Saturday, January 10, 2015

Rube Rock to Groundhog Creek

It rained all last weekend. I really wanted not to get out in the woods but come Saturday afternoon I wanted to go to the Hub and Duma wanted to do something so we went into the Ranger District for a fun little wet run.

case camp


It was wet, and cold, and as such Duma only wanted to stay for one beer before heading home...

Come Sunday and I couldn't get free to play until afternoon! Luckily by then the storm had passed and Jon was free as well so we went out to Harmon Den for an easy ten mile run.


Since ten miles isn't enough we parked down at the bottom of 148A and ran the road up so we could get in a half marathon. Our route took us up a gravel road climb to the Appalachian Trail and then down Rube Rock Trail #314to Interstate 40 and then up Groundhog Creek trail #315 back to the AT.


Even though it looks all nice and easy, this run ended up being quite challenging.The gravel road to start was steep as was the Appalachian Trail to Rube Rock. The trail was clearly marked and it was all downhill from there.


I didn't know what to expect from these two trails. They are close to the interstate so there was a chance it was a popular loop. But with Max Patch just up the road and the Great Smokies just on the lother side of the interstate it turns out these are lightly traveled trails.

Rube Rock in particular was very overgrown and when we weren't squeezing our way through downed trees we were playing the fun game of trying to find the trail.


The trail followed a very lush and deep cove and as I suffered my way down it I imagined fleeing from the jungles of distant lands. This reverie was shattered when we hit the bottom and the trail wound around the mountain just a few hundred yards from Interstate 40. Things got a little better from there and improved steadily as we headed up Groundhog Creek.


Groundhog Creek appeared to be an old rail grade that follows the creek all the way up the mountain and though still overgrown was nothing like the mess that was Rube Rock. But it also had plenty of creek crossings and lots of rocks and still made for slow and difficult running.


When the Groundhog Creek shelter appeared I was relieved and thought the heavily used AT would mean that we would be back down at the truck in minutes. I was wrong, of course, and we were still many miles away with a series of climbs before the final pounding gravel descent. It was a beautiful day and the sun was starting to set and although I started the run in just shorts by the time we finished I was wearing long sleeves, a jacket, gloves and hat.

On the drive home Jon and I agreed that Rube Rock was the most difficult trail to navigate since we did Bad Fork last winter. Although this was a challenging run and not one I am likely to repeat soon I am still glad we made it out to explore these two trails.

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