Saturday, July 17, 2010

Smith Creek Trail

The weather forecast called for rain today. Sort of. 50/50 chance. Everybody I knew was getting a quick ride in. I was hoping to get in a long day, but I really didn't want to ride in the rain, so the girls and I went up to Helen to hike Smith Creek Trail.

 Smith Creek Trailhead

I called up Clark, but he was busy all day. Just me and the girls.

At the trailhead there was this sign, talking about the Sautee Ditch.

 Sautee Ditch

Apparently way back, they'd created a canal, collecting up Smith Creek's feeder streams and sending them down to a mill of some kind, somehow involved in gold mining. The ditch is still there, for the most part. Some of the streams have eaten through it, but many of the dry prongs still end at the ditch. The trail leaves the lot, parallels the ditch, enters it, follows it for a while, then diverges, paralleling the ditch again before finally ascending the south side of Hickory Nut Ridge along an un-named creek, parallel to the Hickory Nut Trail.

 Girls on Bridge

For a while, the trail followed an old roadbed, diverging briefly into singletrack to bypass old fords.

 Smith Creek Trail

I didn't see a ton of odd foliage or strange terrain, but it was extremely ferny at a surprisingly low altitude.


Moments after snapping that pic, we watched a young black bear climb down a tree and straight up an incredibly steep hill. He kept an eye on us over his shoulder as he climbed. It was the first black bear the girls had never seen in the wild and they were awestruck. I had as much fun watching their faces as watching the bear.

The trail eventually became pure singletrack and wound around, up, and over Hickory Nut Ridge. Now and again there were rocks to scramble over.

 Girls on Rocks

And then it rained. The girls generally hate getting caught in the rain, but today we brought dry clothes to change into, talked about how we would almost certainly get caught in the rain before even leaving the house, and perhaps most importantly, all wore hats. I didn't hear a word of negativity. To my amazement, they actually had fun walking in the rain.


About 20 minutes later the rain quit and we got caught and passed by a family who'd been parking their car when we left. It looked like a dad and his three daughters. His two older girls looked to be about the same ages as mine and his younger daughter was about 4 years old. They were trucking. I was impressed.

The Smith Creek Trail ends at Anna Ruby Falls.

 Girls at Anna Ruby Falls

Iz declared that the falls on the left was Anna Falls and the falls on the right was Ruby Falls.

Everybody there was wearing a poncho. Most were smoking. It seemed way out of place to see folks smoking, way up in the woods, but really, there's a parking lot less than half a mile downstream. Fat lot of good it did us though, we were parked 5 miles away.

Back on the trail. It had taken us right at 2 and a half hours so far, including a short stop about halfway in. We tried to pick it up a bit on the way back, but all three of us were struggling. We stopped at the halfway point again, pounded Clif Blocks and potato chips and 3 minutes later, everything was all right. Our legs were back, and it helped that it was all downhill from there too.



It was uneventful after that. 5:20 for the round trip. Good job girls. Good job.

I was really impressed with them today. They moved with a purpose. They talked and joked and laughed. They helped each other out. They shared. Zero negativity.

We topped it off with dinner at the Troll Tavern. I kind of wanted to go somewhere else, but the girls both wanted to go there, and honestly, they earned it.

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