We took off to The South Cumberland Recreation Area headed for the Savage Gulf to do a little backpacking early Sunday morning. Liam (11), Savannah (13), and I, the others were unable to make the trip, threw our packs in the car and left before the sun.
We arrived in Beersheba, TN around 2pm and headed down Stone Door. Stone Door was used for centuries by the Indians as a passage way from the top of the South Cumberland Plateau down into the gulfs, narrow gorges, below. This “door” is 10 feet wide and 100 feet deep. Following the Stone Door Tail we turned northeast on the Connector Tail and headed to Sawmill Camp. Along the trail we saw our first bit of up close fauna, a green snake. Of course we captured him to have a closer moment of observation.
We were hard pressed to cover the six miles to Sawmill Camp before the sun went down. Once camp was set up we took off to Schwoon Spring to get water. It was a mile round trip but it was a neat adventure. The spring comes from a cave in the rock face. Because of the dry season we had to duck walk about thirty yards into the cave to reach a spot that had enough water to fill our bottles. We were in the tent early and listened to Liam tell stories. After four tall tales we made him quit for the night. He agreed with me and Savannah that the last three stories were not as good as the first one because he used up all of his good ideas in the first story.
After a breakfast of bacon tortillas we got back on the trail. We back tracked on the Connector Trail for four miles to make the junction of the Big Creek Gulf Trail. This trail led us on an uphill climb of 600 feet over the next nearly four miles to the rim of Big Creek Gulf and Alum Gap Camp. Again the search for water was on. Our worst option was a mile and a half hike to Greeter Falls and it may or may not have had water. We chose a closer water source. This was a nearly dried up seep the size of a large hat in a rocky streambed. We filled our containers and headed back to camp. As we were preparing to treat the water Savannah noticed that there were “things” moving in the water. These “things” were mosquito larvae. This observation led to a conversation about “sea monkeys”. We changed the name of our criters to “puddle monkeys” to make them seem more user friendly and proceeded to strain them out and treat our water.
Chicken fettuccini rounded off a very good day that consisted of sore feet, puddle monkeys, and everything in between. We ended the day, while the sun went down, by telling round stories and laughing at the tid-bits that we each added to the tales.
After a big breakfast (whatever we had left in the pack) we followed the Big Creek Ridge Trail for our final few miles. It led us back to the top of Stone Door with several grand overlooks from the rim along the way. Our ride home consisted of thoughts of the trail and wishes that it had lasted longer.