Driving around the Cades Cove loop on this Thursday afternoon was practically painless - not many cars and the drivers all understood the signage that says "pull over." A big wind was picking up, though, and I kept one eye on the sky as clouds moved over the mountains to the east. Since I have tried and failed to complete the Wet Bottom Trail two times, I decided to start from the end that I thought I could handle via Cooper Road Trail.
At the trailhead I quickly moved my gear from the weekend backpack to the daypack, noticing that my clothes were blowing sideways and I had a hard time shutting the car door. Hhhmmm...high winds and dead trees....guess I'll go hiking! Not very smart, I admit, but this Smokies 900 is a sickness. Remember, I was alone so no one knew whether I was really completing this trail or not...The wind was not so threatening once I got into the woods, so I kept going.
I found the spot where I went awry on the first attempt - the detour to the right to the Elijah Oliver Cabin. I kept straight and can now confirm that Wet Bottom is indeed wet. I followed the horse tracks and passed the fence that the Park service has erected to keep the wild hogs out of the Abrams Creek flood plain.
Ultimately I came to Abrams Creek itself and had to make a choice. I had hiked Wet Bottom Trail from the opposite end up to this point but did not cross the creek - I mistakenly turned right onto an animal trail and got myself lost. So I really didn't have to go any farther to consider this trail completed...except for crossing the creek itself. What would a Smokies 900 hiker do?
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the ones you did do – Mark Twain