Saturday, July 7, 2012

Doughton Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway - Basin Cove

Caudill Cabin  

           Basin Creek Cove  

                       Doughton Park

In 1916, fifty families lived in the Basin Cove community of Wilkes County.  If you have seen the movie  Sgt York....or  maybe Cold can get an idea of what it must have been like to live in such an isolated locale.   The Cove is a narrow slit of earth made wide by the flow of  mountain stream....that by the time it gets to Longbottom  Road, some 6 miles away, it  is swift enough to dam for a hydro-electric turbine.....steep mountain walls rise up from the creek bed...the cove is so narrow, there is hardly room for one cabin on each side of the creek

What happened to the Basin Cove Community is ever on your mind as you walk along a  path most likely very similar to the one used by the community over a century ago. By 1916, fifty families lived in Basin Cove.  But one July day in 1916, rain began and did not stop for 24 hours.  When it subsided, three people were dead and most of the homes were washed away.  Soon thereafter all the residents moved away leaving the remnants of their community to be reclaimed by the forest.  Only the Caudill Cabin survived.


Getting to the Trail Head is not easy if you have not been there before.  It is located on Longbottom Road, halfway between Traphill Road and NC 18.  Coming from Traphill Road you will miss Longbottom Road if you are looking for the road sign (we did!) as it is hidden by tree limbs....but it is the first road to the right after Traphill Elementary School. It is simpler to follow the signs to Stone Mountain Golf Course.

Once at the Grassy Gap Road Trail Head you will hike the longest 1.6 miles of your life to the Basin Creek Trail head.  The hike is easy along a fire road following the Creek upstream.  There is a large primitive camp site at the Basin Creek Trail head as  several of Doughton Park's trails intersect here.

Flatland math says that 3.3 +1.6 = 4.9....but the Fat Bald White Guy is in the Mountains and we have learned that mountain math is very different from flatland GPS says that we walked over 7.25 miles from the Longbottom Road trail head to the Cabin..... making it a 15 miles round trip instead of a 10 miler as we expected....go figure!

The Basin Creek Trail begins wide and level as it follows on a small ridge line above the creek along a forested route.  From here you would never expect to get your feet wet but the trail crosses the Creek at least 16 times and wet feet is something you learn to deal with.

The trail becomes narrow as it snakes up the Cove.   It generally follows the creek and is nicely marked with blue dots which helps immensely as you choose your route across the creek and then have to pick up the trail on the other side.

The Blue Dots did not help us navigate around these downed trees...we could not tell where the trail was until I waded up the creek and saw the trail on the other side of these trees.

During one of our rest breaks I found myself sitting on a rock beneath two of the most unusual trees I have ever seen......I called them  Crooked Twins

Summer Whites are every where you look.  They adorn the mountain forest.  I love the way the buds are so pink they are almost purple.....The Glory of the Lord is all around us if we just look!

A mossy log spans the creek over mossy rocks at one of the creek know something.... moss covered rocks tend to be a bit slippery when wet!

The further you travel up the creek, the steeper the mountain walls that surround the cove tend to be.   I think in most places the Cove is not 50 yards wide.  I love the way the sun "spotlights" the top of this rock cliff.

This waterfall makes the Fat Bald White Guy all time best waterfalls....the upper falls flow into a basin, the size of a large bath tub....rain kept me from lounging in that tub on the way out....what a great pic that would have been!

While the trail should be labeled "moderate", its length combined with the temperature and humidity today made the trek very strenuous for the Fat Bald White Guy......Barry Baker warned me on Facebook this morning....."Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate" ....and I thought I had ....drank a couple of Gatorades on the way up and carried in Gatorade and water....but by the end of the trek up to the cabin, I was experiencing some signs of dehydration which was greatly limiting my ability to hike out of the woods.....

As I sat on a rock looking up this creek and was seriously concerned that two remaining bottles of water were not sufficient to relieve my dehydration....two Forest Nymphs came to my rescue.  We all knew that God protects drunks and fools....but who knew He looked after Fat Bald White Guys too!  You see as I sat there I observed for the first time all day a butterfly....first there was a Yellow one...then a Purple one...( must be ECU Fans?!)...As they performed an aerial dance over the creek in front of me...they let loose some serious Pixie Dust....and soon it began to rain.  A cool rain that soon turned into a downpour....and it felt like I was standing in a cold shower at body temp cramps disappeared....and my energy returned...Who said God was a Tar Heel....GO PIRATES!.....ARRRGH!

The Fat Bald White Guy rates this trail - 7

Access is hard to find, long walk in - 6

Scenery is great esp w/ history of Cove - 8

Trail is well marked, clear, easy to walk but too many creek crossings - 7

Next Week back to Linville Gorge....Hawksbill ....

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