◊ 6.8.2017 ◊ Chattanooga, Tennessee
A few things to know about the South: it is hot, it is humid, and there are a lot of thunderstorms in the summer.
On our first night in Chattanooga, Johanna woke up when her feet found a puddle of water at the end of the bed. It had been raining hard all night… and we had just found out that our roof vent was leaking. It was about 2 a.m, we were in a Walmart parking lot, and there was nowhere to hide from the rain. We took a drive around the neighborhood, tried to park under a car wash but it was too low for our camper, so we resorted to the Walmart gas station. The gas station shop was closed for the night but would open in the morning so we set our alarms, and Scott got up at 5 a.m to re-park, in the rain. He also climbed on the roof of the camper and set a tarp above the vent to prevent more water leakage. It all seemed like a weird dream in the morning, but random maintenance issues like this is part of living on the road.
A little tired from the eventful night, we spent our first day in Chattanooga looking for a replacement vent. The vent had been broken ever since it flew off in the very high winds on our first night of the trip, back in Bishop California. We had been lucky to find it on the ground near the truck, so Scott had taped it back on. Surprisingly, it held for quite a while until, almost three months. We ended up having to order the new vent lid online. Thankfully, the weather was supposed to get better for a few days.
With the return of the sun, we went on our first Chat’ adventure on top of Lookout Mountain, at Sunset Park. We parked among the million dollar homes atop the mountain and hiked a few minutes down to the crag. The view from the top of the cliffs was wonderful; not surprising all these beautiful homes were built there.
The band of cliffs at Sunset Park is very long (probably a mile long) and offers dozens of routes. We jumped on a few face climbs, a very interesting chimney/roof climb and a neat crack climb.
To end the day, we visited the nearby Point Park, an old civil war vantage point.
Here again, the panorama was wonderful, offering 180 degrees view onto the nearby mountains, and the Chattanooga valley and Tennessee river.
The next day, we drove to Enterprise South Nature Park. We went on a 8 mile mountain bike ride through the forest on very nice and flowy single-track trails. The park used to belong to a nearby factory making TNT, so there are 100 bunkers hidden in the forest that were once used to store the explosives. It made for a spooky ride!
On our way out of town to our next destination, we stopped at Deep Creek. As a side note, Chattanooga climbing is best in fall, winter, or spring. The most popular crag is probably “T-Wall” (or Tennessee Wall) but it faces South and is in the sun most of the day. We decided to skip this area as it would be way too hot to climb there in June.
Deep Creek, on the contrary, stays shaded all day. It is very secluded, and probably one of the lesser-known crags of the area. The hike in uses part of the Cumberland Gap Trail, and the sandstone cliffs line the base of the canyon following the cascading Deep Creek.
The only downside to this location was how buggy it was. We did find a few ‘pleasant bugs’, such as this really cool moth that was about the size of a small hand.
All-in-all we really liked the Chattanooga area, we just need to come back during the better seasons.