Sat, Mar 18 2017 - Backpacking: Cumberland, Full-Island Tour (View Original Event Details)|
After a literally freezing week in metro Atlanta, it was a great relief to catch some rays on the Cumberland for three glorious days. After a warm afternoon on Saturday, the rest of the weekend was cool and crisp. Bugs were minimal except for some swarms the last night at Brickhill Bluff.
As promised animal sightings were numerous. We were greated by the sight of feral horses grazing on the beach as we approached the island. We encountered horses several times along the beaches and in the ruins. Armidillos were also a common sight on the trails, including one that clumisily climbed up a hollow log to drink water from it. Dolphins greated us at the dock and we saw them again on our last night as they fished in the bayy at sunset. Other animal sights included turkey, wild pigs, deer and a squirrel.
On Saturday we checked in at the ranger station and day hiked down to south end of the island. We went by the Icehouse Museuma and then to Dungeness, the ruins of a 19th century mansion built by the Canegie family and burned down. We followed a trail out through some dunes to the beach The dunes were surprising hard to walk through. The feet would slide back with each step. We then hiked up the beach and cut back across the island the ranger station We picked up our packs at the station and hiked up to our first campground at Hickory Hill. We spent a good bit of the hike speculating about whether there would actually be a hill, since most of the island was flat as a pancake. We were delighted to discover that there was a slight rise in elevation, maybe 20 feet or so.
The next morning we got up early and headed out to beach to catch the sunrise. We surprised some pigs and horses in the dark. The beach was awash in pastel pinks and blues in the predawn minutes. The sun rose casting a blaze of orange across the water and sand. A large group of seagulls posed helpfully on the beach, allowing us to take some epic photos. We returned to camp and then backpacked up to Plum Orchard, another Carnegie mansion, this one still standing. We were able to join a free tour of the interior given by the Park Service. Not many backpacks include a historic building tour!
After visiting the house, we proceeded up to our last campground at Brickhill Bluff, which has a beautiful location overlooking the bay. Unfortunately, the bugs were already present here in March, and we spent most of our time enjoying the campground from the safety of our tents. That afternoon we hiked up to see the historic church and terripin point on the north end of the island. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to include this hike in my total mileage tally in the write-up. We returned to camp, to a beautiful sunset over the bay. Dolphins fishing in the water added to scene. We were also visited by horses and an opossum in the night.
We rose early in the morning and hiked back down the length island. We spent two hours of well-earned rest rocking in the rocking chairs outisde the ranger station as we waited for the ferry. We ended up hiking a bit over 40 miles altogether, covering maybe 80% of the trails in the park.