Trust the Trail Podcast
Scott and Ariane December 22, 2016 0

Episode 15: Backpacking back in time

On this episode we are going to share two of our favorite places to backpack to for the Holiday’s. It’s our personal trail traditions that we embark on every year. Swan Cabin and Donley Cabin are both located in foothills of the Smoky Mountains.

Both of these cabins you can Backpack to…remote! Both have no electricity or running water and both have outhouses and steeped in History as they are about 100+ years old. Which is why we love it so much.

Joyce Kilmer – acquired some fame as a journalist, serving on the staff of the New York Times from 1913 to 1918, but most people remember him as the author of the poem “Trees” (“I think that I shall never see/A poem lovely as a tree”). He died in action in World War I. The 3,800 acres of North Carolina’s Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest–perhaps the single most impressive growth of eastern virgin forest in the United States, with many trees hundreds of years old.  Swan Cabin Is over 5,000 feet and was Built in 1931 by Frank Swan, this rental has absolutely no modern facilities. The cabin was the former home to district rangers for a number of years before entering service as a rustic lodge for travelers seeking solitude.

Donley Cabin – Jack Donley was trying to evade serving in the Confederate Army, so he constructed a small cabin deep in the mountains of southeast Tennessee. Like many Southern mountaineers during the 19th century, he squatted on property that suited him, built a dwelling and grew corn and other crops.

Sometime after the War, Donley moved to Montana where he met and married an Indian woman. He later moved back to the upper Tellico River area with his bride. Donley died in the 1940’s, asking in his final days to “be carried back across the river” to his old homestead. He is buried in the Coppinger Cemetery in Tellico Plains.

In 1916, 50,000 acres in the North Bald and Tellico River drainage’s were purchased by the Babcock Lumber Company and aggressively logged for several years. Seven years later, this entire acreage, including Donley’s log cabin, was purchased by the Forest Service. During most of the 20th century, a family was permitted to use the cabin as a summer residence and apiary for producing honey.

Have a special “back in time” place you backpack to? Share with us!