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155 Recipe for a Great Weekend 2009-11-25

Mill House, Cumberland Mountain State Park

Have you ever had one of those weekends that was just about perfect. Our trip to Cumberland Mountain was one. Loosely planned by Mo and everyone else, all the arrangements were vague. Now, most un-planned trips are one of two kinds: the trips where everyone relies on someone else to bring it, and the trips where everyone brings everything. Luckily we were on one of the trips where supplies were doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled. We had enough food!

Friday night, we met in Crossville, TN at a Mexican Restaurant for dinner. This small diner offered good food at equally good prices.

Leaving the restaurant we went to the Park. The Lodge we were staying in was built in the 1930s by the CCC boys and was now used as a group bunkhouse. A stone and wood structure, the Mill House sits below the beautiful stone dam on Byrd creek. Water continually cascades down through the arched spillways and a large stone deck on the back of the Mill House overlooks it all on the downside. The dam was the largest masonry project ever constructed by the CCC. It is impressive.

Warming by the large fireplace in the Lodge, we spent hours sharing stories. We were going to begin hiking the next morning at the leisurely time of 8:30.

After some morning bustling, we were ready to walk; even Ray, who is perpetually late, was ready to go. It was amazing.

Five of us, accompanied by three dogs began the hike of the Overnight Trail; 9 miles as indicated on the map. Mo led the way as we tripped up some uneven steps - built by the CCC, crossed the dam, and started the hike. Mo, a ranger at the Park, was the constant scapegoat for everything we found wrong. The steps were uneven. The bridge was dilapidated. Campers had littered. Trees were down.

The hike was easy. With fast walking we were done in about 3.5 hours. Of course we were carrying light packs and did not really take a break, other than to watch Mo pick up the trash at the campsite. Jon managed to keep me entertained as he increased his previous record for number of words spoken per mile. The only event occurred when I took a tumble off of a large log on which I was walking. I dove head first into the ground. Luckily, the duff was soft.

Back at the Lodge we ate lunch and were out walking again. For the afternoon hike we were going to do the 6 mile Pioneer Trail. Following the lake shore, the hike was even easier than the Overnight Trail.

Jon, Laura, and Jenny kept falling behind on the pace. Of course with the three of them together there is no lack of entertainment. It is hard to keep a good pace when you are laughing! About half way around, I got the Lodge key from Jon and told them we were not going to wait on them anymore. In the meantime, Laura took the lead and set a pace which was at least as fast as ours. We finished together.

Returning to the lodge, Paul and Nancy were waiting for us. They had been weeding invasive plants from the Burgess Falls Park. Unfortunately, Nancy tried to weed some poison ivy, which is not invasive. Itch, itch.

Nancy brought some great cheese for the appetizer and cookies for desert. Laura made the spaghetti for dinner. Mo brought snacks and was constantly making runs back to her house for things we forgot. Jenny brought the salad and Amy made desert. David, Ray, Jon, and Paul cooked their steaks out on the grill. It was a feast for the fortunate.

After dinner we settled in around the fire to hear the latest tales, while trying to watch the Tennessee vs Vanderbilt football game. Amanda, Mo’s sister, came over that night to meet everyone. She was wearing a North Face jacket, but when the game started the jacket came off to show her University of Tennessee shirt. We knew we had a fan on our hands. With all of the commotion in the room it was hard to follow the game, but Amanda always knew the score.

The big news of the evening was that Jenny and David were going to be parents!

Morning brought a pancake cookoff with Nancy and Aunt Jemima.

After breakfast everyone pitched in to clean the Lodge. Ray even swept the floors. Yes, he does know how.

So the recipe for a great weekend is as follows: start with some good friends, add a few adventures, find a great place to spend the night, and spice it up with good food and drink.

Happy friends and trails.


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