Hazel Creek and Proctor, GSMNP
Paddled across Fontana Lake up to Hazel Creek for a three-day weekend in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It takes about 1 1/2 hours to paddle the distance in an inflatable kayak; I'm sure a canoe or hard shell kayak would get there much faster. Hazel Creek campsite (#86) is, according to trail guides, a very popular spot for fishermen and non-backpackers wanting to camp. Shuttle boats from Fontana Marina will take you right up to the creek drainage and it's an easy five minute walk to camp.
Won't bore you with all the details about Proctor, the old lumber town (you can read more here). It's a very short hike from the campsite. If you're a history buff, you'll enjoy it. We spent a half hour at the graveyard. Lots of stories there, accounts of pioneers, Civil War veterans, children who lived only days or weeks or entire families who died. I found it very sobering, not sure I could recount the all the feelings. There's a very ancient and ghostly feel to the ruins at Proctor, and I found it fascinating. The holler where Calhoun House sits is incredibly picturesque.
This was my first bonafide hammock trip. I've hung in the backyard for an afternoon but never overnight. Pleased to report that I never got CB. My feet got a bit chilly on the first night, had a hard time keeping them on the pad. The humidity and temperature were up the second night so I almost roasted, constantly flopping the sleeping bag off then back on. Used my new WB Mamajamba and LeighLo 2/3 Summer UQ, both were great.
Oh, and see that guy line in the bottom left corner, near my head? I was awake around 1:00 AM on the second night, heard my buddy Paul padding around, headed to the bathroom. He managed to stumble on the line, kicking the crap out of it and startling me. I yelled at him to watch it, couldn't understand why he didn't have his headlamp on. Then it occurred to me that I never heard his tent unzip. I grabbed my headlamp and looked out from under the tarp just in time to see a very big, fat and furry rear-end disappearing into the bushes.
We had been visited by a large black bear. He strolled by about 4 feet from my head, close enough to step on the guy line!
Don't mind telling y'all I was spooked for the rest of the night. Being a popular campsite, Hazel Creek certainly invites a lot of sloppy campers; our neighbors didn't even bother to hang their trash. I've also heard it gets closed sometimes due to bear activity. The funny thing is that I'm the guy who started this thread about a month ago.
Anyway, I highly recommend the trip. You can rent canoes at the marina (call ahead to reserve one). The lake is gorgeous, the inlet was smooth as glass both days. If you're a paddler or a history buff, you'll enjoy Hazel Creek in GSMNP. (More pictures here.)