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Lower Ekaneetlee - 8/5/06
Eagle Creek , Great Smoky Mountains Natl. Park

As with our last outing on Fontana Lake, we pushed ourselves just a little bit further on this voyage. We started off at Fontana Marina and paddled 4 miles to the Lost Cove campsite (#90), as we had done a few weeks prior, but then from campsite #90 we hiked a total of around 2.5 miles up to campsite #89. The official name of site #89 is "Lower Ekaneetlee", due to the fact that the site sits right at the point where Ekaneetlee Creek feeds into Eagle Creek. We left the marina in our canoe at 11:45am and had smooth ride all the way over to the the start of the trail to campsite #90, which took almost exactly 1 hour. Once we had stowed (and secured) the canoe and paddling gear between some trees we went for quick swim in the lake to cool off. The water was perfect. After drying off, we packed up all our camping gear onto our backs and the hike was on! Unlike the horrendous Lakeshore Trail that we had hiked a few months back, the Eagle Creek Trail was refreshingly flat and relatively easy to hike. As its name suggests, Eagle Creek Trail follows Eagle Creek deep into the Smoky Mountains. The trail curves back and forth and cross Eagle Creek itself several times. The first crossing we made over Eagle Creek was on a really cool foot bridge, but the remaining 3 crossing had to be done the old fashioned way (walking through the water). Eagle Creek is a pretty big creek, and some of the crossings were a little deep and the current a little strong for a 5 year old. Nevertheless, Josiah toughed it out and made it across every time! About 1.5 hours after the hike started we finally arrived at the Lower Ekaneetlee campsite. It was worth the extra effort. The site was pretty and serene. On one side was Eagle Creek and on another side was Ekaneetlee Creek flowing into Eagle Creek. Needless to say there was no shortage of fresh water to drink and cook with. By the time we got to the site, clouds had rolled overhead and some serious thunder and lightning was going on above us. In effort to beat the rain, we quickly set up our tent w/rainfly and our kitchen tarp. Fortunately, the storm passed right over us and we never got rained on. We had only brought 1 liter of water each to drink, so as soon as the shelter priority had been met, I went down and replenished our supply with some crisp, cold water from Ekaneetlee Creek. Ater running the creek water though our MSR sweetwater filter and then treating it with a few drops of MSR Sodium Hypochlorite solution , we had 4 liters of drinkable water ready for use. The water tasted great. While Dani went about cooking lunch, I set up our new hammock to give Josiah something to do. After lunch, we played frisbee for a while, explored a bit, relaxed some and gathered some firewood to put under the tarp. Just before nightfall, the fire got started and dinner was on the stove. While adjusting the rocks around the fire pit, we uncoverd a small snake, which turned out to be a non-poinsonous Eastern Worm Snake. We let the snake escape under some other rocks and he never gave us any trouble. We relaxed and talked after dinner until about 9:30 and then, being very worn out from a very full day, we hit the hay. In the morning we packed up our stuff and started a trouble-free journey home. We all agreed that this was our best trip yet. We tried out a lot of new gear on this trip such as a new (and lighter) tent, new sleeping pads and new sleeping bags. All of the new gear worked great and the new sleeping pads gave us the most comfortable night's sleep we had yet experienced in the wild. Since we now know that Eagle Creek trail is a relatively flat and pleasant hike (at least for several miles), on a future trip we may go up another mile or two and hit campsite #96, which is Eagle Creek Island. Enjoy the pics!

Click on the small images below to view the larger versions

Closeup of the map showing the section of Fontana Lake that we paddled and the trail up to campsite #89, which is the Lowe Ekaneetlee campsite. You can also see campsite #90 (Lost Cove), where we stayed on our last trip. We had to hike through campsite #90 to get to #89.
The two lovebirds.

On the trail between campsite #90 and Eagle Creek Trail.

A few shots of us on the bridge over Eagle Creek as well as a shot of Eagle Creek from the bridge.
The official start of Eagle Creek Trail.
Josiah hiking down Eagle Creek Trail.

The thrill of accomplishment upon making it to our destination. Josiah looks just about tuckered out.
Ekaneetlee Creek, about 15 yards from the campsite. We replenished our drinking water supply here.

A couple shots of the campsite after we got everything set up. Our new and lightweight Sierra Designs Sirius 3 tent made its debut on this trip. It's one of the lightest 3 person tents around, but it's still quite comfortable.
Josiah tries out the new hammock.
Josiah happily laps up his spaghetti and meatsauce. The Mountain House brand freeze dried spaghetti has become our favorite.
Dani and Josiah do the dishes after lunch.
Firewood, anyone?

A couple neat shots of a little moth. The first shot was supposed to show him sitting on my watch, but he took off just as the shutter snapped. However, it's still a neat picture because you can see him just taking flight. The second pic is the same little guy on my hand towel. He was quite friendly. If I'm not mistaken, moths and butterflies are both the same species. Just a little factoid for ya.
Josiah gets his bearings with his little compass.
Josiah and Dani fast asleep in our new Sierra Designs tent.
Geared up and ready for the hike back home, we look down Eagle Creek Trail.
And to think, we were scared about having a bear encounter. We met a bear on the hike back. Noticing that none of our pictures had all 3 of us in a shot, he agreed to snap this shot of the three of us.
Dani and Josiah make their way across one of the many Eagle Creek crossings on our way back to the lake. Even in the middle of Summer, that water is damn cold!

All that remains of the old foot bridge over Eagle Creek for the now "unmaintained trail" that used to be the lakeshore trail. Next to the bridge, a trail sign points the way home.
On our way back, we stopped for a brief rest at campsite #90 (Lost Cove).

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