Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dendrology, elevating student's knowledge of trees to new heights....

The Dendrology class learned tree species on an extended hike this week:

Charlies Bunion
Trail Features: Panoramic Views
Trail Location: Newfound Gap
Roundtrip Miles: 8.1 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1640 feet
Avg. Elev Gain / Mile: 405 feet
Highest Elevation: 6122 feet
Trail Difficulty Rating: 11.38 (strenuous)
Parking Lot Latitude: 35.61084
Parking Lot Longitude: -83.42509

Trail Description:

The trail to Charlies Bunion, via the Appalachian Trail, begins from the Newfound Gap parking lot. The steady climb over the course of the first two miles of the trail quickly leaves the crowds behind.

Just before reaching the Sweat Heifer Creek Trail junction at 1.7 miles, take in the outstanding views of Mount LeConte and Myrtle Point to the north.

During several portions of this section of the trail, you'll be traveling just below or just above 6000 feet in elevation. Being at the highest point along the narrow ridge, with outstanding views on either side of the trail, you'll feel like you're walking along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains.

At roughly 4 miles from the trailhead, a short trail forks off to the left, taking you to Charlies Bunion.

Charlies Bunion is actually a rock out-cropping, and was originally called Fodderstack.

The current name was derived when Charlie Conner went hiking one day with Horace Kephart, an early proponent of a national park in the Smokies, and author of Our Southern Highlanders. When they paused for a rest on the rocks, Conner took his boots and socks off, exposing a bunion that looked like the surrounding rocks. Looking at Conner's feet, Kephart remarked, "Charlie, I'm going to get this place put on a government map for you." And so he did.

Charlies Bunion offers stunning views of the mountains to the north of you, Mt. Kephart and the Jump Off to your west, and Mount Guyot towards the east. Because of the steep drop-offs, you'll want to watch you’re footing here. (Post by Jenny Carver)

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