Tuesday, March 19, 2019

TTA Big Frog Mt.

Joan planned a great TTA hike in the Big Frog Wilderness. 5 ladies for this one. Joan, Rebecca, and Celia from Highland Rim, Betsy and me from Soddy Daisy.  The trailhead is on FS 221. According to the Tim Homan book Hiking Trails of the Cohutta & Big Frog Wilderness, this is the only footrail that reaches the Big Frog summit from the North, easy to moderate climb from 2,160 feet to 4,220 feet. There are hardwood coves, steep slopes and ridges, streams and it's the highest mountain in the combined wilderness. The upper section shares treadway with the Benton MacKaye trail.  It was a beautiful day, cool start, blue skies and no wind. Perfect for hiking
We did some clearing along the way, Betsy remembered to carry clippers and took out some nasty greenbrier. The views were great all along the upper part of the trail, looking into the Tennessee Valley to the west and the Cohutta Wilderness to the South (according to the trail description). Joan decided to stop when the views stopped and the rest of us wanted to hike to the top, and the trail junction. The top flattens out into a great area for camping. This is where Craig and I camped on our night in 12 inches of snow in 2010. We got pictures at the trail junction and started back down to where Joan was NOT waiting. It took us a little while to catch up with her. We had the trail to ourselves until we started down. A father/son from Cleveland, then two young lads with a dog wanting to know how far to the top. They didn't make it and returned to their car as we got to ours. They were from Ohio exploring the area and said they thought the trail was great. I agree.
This trail is supposed to have a wonderful wildflower display (JUNE) so the only flowers we saw were yellow violets.


Saturday, March 16, 2019

TTA Collins Gulf Loop

15 hikers met at the Collins Gulf Trailhead as a TTA joint hike with Highland Rim led by Marietta, Nashville led by Doug, and Murfreesboro led by Wayne.

We shared the trail today with trail runners there for the Savage Gulf Marathon. Can’t imagine running on the trails here, rugged and rocky, it’s tough enough to hike it.

It was a sunny day but a cool 31 degrees to start off. The M’boro folks along with one from Nashville started first. That was the last we saw of them. We gave right of way to the marathon runners, between that and admiring all the wildflowers, it took us a while to get to Horsepound Falls which was really flowing today. We were able to rock hop the water crossings and didn’t have to change into our water shoes. Found a pile of critter hair, that looked bad for whatever critter got in a fight. We saw the Rangers handing out trail magic to the runners, but since we weren’t running…. we had to climb out of the gulf and find a warm sunny spot to eat lunch.  

The forest along the rim had a mess of storm damage. Can’t imagine how many Rangers with chain saws it took to clear the trail. The snickers & twix  got us out of the Gulf before dark so the headlamps didn’t get any use today.

Wildflowers: Sweet Betsy trillium, yellow and long spurred violets, Bloodroot, Hepatica, Trout lily, Star chickweed, Spring beauties, Anemone, Toothwort, Dutchman’s britches, and Harbinger of Spring, and Golden ragwort, thanks to Nancy and Marietta for finding and naming.


Sunday, March 10, 2019

Franklin State Forest/Sherwood Forest

Sara and I wanted to hike on a non rainy Sunday so she planned an exploratory hike and brought Wayne, Jan, Jay and Beth to Franklin State Forest. I met them at the trailhead for the CCC Lake and Tom Pack Falls. There was some muddy trail and some tricky creek crossings, but the sunshine more than made up for that. I never could find Tom Pack Falls, and the trail blazing system is confusing, so we explored. We had a map that helped a little (very little) We were on a loop trail that we couldn't find the rest of the loop, saw flagging that went nowhere? But did see 4 wheelers.
The views along the bluff were beautiful.

We did an out and back and then drove to the Sherwood Forest segment of South Cumberland State Park. Thanks to Marietta for directions to the trail. There is a big gravel parking lot and a nice kiosk. The trail is well marked, even the flagging on the unfinished trail was easy to follow. The State Forest folks should ask for some advise on maps and trail blazing from the State Park folks. :) The views from the overlooks on the trail are breathtaking. There's a natural bridge with a stream flowing under it, you can walk across or go around. We found a Ranger working on the trail. He was doing a great job but wasn't able to recruit any of us to help him.


Sunday, March 3, 2019

Greenbrier Ridge Trail

Day One: 8.6
Middle Prong trail 4.1
Greenbrier Ridge trail 4.2
AT 0.3
Day Two: 8.6
Total Miles: 17.2

Working on that trails list, we embarked on another adventure. We started on the Middle Prong trail with quite a few people out enjoying the beautiful day. After we got on the Greenbrier Ridge trail we had the woods to ourselves. We found an old shelter or storage building just before we got to the AT. Once on the AT we headed to the Derrick Knob shelter for the night. We had this all to ourselves as well. It was a challenge to keep a fire burning with all the damp wood, but we managed.

