Finally got back to civilization and access to the internet. Currently in Berea, KY and will be here through Memorial Day. So here is a catch up on our travels since Pigeon Forge.
Cumberland Gap National Park
We arrived without incident on Tuesday the 15th of May. We plan to stay until Monday the 21st of May and then move on to Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park. The Wilderness Road is the historic route that Daniel Boone and some 250,000 to 300,000 others traveled on their trek through the Appalachians via the Cumberland Gap. The Gap was the only way through the Appalachian mountain range for several hundred miles to the north and to the south.
Met up with Ray and Linda Blush. You can see who came in last. My rig is in front and that’s Ray in the window upon arrival
The campground is really nice. Lots of trees, not many people and very quiet. We have electrical hook ups and full tanks of water since there is no water at the campsites.
We are just exhausted from just sitting around enjoying the peacefulness.
Ray’s is on the right ours is on the left.
As you can see we have plenty of trees and shade.
The weather has been in the upper 70’s and down into the 50’s at night. Wednesday morning we had a little rain and it was cool all day and some sprinkles. Tonight a cool front is coming through and it should go down into the lower 40’s. Visited the visitor’s center to learn more about Cumberland Gap and it’s importance to the westward expansion and of course it’s most colorful character, Daniel Boone, who crossed here a couple of times. He crossed once in 1769 and then again in 1775 with his family.
Thursday was supposed to be another day of rest. We were expecting rain, wind and possibly hail. Actually it turned out to be a beautiful day. Temperatures were in upper 60’s. We decided to drive to the Tri-State Peak. We got as close as the parking lot driving then hiked 2 miles up and up and up to the Tri-State Peak, where the Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia borders intersect.
I couldn’t resist, I had to touch the actual boundary intersection.
After recovering from our hike down we then drove to the Pinnacle Overlook. Here we could look straight out to the Tri-State Peak and look down into the Gap and the Saddle of the Gap
Plans are to go to one of the first settlements, Hensley Settlement, on Saturday and go cave exploring on Friday into Gap Cave. These are all Ranger led activities.
I tried to get Ray to walk to Hensley Settlement. It is only an 11-mile hike from our campsites. He wanted to have the Ranger drive us. So I deferred to my elders.
Kathy and I decided to hike it for a short distance. You could smell the sweet smell of Honeysuckle.
Friday’s hike to Gap Cave was a shorter and easier hike then the hike to the Tri-State Peak, only ½ mile up and up to the cave entrance. We walked the same trail that Daniel Boone once traveled. Soldiers from the Civil War explored this cave. You felt like you were walking through history. There are no lights in the cave so each one of us was issued a flashlight by the Park Ranger. This is a Ranger conducted tour and the tour size is limited to 15 people. There were 14 in our group. We had made reservations for the tour on Wednesday. Once at the cave we entered through a narrow opening.
You had to crouch down and watch your head. This was typical of most of our 2-hour excursion into the cave. There were 183 steps to encounter along the 1.5-mile walk through the cave and several places where you had to duck and watch so you did not hit your head. The cave temperature stays 53 degrees year round.
The cave is host to bats at various places through out our tour. The total darkness of the cave suits their lifestyle. Their internal clock is what wakes them to exit the cave at night and eat insects.Bat is the dark spot in the center of the photo.
They were as curious as the humans, as can be seen below.
All in all it was a fun day. Had lunch at a Webb’s Country Kitchen, a Mom and Pop restaurant, in Cumberland Gap TN. Great lunch and reasonably priced. Returned to camp and Ray started a fire, which we enjoyed for several hours. The wind increased and the temperature dropped. This should be our coldest night. Temperatures in the low 40’s are expected.
Last night we heard rifle shots around 9 pm, didn’t think anything of it until this AM. We heard there was a bear in the campground last night and that the Ranger had scared him off with the rifle using rubber bullets. The group now wants to be sure and take their showers while it is still daylight!
Saturday’s trip to Hensley Settlement involved more hiking. We met at the Ranger Station and they drove us in a 4-wheel drive van to the Settlement. It was only 17 miles but took one-hour. Then we walked the Settlement for 1- ½ hours while the Ranger explained the workings of the Settlement and some history about the families that lived there. Families back then were large. One family had 19 children. It was a 5 mile trek down the mountain for the settlers to get to town for mail and other provisions that they did not grow on top of the mountain.
It was another gorgeous day, high around 70, no rain, clear skies. Tomorrow, Sunday, will be a day of rest. No activities are planned, except lounging around the camp and reading. Monday we move onto Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park. It’s about 55 miles up the road towards Berea, KY. We’ll stay there 3 nights.
But before we leave all of us give a hearty thanks to Chuck Wilcox at Lazydays for his suggestion to stay at Cumberland Gap National Park!