Blount County High Point Trip Report

Thunderhead Mtn

Date: August 16, 2003
Author: Ken Oeser

We met at the Anthony Creek trailhead for a hike to the top. I picked the date based on a blueberry patch we had previously found along the AT above Spence field last time, hoping they would be ripe and awaiting our return. We started at 7:45 AM due to threat of scattered storms, and I was still remembering the severe thunderstorm around Maryville and Townsend we drove around the night before.

On this overly-humid day, we hiked up the Anthony Creek trail to the Bote Mountain Trail, and found it less steep and rocky than we remembered, but there are signs of trail maintenance. The Russell Field shelter and campsite 10 were closed because of bears, the site along the Anthony Creek trail had signs warning that bear attacks have occurred here, and the camping area was closed. At the AT, we hiked toward Thunderhead and found our blueberry patch and, after a short stop, hiked up to the highpoint, noticing that some of the bumps in the ridge have grown in the last few years, requiring more elevation gain and loss along the way (at least to our memories).

Once on the summit we could relax a few minutes and snack, and I searched for the start of the Defeat Ridge manway (an alternate route to the Tremont area), but couldn't find it. It was overcast, with some blue sky and some building clouds. Views were somewhat obscured by clouds, as they were on our trip in 2000.

As we started back, we heard some distant thunder a couple of times but didn't feel threatened and stopped for several minutes of blueberry picking and eating before moving on. We were happy to leave the ridge in case of lightning, but only had occasional light rain on the Bote Mountain trail. We were caught in heavy rain for about 2 miles on the Anthony Creek trail. We Oesers had rain jackets which we used, while Mike just took it all in and got soaked, but as he stated he was soaked in sweat already, so it didn't make any real difference. We caught up with two women near the bottom who said they were told of a bear eating berries at Spence Field that showed no fear of people. Are they supposed to be afraid of us? This may have been one of those attacking bears, though, or maybe they only saw Mike and me rustling in the blueberry patch.

With the losses in elevation on the AT ridge, I recounted total elevation gain roundtrip and came up with approximately 4,010 feet; Ron Tagliapietra had earlier come up with 3,650 feet.

It took us 9 hours roundtrip.