Thursday, June 26, 2014

Big Green Mountain

The Great Wall of Big Green Mountain

My first trip to Panthertown Valley was just a random exploration.  I had no specific destination because I didn't know how to get anywhere!  (If you haven't read that story and are interested it's at:

But on that first trip I met Carlton McNeill, and he started the process of orienting me.  He took my topo map and sketched in a few trails.  He showed me the route over Big Green Mountain, so for my next visit that was my goal.

I came into the Valley by the western entrance, stopping of course at Salt Rock to admire one of the best views in all of Panthertown.  I headed on down the hill, watching the right side of the road for the shortcut trail Carlton told me about.  After a couple of false starts I found it & followed it down to the Deep Gap Trail.  A left turn onto the Granny Burrrell Falls Trail soon led to the crossing of Panthertown Creek and the Great Wall Trail.
(I'm getting these trail names from the current "official" Panthertown Valley map, at that time none of the trails
were named or marked.  Here's a link to the PDF map:

I took off my boots, waded across the creek and headed out the Great Wall Trail. Stopped to look around the big campsite with the A-frame shelter, and a little farther down found the little spur trail that goes to the base of The Wall.  I don't think I ever passed by without taking the time to walk that short trail.  I loved the way it wound through the ferns, and of course the base of the Great Wall is amazing!

 Fern Trail

 The Great Wall

After some rambling around the boulder strewn base of the cliff I went back to the main trail and went on my way.  Next I came to the big ravine where the trail turns left & starts up the mountain.  Right at that point I stepped in a patch of mud.  Not big or deep, just a little spot of sticky black mud.  When I lifted my foot there was a loud "slurping" sound and the sole of my right hiking boot peeled almost completely off!  Turns out it was only sewed in place around the toe, and the rest was just glued on.  The soaking those boots got on my previous trip had evidently softened the glue, and now 3/4 of the sole was flapping in the breeze.  Surprise!

My first thought was that not only did this bring to a halt what had so far been a really enjoyable hike, it was going to be interesting getting back out the way I had come.  I may cussed a little (bad habit!).  I sat down to asses the situation, and rummaged around in my day-pack.  Luckily I had a piece of nylon cord that was just what I needed.  I was able to wind and twist and tie it around my boot til the sole felt fairly secure.  I tried walking around a little bit.  "Not bad!  I think I can make it back out with this!"  Walked around a little more, and the inevitable next thought: "Not bad at all!  And I really hate to turn back now..."  Am I really that dumb?  You should know the answer to that by now!

So I started up the mountain, telling myself what a foolish idea that was!  The trail is steep but beautiful.  It goes up a huge ravine in the mountainside, which I took the liberty of naming The Big Green Ravine.  A great place, and my boot was still together!  I finally came up to the Big Green Trail, and followed it up the ridge to the top of Big Green Mt.  I found the top of the cliffs and settled myself down for lunch and contemplation.  I still had a long path to get back out, but I wasn't worried.  It was such a beautiful spot, and I was just thankful to have reached my goal.

 View from Big Green Mt.

 Cliff-top on Big Green

After a relaxing stay it was time to make my way down.  I re-tied the cord holding my boot together and started out.  I followed the Big Green Trail to its intersection with the Mac's Gap Trail, & took a left on it.  As I was going down from Mac's Gap I ran into Carlton beside the trail picking blackberries.  Of course I had to stop & talk!  He said it was a slow summer for berries, he'd only picked 45 gallons so far.  (Every time I saw him during blackberry or blueberry season he'd tell me how many gallons he'd picked.  I don't know what he did with them all, I think he gave them away!)  
He was shaking his head at my tied-together boot, but when I told him where all I'd been he seemed to think I wasn't totally hopeless as a hiker.  We talked some more about scheduling a hike together, which sounded fine to me!

I made my way from there through Pine Valley and back up to Salt Rock without further incident.  Altogether an enjoyable and satisfying hike!  I did have to retire those boots, but I made sure the next pair were sewed all the way around the sole. 

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