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069 Savage Gulf 2009-04-13

stream crossing the trail in the Savage Gulf

Amy, Jake, and I went to Savage Gulf in South Cumberland State Park (TN) for a mini backpacking trip over the weekend. We were looking forward to trying out our new tent, some boot/shoes, and lighter packs than we had carried on the John Muir Trail in the Big South Fork. We were especially concerned with the three of us sleeping in the new Tarptent. Sleep is going to be very important to us during our Colorado 14ers trip this summer, so we were hoping to adapt workable sleep solutions.

On our drive to Stone Door Ranger Station trailhead we passed the twisted trees and demolished houses that lay is the path of the tornado which went through the area Friday. Not to be gawkers, the destruction was evident from I-24 and was humbling. Large trees lay on the Interstate easement snapped like match sticks. Beyond the Interstate retaining fences lay the lives and dreams of many home owners chaotically disassembled by the storms fury. Torrential rains accompanied the deadly winds.

From Stone Door we walked through the morning mist to Sawmill Campsites. Every body of water along the trail was BIG. The rivers were raging torrents. The creeks were swollen out of their banks. The streams were whitewater rapids. Drainages were cascading water falls. In fact the trails were filled and flowing with the storm’s runoff. Basically put, there was water everywhere. We weren’t looking for an ark but rubber waders might have come in handy.

At the old Sawmill we set up camp and lightened our packs of the tent, sleeping bag, and mats. After a cup of coffee we continued hiking to Hobbs Cabin, about three and a half miles away. The water flowed freely and fording creeks, streams, and the trail(!) became the norm. The views were outstanding and soon we were at the Hobbs Cabin bunkhouse. The restored cabin had been converted into a bunkhouse for hikers. It is definitely a worthy destination. We inspected the cabin and surroundings and then returned to our campsite.

After a dinner of soup, pasta primavera, and a freeze dried ice cream sandwich, we turned in to test the tent. The single wall Tarptent is essentially a tarp with screen and a floor. We expected condensation, especially with the dog sleeping in the tent with us. As the temperatures reached dew point the moisture began condensing on the inside of the fabric. It was about the same as using the Megalite. Sharing bedding space or food with a dog is tough - they always want more. Amy started with Jake at her feet, then as he scooted up the mat as she surrendered more space to him. By morning the dog was at the head of the mat and my poor sleepless wife had been pushed to the foot. I guess we have some more work to do on the sleeping arrangements.

Overall the trip was excellent. The water compromised some of our plans but not our spirits. We highly recommend the Hobbs Cabin area and the Connector Trail (it does have elevation gain) to get there.

Happy trails.


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