MEGA Hiking

Trail Map
This past weekend, Michele had some free time so, we went hiking around her neck of the woods. I was just gonna show up at her place and we’d look at a map and figure out what we are going to do. This can be a fun way to choose a trail, because you don’t exactly know what the trail is gonna be like. Some of the ideas thrown around was Roan Mountain, the Appalachian Trail (AT) around Beauty spot, and a bunch of waterfalls around Hampton, TN. The weather report was calling for likely afternoon/evening storms. Because of that, we decided to do the waterfalls around Hampton, TN.

At first we started out on trail #39 (Laurel Fork). It looked like we could do a 8.5 mile loop and see 3 waterfalls. Of course the downside to our method was being unsure of what the creek crossings would be like. Sometimes they might be bridged, sometimes you might be able to rock hop, and other times you gotta go for a swim. Well about a mile into the trail, we approached the first creek, and neither of us was prepared to go for a swim, so we turned around. The water looked to be about 5 feet deep. There wasn’t any easily accessible paths upstream or downstream, so we just turned around.

We looked at the map again and decided to go MEGA along the AT. The AT is a 2175 mile trail that runs from Maine to Georgia. Thru hiker’s usually start out in Georgia and hike to Maine. This is the north bound route that is called GAME. The section we hiked was in a south bound direction called MEGA. We would follow the white blazes until we intersected with the blue blazed Coon Den Falls trail #37. I was surprised at just how few people we encountered on the trail. The only person we encountered on the trail had his dogs with him. His black dog was actually the first thing I encountered. It gave me a little jump. The trail had crossed a field and was about to enter into the forest again. As I was entering the forest, I see a black animal about the size of a baby cub running at me. I got startled a little bit, but soon realized it was just a dog. A baby cub would mean that mamma isn’t too far away. Along the way there were a couple of nice viewpoints where the AT reached the top of the ridge. We eventually arrived at Coon Den Falls. Here’s an odd thing… on the map we were using (National Geographic) they had this waterfall marked but Laurel Falls was not marked. (Laurel Falls is in the same area and is much more impressive.)
Coon Den Falls
After doing what was about about a 5 mile loop, we still had a lot of time. Again, we looked at the map and determined that we would go to Beauty Spot. Beauty Spot is a bald along the AT near Erwin, TN. Even though it was cloudy, the name Beauty Spot seems apt.
Beauty Spot
The second hiker we encountered of the day was on this trail. The funny thing about this hiker, was it wasn’t human. It was actually a quail. Instead of flying off like most birds would have done, this bird just kept going down the trail. We probably followed the bird for about half a mile. It was just funny how it stuck to the trail.
A quail hiking the AT
Finally to top of the day, we were both hungry and wanted to get something to eat. We had narrowed our choices down to American or Italian. Then Michele remembered a restaurant called Cootie Brown’s. I thought Cootie Brown’s would be fun name to have in a blog post, so that’s were we ended up eating at. They serve a variety of “Real Food”. Although we had both thrown away Mexican as a choice, we ended up eating Mexican there. If you’re ever in Johnson City, I’d recommend stopping by this unique restaurant.