to get in the truck and fire up the heater.  I didn't bring gloves either.  No water and no gloves.  I'm a mess.  Maybe I better stay on the water where I'm safe.  Uh Huh!   Tomorrow is back to work.  Maybe I can scare up an eagle or two next outing.  Until then;  be kind to a dog......