Sunday, December 17, 2017

Savage Gulf

Savage Gulf State Park (TN)
Collins West Trailhead
12/8 - 12/10/17
2017 bag nights: 31
Miles hiked: ~25

I met JC at the Collins West trailhead about noon. The temperature was just about 30 degrees. The weather forecast was cloudy/windy with overnight lows in the upper teens. We both were hopeful that camping down in the valley would shelter us from at least some of the wind.

We decided to hike in on the Collins Gulf Trail and then come back on the Collins Rim Trail, so right off the bat we were descending into the canyon.
There was a little bit of ice on the trail near Sutter Falls, but it wasn't enough to be a problem.

Sutter Falls

The trail switchbacks down and then parallels the Collins River and soon comes to a side trail to Horsepound Falls

And then not much later comes to Fall Creek and the sink. I liked this little waterfall pouring out of the rockface.

Looking upstream from Fall Creek Sink. All of this water disappears underground about 30 feet behind me.

And then on to Sawmill Campground and our home for the next two nights. The reservation website showed two other sites as being reserved for the first night, but no one ever appeared. We never had a ranger come check on us either.

The water source for Sawmill is .3 miles back on the trail. Schwoon Spring is easily the coolest place I have ever filtered water from, the water comes out of a cave in a large rock face, drops about 10-15 feet into a large hole and disappears underground, hard to explain, but very cool to see.

An attempt to capture the bigger picture with a pano, 5 photos stitched vertically, doesn't come close to capturing the full effect of the place.

A wide angle view with JC for perspective

The first night we gathered a bunch of firewood and were very comfortable, no wind at all.

For the second day, we hiked towards Stone Door with the idea of doing a loop at the end or just an out and back. The Connector Trail is very hard going in places, lots of rocks and tree roots, so we ended up hiking to Ranger Creek Falls and then turning around.

On the way out, we stopped and checked out the Cator Savage cabin.

Really weird ice crystals, there were hundreds of these along the ground. We both thought that they were caterpillars or moths until we looked more closely, never seen anything like it before.

The Cator Savage cabin in the middle of Savage Gulf

One of the suspension bridges along the connector trail, it was kind of weird walking along a bridge 20 feet above dry ground. Why/when is a bridge like this necessary?

A nice stretch of the connector trail

We had lunch at Ranger Creek Falls, but did not linger too long since it was windy and damp and cold. The tree in the bottom left is covered in ice which gives an idea of how much mist was in the air.

We got back to camp, had a couple Advil to counteract the Connector Trail and relaxed for a bit until dinner/campfire time. Another night without anyone else around.

The next day packed up and headed up the Stagecoach Road Trail to the Collins Rim Trail.
More water on the hike out of the gulf along the Stagecoach Road

Nice view from the Collins Rim Trail, great day for hiking

Got back to the trailhead around 1 and went to find food, neither of us had had time to do any research ahead of time and Yelp did not have too many suggestions. We ended up at something Dairy Bar were we both had an ok cheeseburger and fries, need to do more research for the next time.

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