One of the Best Views in the Smokies

This weekend was the Senior Guys retreat. The purpose of the retreat was to help the guys get ready to make the transition from high school to college. Originally we had planned on backpacking the Lakeshore Trail, but thanks in part to people’s work schedules, we had to plan something else. The first thing that got planned was whitewater rafting down the Pigeon River. Knowing that all the whitewater rafting places are off of Hartford Rd (exit 447), the best places to camp out would be either Cosby or Big Creek. I wanted to do a day hike on Friday, so after looking at the available hikes out of each area, I decided that we should camp at Cosby. The unfortunate thing about Cosby, is that most of the hikes out of it are very steep. The hike I picked was very difficult, but ultimately has the best pay-off. We would start out at the Cosby Campground, go up Low Gap, and take the A.T. to the Cammerer Spur trail.
Low Gap to Cammerer
Elevation Profile

The group started out as Hoss, Thomas, Paul, Landon, and myself. As we were about to get to the edge of the campgrounds, Hoss realized his hip and back would probably not be able to keep up. So he said he’d go back to camp and set up and get food. It was a good call on his part. I told him we should be back around 7:30 (we left around 2:30). The rest of us made our way up the mountain. After 2.9 miles, we briefly stopped at Low Gap for some food and made our way onto Cammerer. At the intersection of the A.T. and the Cammerer spur trail (2.1 miles from Low Gap), we ran into a group of folks doing work on the A.T. After a short .6 mile hike, we arrived at the Mount Cammerer Firetower. This is really one of the best views in the Smoky Mountains. You can see all around.
Cammerer Firetower
You’ll just have to look at my Album for the rest of the pictures.

We left the firetower at 5:30. On our way back, we ran into some backpackers that were making their way to the Cosby Knob shelter. They seemed a little down about how the trail just seems to keep going up. We assured them that there is only a little bit more up and the trail will be down or flat for the next couple of miles. This seemed to lift their spirits up. As we were making our way to Low Gap, it was getting darker and the temperature had dropped about 10 degrees. I knew this meant one thing. Paul and Thomas had gotten a few minutes ahead of Landon and me. At Low Gap, I advised that we should stick close together because a storm has rolled in and we are about to get wet. Sure enough, within five minutes, we were in the storm. It wasn’t anything severe, just mostly rain. Everyone had a raincoat or poncho, so we continued to make our way back down. We eventually arrived back at camp at 7:05. It took us 2 hours and 20 minutes to get up to Cammerer and an hour and 35 minutes to get back down.

By the time we got back, Hoss had setup camp and Benton and Bryan had arrived. Benton was sent to go pick up a tarp, which would turn out to be a good thing to have. It would continue raining off and on for the rest of the trip. We had dinner and then Benton wanted to hike up to the cemetery that is off the Snake Den trail. So we did that and then did our devo when we got back to camp.

In the morning, we had been told that we need to show up at the Rafting place at 9:30. The instructions Hoss had was for us to get our Tickets at their Gatlinburg office. I thought it made more sense to go to their river outpost. When we got within cellphone range, Hoss called and they said it would be alright for us to go to the outpost. We show up, but we were about an hour earlier. They don’t do their first run until 11:00, so we didn’t need to be there until 10:20. We were kind of hurried breaking down camp and getting ready to leave, so the extra 50 minutes would have been nice to have known that we had. The rafting trip was mostly fun. We got held up for about 45 minutes when one of the boats (filled with people that probably didn’t speak good English) had gotten stuck on some rocks in a class 3 rapid. There were also a couple of times when we had gotten stuck. We were in shallow water though when we got stuck. Afterwards, I ate at The Bean Tree right there by the outpost. It was really good. When the CSC goes whitewater rafting in about a month, if anybody is hungry afterwards, I’d recommend eating there.