Coming in from Nashville, Saturday morning, we got a late start, finally hitting the Lead Cove Trailhead (led? leed?) at 1-2 local time. The plan was to 'slack pack' up to the Anthony Creek campsite, drop pack, and head up to Rocky Top and back. Considering the late start and crazy humidity, it only took a few miles before a more leisurely route was floated. Instead, we took it easy and headed straight to camp, saving Spence Field and Rocky Top for the next day.
Lead Cove was a pleasant surprise. I'd done a similar trip back in March, only coming up Anthony Creek from Cades Cove instead. Anthony Creek in March was not my favorite hike. The trail rises steeply from Laurel Creek Road through a cove thick with rhododendron and mountain laurel and fording several small creeks.
You'll also pass a homesite right on the trail...
Lead Cove Trail dead ends at Bote Mountain Road, which we took up to Anthony Creek Trail, and back down to CS#9. Bote Mountain Trail is featureless, a wide roadbed that follows the ridge up to the backbone of the Smokies.
CS#9 looks much nicer in August, all leafed-out. There are three sites, all along the creek. we took the upper site, hemmed in by a large boulder. We did the usual chores: set up camp, get wood, clean up after previous campers, start a fire, cook.
And right as we were finishing cooking the skies opened up, dousing our hard-earned fire. It could've been worse timing, but it would've been nice if the rain waited till we ate. So the three of us frantically piled in a two-man tent and ate our foil-cooked chicken and rice wraps (eating in the tent in bear country is not advisable, by the way). And just when the tent smelled enough like bear bait, the rain stopped.
Thankfully the rain held out all night, and for the remainder of the trip. What it brought, however, was heavy fog anywhere above 3000 feet.
I woke up the next morning before my campin buddies, so i took a short stroll up and down the creek to get some pics. The best cascade is right in the camp... (be careful... there's nettle all over the place).
True to form, the slack-packers took their sweet time that morning. We finally hit the trail by 11, headed up to Spence Field.
At the top of the ridge, where Anthony Creek Trail meets Bote Mountain Trail is where the fog set in.
Atop Spence we found fungus, a huge turkey, and still more fog...
A little bummed, we decided to nix the Rocky Top ascent and save it for another trip. even still, the fog does make for some wonderful photo ops...