Bell Mountain to JSI - 2/16/14

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Bell Mountain to JSI - 2/16/14

Postby DirtRoadRunner » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:01 pm

I hiked from Bell Mountain (A Highway trailhead) to Johnson' Shut-Ins today. I dropped my car at the scour trailhead at JSI, and my wife gave me a ride to Bell Mountain. I planned to hike all 19 miles in one day as I've been attempting to train for the OGRE ride in April (http://bonkhardracing.com/ogre/), but icy roads have been foiling my attempts to ride. Hiking makes a great substitute for cycling, and is probably a better workout anyway, so I opted for a monster hike today rather than risking it on our local backroads, which still have lots of ice patches.

As with the JSI to TS portion of the OT, this section of trail is gorgeous. Both Bell and Goggins Mountains had lots of huge glades with equally huge views of forest and hills, seemingly stretching 20-30 miles out. I can't believe I waited this long to take the hike. The trail was in excellent shape, other than coming off Goggins Mountain, where it was pretty brushy in some areas of Inland Hurricane blow-down. However, quite a bit of the trail was covered in thick ice, especially on the mountaintop glades which have likely thawed and re-frozen numerous times. I was able to get around most of it, but trekking poles were literally a lifesaver.

The trail was deserted, as expected. I saw quite a few tracks heading up Bell Mountain, but no other tracks after maybe 1 miles south of the OT and Bell Mountain trail junction.

Although I had planned to hike the OT all the way to the scour trailhead along N Highway, when I made it to the East Fork of the Black River, it was obvious that I could not cross without a barefoot wade (I didn't think to bring my Crocs for some reason). As it was 30-ish degrees out, I decided to bail and hike out through the main portion of JSI state park, leaving me with ~18 miles of hiking instead of 19. My wife and I will come back and hike the ~4 mile section between the Black River and the Scour Triailhead this spring (when it is warm enough to wade through the river). That will make for a nice loop hike through the shut-ins, when combined with the blue-blazed park trails.

Overall, it was another great day on the trail. The sun even peeked out for a little bit, but it was rather overcast so photography was difficult.

South Bell Mountain from North Goggins Mountain
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Much of the trail looked like this
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One of the many huge glades along Goggins Mountain. Although not readily visible in the pic, Mudlick and Des Arc mountains could be seen to the S and SE (which are all the way down near Piedmont, probably 20 miles away]
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OT crossing of the East Fork of the Black River, where I chickened out. There was no way to cross it without a frigid barefoot wade, so I took the easy way out and hiked out through the park, ultimately crossing the river on the N Highway bridge.
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DirtRoadRunner
 
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Re: Bell Mountain to JSI - 2/16/14

Postby mike » Mon Feb 17, 2014 9:41 am

DRR,

That is one great section of trail! Thanks for sharing.

Mike
mike
 
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