So, it rained 5 inches on Monday so we decided a better plan would be to leave Tuesday around noon. Got to the Cataloochee horse camp around 5pm and setup camp. It drizzled most of the night.
Wed. We slept in late. Around 10 am a Bull and 2 cows came though the horse camp. Sonny boy was okay with it but Miss Lacy didn't like it very much. With all the rain we figured the steep mountain trail would be slick and muddy so we rode about 10 miles down in the Cataloochee Valley and spent a few hours watching the Elk. The Elk just started the rut and forming herds, bugling, fighting, and well, other unmentionables.
Thursday, we rode 17 miles, north out of the horse camp up Pretty Hollow Gap trail to the crest of Mt. Sterling at 5600 feet and had lunch. This trail is very rocky, quite steep, and with all the rain just plain slick. While not high by west coast standards I don't know of many trails east of the Mississippi River that go this high. Quite a challenging ride and I don't think we ever asked this much effort from Sonny and Lacy. We then rode north east along the ridge on the Sterling Mountain trail still quite rocky and with all the rain, mud bogs.... and then south down the little Cataloochee trail. We had a couple of blow downs to maneuver around but the this trail was a bit easier all in all....not near as many rocks.
First picture, Miss Lacy's ears as she watches a Bull Elk Bugle.
Second Picture, the Elk in the horse Camp.
Third Picture, Trail head sign on Mt. Sterling.
Fourth Picture, Miss Lacy and Sonny Boy grazing at the intersection of Pretty Hollow Gap Trail and Mt. Sterling Trail, 5600 feet.
Fifth Picture, Sonny Boy and Lacy having a late lunch.
Hope to go back to the Great Smoky Mountains again soon.