Monday, October 13, 2014
The Rock House
The Rock House - GSMNP
October 6, 2014
There is so much hidden treasure in these mountains I call home. I had the opportunity to discover one of those last week during a hike with my good friends Gene and Judi!
In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there are 900 miles of “official” trails. Many of those trails are along old roadbeds which once led to homesteads, businesses and entire communities which ceased to exist once the land was designated for national park use. Remnants from this earlier life are easily found along the trails, but to find some really special ones, you have to dig deeply and discover the hundreds of miles of paths, roadbeds, animal trails, etc. that are no longer “official,” meaning no longer maintained. These special places are not found on current maps, so to go there, one needs to become acquainted with someone who knows how to get there. That might be a Park Ranger, it might be a Hiking Club leader, it might be a descendant of someone who once lived here or it might just be someone who knows one of the above!
I’ve heard about The Rock House since shortly after I began considering myself a serious hiker, but had no idea how to get to it and didn’t know anyone who did. I’d heard rumors and a couple of years ago a friend and I tried to find it, but didn’t succeed. I now know what we did wrong! Several months ago, Gene and Judi heard of a local hiking club that were going to The Rock House on one of their excursions, so they signed up to go. And we’d been trying to find a time to get me there ever since! I am happy to say that has finally happened. It isn’t an incredibly long hike (six miles round trip) or a difficult hike, but it is on mostly unmaintained trail and at certain times of year, has a creek crossing that can turn you around just short of your goal!
Seeing The Rock House was everything I’d imagined it would be. I’ve seen lots of old chimneys, foundations, cabins, relics, rusted out automobiles, etc., but never anything quite like this. It was much larger than I had assumed and just incredible to come upon this structure out in the backcountry.
Kitchen Implements on Mantle - The Rock House, GSMNP
October 6, 2014
Oddly enough, no one is 100% sure exactly what The Rock House actually was. There is much speculation and if you have any interest, this link explains much better than I could. Truthfully, I’m not certain it matters all that much to me exactly what it was. What mattered to me was how well preserved the structure was and how obvious it was that people had made their home there. Not to mention the fact that I’d finally seen something I’d anticipated for years and it more than lived up to expectations.
Inside The Rock House - GSMNP
October 6, 2014
Unfortunately, we stayed at The Rock House a little too long and failed to notice the storm clouds building in the sky or the distant rumble of thunder. We got thoroughly drenched on our return trip, but thankfully, are well-prepared hikers and had everything we needed to stay safe. It was worth it!!
Next goal is to visit the two sites in the National Park where there have been plane crashes and see the pieces that remain many years later! Again, you’ll not find these locations on any map. Someone who knows what they are doing has to take you there. Doesn’t that sound like an adventure?
What was your most recent discovery that you had to depend on someone else to help you find?