Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Sawnee Mountain

When the girls were young, I took them up Sawnee Mountain to the Indian Seats nearly every week, to "see the whole world". I'm not sure about Iz, but Sophie remembers it fondly. Her 16th birthday is coming up next month, and to celebrate, she wants to take a group of her friends up to the Indian Seats too.

She has a plan lined out for the day, but last weekend she wanted to scout the trail. It's been years since we've been up there, and for all we knew, it might have been rerouted, closed, or who knows what.

Oh, contraire!

It was more popular than ever! The parking lot was completely full, and the county had even built a second phase on the other side of the road.


The trail itself was a little different though. The soil is mainly decomposed granite, and it was originally built as an outsloped bench cut, but it was a little wide - between 4 and 6 feet in most places. As a result, it doesn't drain quite as well as it ought to. In some places, it was chunky on the upslope side and sandy on the downslope, and you could see where people have been avoiding both and widening the trail. They say hiking trails are especially susceptible to creep. I'd seen very old evidence of it on some trails in the NF, which appeared to have crept and crept over the years before finally settling in, but I'd never seen it in action until this past weekend.

Sophie on the Indian Seats Trail

You can kind-of see the creep in this photo. The original route was to the left of the tree, but it's gotten chunky and the popular route these days is to the right.

But enough of that nerdity.

The girls always liked to climb on these rocks, near the bottom of the trail. Sophie recognized them right away and here she is standing on that same rock 11 or 12 years later.

Sophie on a Rock

On the way to the top, we must have passed a dozen groups coming up and down. Way back, we might have seen one other couple all day.

It could almost be described as crowded at the top, too.

We had to wait our turn at the Indian Seats.

The Indian Seats

But we did, and we got to sit in them, once again.

Sophie in an Indian Seat

The whole world was still there too.

View from the Indian Seats Sophie at the Top of Sawnee Mountain

It was a little too hazy to make out the Blue Ridge, but the Burnt Mountain system was pretty visible. I used to know the names of the peaks in the distance, but standing there, I couldn't remember them.

Awesome. It didn't look like her plans were in jeopardy, except maybe from crowds.

The hike back was slightly more interesting than the hike up. They'd rerouted the trail a bit and my map wasn't exactly accurate any more. Fortunately, every major corner now has a map. Apparently the Indian Seats and Laurel Trails had been merged into one trail, and the Interpretive Center Trail had been renamed Laurel Trail Spur. I thought this was funny because there was no actual Laurel Trail to spur off of any more.

I think it took us 45 minutes to hike up, mill around a bit, and hike and back down. We figured we should double that for the group, and add some extra time for snacks and fooling around at the overlook. Even with those numbers though, her timetable for the day ought to work out fine.


On the way home, we stopped by the Dutch Monkey (of course) and nuked our respective pancreata.

Insulin response never tasted so good!

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