Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cumberland Gap


this is the 3rd installment of day hikes we took on our family mini-vacation. this one took us to one of the highlights of the weekend, a trip to Cumberland Gap Nat'l Park. the good wife wanted to walk through, right through, that damn gap, so i devised a plan to go there and then to Tri-State Peak. CG has something like 70 miles of trails. many of these are backcountry, which requires total trips of 7 miles or greater. there is no way the boys were ready yet for such an adventure. this route left from TN instead of KY.

let's first give a little historical exposition. CG became the first significant entry of easterners along the seaboard into the 'wild country'. mountains block travel from NY all along the Alleghanies and the Appalachians into northern GA. this gap was used by Native Americans and by herds of elk and deer for many a year. some dudes in the mid-1700s first "discovered" this gap, and the every-famous-in-KY Daniel Boone cut the first road in 1775, opening the westward expansion of the original colonies. KY became the 15th state, after the original 13 and Vermot, to become a state. the Gap used to have road 25E going right over the top. in 1996 somebody built tunnels under the Gap, and since then the Park Service has been making efforts to return to the Gap to its more original state and location.

we began in TN at Iron Furnace, an old furnace (imagine that). the trail follows what is now called the "Wilderness Road", which was the first road. who the hell knows how close, but think of the fact that this mother was built right before 1800. that's only 200 years. hell, a house we stayed in in France in 1993 was built in the 1400s. recent history our mother country. the "Wilderness Road" has been turned into a somewhat wide gravel road. it's really not that comfortable to walk on. being in the sun, it was also hot as hell that day, with the white limestone gravel radiating extra heat to boot. the climb to the Gap was pretty easy. the pics show an open "meadow" where the road cut once was. after a brief look we continued on the Tri-State Peak, a peak where KY, TN and VA meet at, in fact, a point. you can stand in all three at once under a cute little pavilion. Z and good wife were lagging a little today, but L and i made the quicker hike to the top. it's nothing to special, but fun still to be in a interesting spot. lush too. after everybody made the "summit", we headed on down after a hot, muggy day of hiking, 2.5 miles in distance.

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