Sat, Sep 23 2017 - Whiteside Mountain, Devils Courthouse and Scaly Mountain (View Original Event Details)|
Super fun day up Whiteside Mountain, to the Devil's Courthouse, and on the Bartram Trail near Highlands. The Whiteside Mountain trail was crowded on this fine early autumn day. We passed families with young children, kids of all ages, and dozens of climbers all geared up with ropes and helmets, preparing to rappel 700 feet down the sheer face of Whiteside. We left the crowds behind and had the trail to ourselves as we worked our way down and up the steep path to the Devil's Courthouse. Here we enjoyed spectacular views and tasty snacks before making our way back out of the thick underbrush and back down the gravel road to the parking lot. When we passed a group of women with t-shirts reading "Drinking Wine and Hiking Pines" I thought we were going to lose a couple of AOCers to their group. But we made it back down to the cars with our team intact.
We drove a few miles back through Highlands to the Osage overlook parking area and crossed the street to hop onto the Bartram trail. It was a colorful ascent as we appreciated the purple, yellow, and white wildflowers intermingled with the bright red fallen leaves. Another snack and admiring of the views from the summit of Scaly Mountain, then back down the other side of Scaly.
We entered a whole different world as we descended the back side. We saw no other hikers, and this section was obviously less traveled and not well maintained. Thick vegetation crept in from both sides of the trail, and many branches were strewn across our path. Spiderwebs were plentiful. The trail conditions got more and more wild as we descended further. Many trees were blown down, splintered, and/or uprooted. A couple times we almost lost the trail after having to go over, under, and around large fallen trees. We figured maybe the destruction was the work of Hurricane Irma or perhaps even a tornado.
Finally, we made it down to the beautiful Tesnatee Creek campground and turned to head back up Scaly. We only paused our climb to labor over, under, and around the leafy obstacles again. Reaching the summit of Scaly, we kept marching onward and made short work of the descent.