Monday, May 30, 2011
Savage Gulf: Stone Door (Trekking Review)
Today we (Funkdubie and I) did a minor trek to Laurel Falls and Stone door. Laura Falls is so close to the ranger station that it's near impossible to not take the tiny .4 jaunt to see the falls. While they may be impressive during or after a rain, I was more impressed by the apparent sinkhole/mini-gorge that formed the falls than the falls themselves. Laurel Falls is a mildly challenging hike at worst, primarily because of the uphill slope on the way back to the ranger's station. However, the very short duration of the hike easily make's up for the small uphill.
history to the region). The "Door" itself is a 10-foot wide crack in the sandstone rim that surrounds the entire valley and is, pretty much, the only easy way to get to the bottom. Tennessee State tells us that the 'door' was used by Native Americans as a means to get to hunting grounds. Walking through the seemingly tight expanse of rocks, one can feel the cool breeze and imagine the sounds of eons past. There are (wild guess) 75 stone steps that lead to the bottom of the door. The stones felt well placed and poles were not needed. At the bottom of the door, one can traverse down slightly further and then branch out to where the climbers would go. This section was rugged but very short (I believe there are steps created to go to this area, but a fallen tree made that a non-option). From the bottom of the bluff, one can feel a new appreciation for the 'do not throw/kick stones' sign above. The cool air blowing from the pitted areas of the bluff were a welcome feeling mid-day (the day we chose to go - May 30th - was unseasonably warm and hovering around 93-degrees).
As always, what goes downhill eventually has to go back uphill. We made the trek back up the steps and took another brief glimpse of the expanse of forests. It's worthy to note that while the area has never been logged, the trees don't grow to the grandeur that one may find in, say, Joyce Kilmer park in NC.
Overall the entire trek, including the unplanned trek around the base of the Stone Door Bluff, took no more than 2 hours (and, had we not stopped to bask in the sunlight on the bluff, likely 1-1.5 hours total). I would rate the Stone Door trail - including the steps to the base - to be 90% easy and 10% moderate. If you can't handle steps, then skip the aforementioned 10% and just enjoy the beauty of the bluff from atop.
My point of going to Savage Gulf today was actually to peruse the terrain casually as my next planned hike is the 25 mile (round trip), rugged Fiery Gizzard. I can't wait to review THAT one!
...Bring On the Fiery Gizzard! (wow... for some reason that makes me hungry)