2021 July 4 Clingman-Jones Valley, Strawn Mt
Recently, a group of cousin hikers went on a thrilling journey to an old crash site on Strawn Mountain, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it! Many of our cousin’s had been years before, but, so long ago, they’d forgotten how to get there, and the hike would now be too much for them. Thanks to cousin, Mike White, I at least had a coordinance to go by. 34.40056°N, 93.580982°W
My search began in June 2021. I drove my Dad’s truck as far as it would go down the rugged road where my walk begins just past the old solar house with a wet swampy area. I pass two ravines to a rocky climb following winding deer trails through an intense and rugged terrain. There, I find the first signs of an aircraft. Part of a wing. But I’ve been gone too long and Dad’s going to worry. So, my journey will have to wait until my next visit on July 4, our Family Reunion.
In July, Karl Bowman, Heidi Lewis, and William Cameron join me for a second run. We find more small pieces! However, we are running out of time and need to get back to the Valley. It’s been a 2-hour hunt and the dinner bell will be ringing soon. As the second day comes around, Cousin’s Tammy Geatches-Clemmons and husband Brian, Robin Diffie and her friend Jeff, Matt and Blythe join in on the fun. The minute Matt had a glimpse of the plane’s part, he was immediately able to identify some of its history.
With renewed energy, the following day, new cousin hikers, Uncle Nelson Cameron, Gil Jones, Bill and myself continue past the first sighting and follow Gil’s GPS coordinates that summit Strawn Mt. Ascending the mountain, up a rocky gorge, we hear the sound of rushing wind through the mountain’s pine trees, as we began to see more evidence of the forgotten plane.
The trail of plane parts led us up a rocky passage covered in pine needles. There, hidden just under, were more parts. It felt like an easter egg hunt! Small parts and larger parts were everywhere. The summit was filled with large white boulders, and rocky cliffs with fantastic views of Mt Nelson. We followed the mountain’s summit towards the potential crash site where the plane’s mark on the mountain came into view.
The plane had left a large crater just at the summit. The majority of the plane had been repurposed and it’s victims returned to their families. Several unexpected, rusted relics, from a bygone era, still existed. Everything weathered and worn. Yet, there was something captivating about the abandoned aircraft parts, sitting alone on the mountain. The cousins explored the plane, marveling at the rusted metal and imagining the history behind it.
After spending some time at the site, we began our return journey, following the same trail back down the mountain. As I descended, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the unforgettable adventure we had just experienced.
If you’re looking for a thrilling hike and a chance to discover a hidden gem in the mountains, I highly recommend taking the three-hour journey to the hidden site. Just be prepared for a challenging hike and a rewarding experience you’ll never forget!
– Olivia “Summer” Cameron-Engel (Jones)
You must log in to post a comment.