With the news that campsite 35 was open for the first time in who knows how long, two of us decided to make a backpack trip out of the loop up to Mt. Cammerer fire tower this weekend. The weather was perfect and the views were spectacular!
We started our hike going up the steeper route, starting in the Cosby Campground and hiking up Low Gap Trail to the AT. Low Gap Trail was a great challenge first thing in the morning, affording a few views of Snake Den Ridge. About a mile from the top, there was a little snow on the ground. We reached the trail junction with the AT in about an hour, which was awesome considering the elevation gain of the trail. As we started up the AT, the ground was snowy and there was a little ice in places. At one point, we were in snow about 3 inches deep, which was funny considering the sweat we’d worked up!
We continued the gentle climb of the AT to the Mt. Cammerer trail. This trail was a little more treacherous as the ice on the rocks was a slippery, but we made it out to the tower at 11:45, about 2:45 after we left the parking lot. It was a little hazy, but other than that we had blue skies and phenomenal views. From here, it was downhill all the way to campsite 35. We talked to a thru-hiker for a bit, T-mellow from Baltimore, who had a crew catching up with him. We met a total of about 30 people on the AT Saturday. We reached the trail junction with Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail at about 1:45 and we had 4.1 miles to go to camp.
Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail was gentle and uneventful, other than a few interesting things we’d spotted. About 2 miles down the trail, we noticed a clear-cut path off the side of the hill. We looked at it for a few minutes and it hit us we’d found a cemetery. When we went over to see it, there were only 6-8 graves, all very small. Only one stone was readable, a child who died in 1912. About 3/4 of a mile further down the trail was a freshly marked manway, which it turned out was Hog Ridge, a shot up the side of the mountain from Cosby to Mt. Cammerer in a steep ascent.
We got to camp about 3:30 and had campsite 35 all to ourselves. Since the site has been closed as long as anyone can remember, the firewood was abundant and the site was fabulous. Good water and good fire make for a great night.
Sunday morning we got up about 7 a.m. and took our time packing up. We left camp about 8:50 this morning and made the gentle walk out to the truck, about 3.4 miles. Other than one easy, long hill from Picnic Branch’s cascade to Sutton Overlook, the trail was gentle and mostly flat, wide, and easy walking. Even with talking for a few minutes to some people in the parking lot, we were in the car and on the road by 10:15 a.m., making it a short and easy morning leaving me Jonesin’ for some more hiking. It was a phenomenal hike with wonderful company and I can’t wait for my next backpack.