Fleet Foot Trail and Bear Gap Road

Today we decided to direct our efforts towards the switchbacks from Laurel Run into Bear Meadows. We started by exploring a bit at the horseshoe on Laurel Run Rd, just below Little Flat fire tower. Upon reexamination, the scrap of possible roadbed we spotted here before sure seems to trend onto Laurel Run Rd. It seems highly likely that the large horseshoe shown by Kline corresponds with the horseshoe in the present road.

We split up, with me headed up Fleet Foot Trail, and Vince headed up the hill near Bear Gap Rd, both starting from Laurel Run Rd. Despite a fresh blue blaze on the signpost at the bottom, I found no blazes on Fleet Foot Trail, and quickly lost it in a burned over area. It was nice having Vince’s new FRS radios to keep in touch, and they generally had no problem covering this distance.

The burned over area was covered knee deep in huckleberry, which made me a bit antsy. Sure enough, after a short distance I nearly stepped on a rather fat rattlesnake lying prostrate in the shrubberies. I decided to continue very cautiously, using a large stick to disturb the area ahead, and sticking to elevated tree trunks whenever possible. I love wildlife. From a distance!

Vince radioed that he had reached the Mid State Trail atop the hill, and after a while I reached it as well. We conferred via radio and decided to meet at the junction of the MST with North Meadows trail, and then explore the saddle in the mountain in that area (which seemed a likely path into Bear Meadows).

The saddle area turned out to be home to the “Indian Wells” mentioned by Thwaites. I had always wondered if these might be areas where rocks were stolen for roadbed building, but examination seemed to rule out the possibility. We saw no good sign of any roadbed crossing the mountain, so maybe we were still in the wrong area.

Vince decided to head directly downhill from the junction, while I chose to go down North Meadows  trail (?) to North Bear Meadows Rd. The descent is rapid, and neither of us saw anything of note. Reaching NBM Rd (gated) at the bottom, we noticed a short stretch on the meadows side which seemed suspicious, but again no clear sign of roadbed. It seems likely the NBM is at least partly former roadbed, so further examination seems warranted.

After picking up the car, we went over to Linden Hall to see if any of my satellite studies seemed to make sense. As on previous visits, clear evidence of the mill’s location seems absent. We gotta find the book on Linden Hall’s history!

After picking up Vince’s truck, we went SW on Laurel Run Rd so I could see his previously-found scrap in Hubler Gap. We stopped several places along LRR which seemed like possible switchback-to-Bear-Meadows areas, with nothing found. In Hubler Gap it turns out they were building nice rock roadbed, even this far out on the system.

We then decided to see if Kline’s map showing track continuing SW along Laurel Run Rd (from the junction with Pine Swamp Rd) was correct. I sent Vince off beyond the stream, which elicited loud shouts. Changing back into boots, I followed and saw what had him so excited. He’d found some really nicely preserved wood-stringers. It appears that at this extreme end of track, they had resorted to a quicker construction method. Ironic that even their garbage track is still visible nearly a century later! We’ll come back and fully document this spur later.