INFAMOUS IMPROMPTU OVERNIGHT
by Charlie Klabunde
Photo Credit: Kemp Davis
Saturday, July 31, 1965: "The Falls of Cannon Creek" with head leader, Ernie Dickerman, planned as a rock-hopping trip up Cannon Creek to the top of the falls (at about 4250') for lunch, traversing across the ridge over to Lowes Creek and rock-hopping down it. An 11 mile hike, including the connecting trails at the bottom.
Quoting from the For the Record report: "The wisdom of scheduling difficult trips on a Saturday was demonstrated on this occasion when darkness and weariness overtook the main party while they were still coming down Lowes Creek. Since further travel was dangerous and inadvisable. The party of 17 spent the night in the woods (fortunately it was a warm, dry night) and came out early next morning. Meanwhile, seven others who had shortened the trip by varying distances and returned to the cars probably got less sleep than the benighted ones!
What this report fails to mention is how the leader kept climbing farther up the intervening ridge instead of just sticking with the difficult enough task of crossing it. So, while the goodly crowd was OK after lunch above the falls, by the time they had struggled up, up and over to the other creek it was late afternoon and many were already tired and moving slowly. Rock-hopping down a steep creek is much more difficult when you are tired. The faster movers could have easily gotten out by daylight, but waiting for the slower ones meant that the group was still well up Lowes Creek when dusk arrived, putting a stop to further rockhopping.
The undaunted leader then tried another tack to lead the exhausted group through the much darker woods, with just a few flashlights, back over to Cannon Creek. Rebellion soon put a stop to that just a few hundred feet into the woods, as there were far too few flashlights, much too difficult footing to stumble about in the dark, and just plain tiredness of so many.
So the group bedded down for the night as best they could. A fire was started and maintained by those who felt that it helped. Some grouped together closely to share body warmth and cover, while others managed singly, using whatever they had, including empty packs for cover. It was just chilly enough that real sleep was impossible for most.
With the arrival of dawn's early light the faster movers began to exit and found that the mouth of the creek was less than a half hour away and a fair path led back over to the point where they had entered Cannon Creek the day before. Eventually car pools reassembled and retreated to Gatlinburg for food, and phone calls to families.
This version is by survivor Charlie Klabunde who had just joined the Club in March of that year and did this hike in tennis shoes. Other survivors still on the member rolls include Jean Bangham, Ruth Young, Mildred Bradley Sears, and Dick Ketelle.