Frozen Head State Park is located in the Cumberland Mountains in East Tennessee. It also has the highest mountain peak between the Smoky Mountains and the Rockies at 3324 feet. I guess I got close last time I was there in the fall, we got to Chimney top at 3120 feet. Nearby Frozen Head was a prison, which is still there but no longer in use. When prisoners escaped in the past, they'd be found wandering around the mountains not too far away but they thought they had already traveled a hundred miles. Poor dude.
Unlike last time I tried to go a guided hike, this time I successfully found the meeting spot and participated! For an average person, that's not anything to be proud of but for someone like me who gets lost a fair amount (read: all the time!), I was proud of myself.
As for the guided part of the hike, it went really well! Anyone who knows me knows that I'm always running a little late. Ha. I also went to the visitor's center, thinking the hike started there when it didn't (uh, yeah). Luckily, tour guides take these factors into account and waited a little bit for stragglers. After I got there, 5 minutes past the time it was supposed to start, I was still waiting with the group for others to show up. Since this was a wildflower guided hike, we were going at a super slow pace. (I'm saving the wildflowers for another post). On the hike was an elderly woman in her eighties, maybe? who used to lead these hikes herself. There was also an elderly gentleman who was very knowledgeable about flowers and foliage. Of course, there was the ranger who actually led the hike. There were a few others like me who didn't know much about native flowers. Some lone hikers, like me, and a young family. So it was a very informative hike, with many different people in the group. If you ever see your local park hosting a guided hike, I would encourage you to try it. :)
During the hike, I'd get glimpses of the water and was impressed by the blue tint from not that much water. Due to the record breaking high temperatures this spring, the leaves came early. Maybe it's not true, but during the spring, it seems like the leaves have a more vibrant shade of green, it's a really fresh and bright splash of color. I love forests. Only I get creeped out if I'm in the forest by myself so I had to do a guided hike to have companions.
Afterwards, I stopped between Oak Ridge and Frozen Head in the nearby town of Oliver Springs. I read that there was a BBQ place and it had been a while since I've had southern BBQ. Five different BBQ sauces. Most of them were vinegar based and more liquid than BBQ sauce you'd find in stores. I ordered pulled pork with hush puppies and potato salad. For $1, I got dessert of a Tennessee moon pie heated up with chocolate syrup, whip cream and a maraschino cherry.
It was pretty nice to be back home around 1pm after doing so much already! Yet, even though I know the benefits of getting an early start to my day, I still like sleeping in when I can. :P