Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hike 2011.065 -- North-South Trail, Land Between the Lakes NRA, TN (Part 5)

Hiked Sunday, September 18. Today's hike started at Point L on the North-South Trail map. Because of the current trail closure, the trail from K to L is inaccessible. If you wanted to hike the entire distance, from Point K, you'd have to head east .9 miles along LBL Road #205 to the Trace, then walk south on the trace for 2 miles, then head west on LBL Road #210 for 1.5 miles. That you put you at Point L.

At Point L, I parked my car on the shoulder of the road and headed south. Within minutes, I came upon the Iron Mountain shelter, which was much less impressive than I thought it would be. Guess it would keep you dry, but it also looks pretty buggy.

The distance from L to M is listed at 3.24 miles on the map, but as 3.3 miles on the green sign at the "M" junction. That sign also says it's 20.7 miles back to the Golden Pond trailhead. Since I skipped the closed section of trail but also walked 5 miles north of Golden Pond, that means I'd traveled about 22 miles of the North-South Trail. I would travel about 3 more miles further south from there.

I'm not exactly sure how far I went, however. That's just an estimate, based on it taking about 75 minutes to walk back from my turn-around point back to the 3.3 mile point. Even with a few stops for pictures, I likely covered 2.5 to 3.0 miles in those 75 minutes, so I figured 5.8 - 6.3 miles each way, total. My best guess, then, is about 12.3 miles, round trip. [Edit--9/22/11--Based upon the short remaining hike I had when I went (on my next hike) from the South Entrance Station to the pile of rocks I left here, I actually traveled about 4 miles south of Point M, meaning about 15 miles walking for the day].

The reason for the need to walk beyond Point M on the map is that the final segment, from Point M to Point N (the south terminus of the North-South Trail) is 7.6 miles. That would be doable as a round trip day hike, but it would be on the long side. To make my final segment more manageable, I decided I would walk somewhat past Point M heading south today. Then, on my final south-end hike, I'll start from Point N and continue to today's turn-around point.

I kept hoping to find a sign or nice view point where I could easily remember as my turn around point. However, nothing of the kind appeared after about 1.5 hours (mostly hiking, but with some extended stops for picture taking). By then, I was getting somewhat tired, and somewhat nervous about when rain might start falling.

I ended up settling for a place where a resin or plastic trail marker was set in the ground. I piled some rocks around the base of the sign, and noted a small "cedar" (juniper) growing across the trail from the marker. I also noted that there were three while "blaze" marks on a tree on the other side of the meadow. This should be distinct enough to confirm, assuming I get back here within a week or so.

Lots of meadows and flowers, though mostly plants I've seen before. My big prize for today was capturing a few decent pictures of monarch butterflies. Several kept floating around me, but their color only fully shows if they show the top side of their wings to you, preferably with some backlighting. I took about 25 pictures, and got a few that look okay.

I also inadvertently captured a shot of what looks like a praying mantis. I was so focused on the flowers, I didn't even notice him until I looked at the pictures after I got home. Of course, that means if I were a bug, I'd be dead!

1 comment:

  1. Nice shots and cool discovery on the praying mantis! When I was a kid, my cats used to fight those things and the mantis usually won.