After a peaceful night we got up and while we were eating our breakfast it started to sprinkle. About a hundred yards down the trail, it stopped and we made it back to the car with only a few sprinkles here and there. On the way down we saw a young doe and we stopped by the falls.

Another beautiful hike and now only two more trails for Lora!!


Sunday, February 10, 2019

Oregon 2019

We got another opportunity to be spoiled by our grand babies. We headed out to Oregon to spend time with my daughter and her family. My sister and her family joined us too.

We got there Wednesday night and my sister joined us that night. The next morning we headed to Black Butte Ranch where we spent the next three days. After lunch we headed to Hoodoo Ski resort to do some skiing. It was an entertaining time as I had not skied in 35 years and Lora never.

The next day, after our morning hiking adventure, we went back to Hoodoo and did the Autobahn tubing. We had the whole park to ourselves for quite a while. That night we got out the cards and threw down.

The next day after we had gotten six inches of new snow, we headed to the sledding hill and had a great time. Heading back to Salem and had dinner with Jagons family.

Another great time with loving family!


Sunday, February 3, 2019

Joyce Kilmer - Slickrock Creek Backpack

42 Slickrock 0.6
45 Ike Branch 1.5
56 N. Hangover Lead 2.4
56 S. Hangover Lead 3.0
46 Deep Creek 4.0
53 Haoe Lead 5.1
42 Slickrock 5.3
44 Nichols Cove 1.6
49 Yellow Hammer 1.7
45 Ike Branch 1.5
42 Slickrock 0.6

Total Miles 27.3

Knowing that this area is known for it's hard trails, we left Thursday night to get an early start. On the way over while driving the Dragon we saw an owl, a woodpecker, and a hog. We parked just across the river by the trailhead. We hiked in and camped just before the Ike Branch trailhead off the Slickrock trail next to the river. We set up camp right at dark. A car came into the campsite across the river from us and stayed the night. We sat around the fire and enjoyed the stars.

Day Two
We got up, ate breakfast and broke down camp. The climb started at Ike Branch and what was left of the snow. North Hangover Lead is where it really began. The sign didn't lie. The trail was straight up.
It doesn't look like there is even a trail there, but there is! Straight up the side of the mountain. 1720 feet in a two mile segment with some just straight up.

We took our lunch break at Big Fat Gap where the North and South part of Hangover lead come together. From there it is only 2000 more feet up. Lora made her graceful fall on this part and bruised her shin. The highlight of this section as the snow got deeper and deeper, was the rock overlook where you could see forever in all directions.

When we got to the top, the snow was around five inches deep. We decided not to go to the hangover which we had both been to before. We continued to Deep Creek which turned out to be quite the challenge. Not only locating the trail, but all the downed branches and trees. Once we got down out of the snow you could see the trail better. We camped along side the trail where there was a campsite. We even had our own waterfall. The wood was damp so it was difficult to keep the fire going and we were tired from the long day of climbing and bushwhacking.

Day Three
At least we started the day downhill. We even found the bridge over Deep Creek which from our trail description said was no longer safe. It had obviously been replace since the book was written. When the uphill section started the windfall started too and we worked our way to the Haoe Lead trailhead.

There has been beautiful views all along these trails and now we were looking over Lake Santeetlah. The cool thing to see on the Haoe Lead was the rocks that shot up along the ridge. They reminded us of the Devils Racetrack. We stopped among these and ate lunch. As we got higher we got back into the deep snow and harder steep climbing. People had been out going from Naked Ground to the Hangover so we had slush to hike through instead of snow. Messy, messy, messy.

When we got to the Naked Ground we had to spend some time looking for the Slickrock trail. The sign was there, but with the snow no trail to be seen. We referred to the topo map and then did some hunting. Finally we bagged what we were hunting for. A slight indent of a trail followed by some saw marks on logs.

The first section of the Slickrock trail is a winding switchback through the rhododendron. Basically following a tunnel with lots of downfalls along the way. Every now and then you got a view. Finally we broke through to a clear area out of the snow and campsite so we camped for the night there.

Day Four
We woke up and got breakfast started. It tried sprinkling on us a couple of times and then when we got on the trail it started to rain. We were back in the rhododendron tunnel again and it rained for some time before we finally got to walk along the creek. Then it cleared up for the day. We enjoyed the trail down to the junction.

At the Nicholas Cove trail junction, there was no snow, but there was windfall everywhere. We searched and searched and finally found the trail which started with....you guessed it! A very steep climb. 400 feet in 0.4 miles. This turns into a beautiful trail along with the Yellow Hammer. Lot's of ups and downs. We got to see the grave site at the trail junction of these two trails.

By the time we got back to the car, we were ready to be done. It was a beautiful hike. Just hard and hard on us.


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Flipper Bend TTA

Soddy Daisy TTA chapter hike for this beautiful chilly Saturday was at Flipper Bend, high above the North Chickamauga Creek. 8 miles of trail with white blazes on the trees with trails and roads going in all directions, and no signs. John did a great job leading, but we still had to backtrack a couple of times after not seeing a double blaze for a turn. We had a creek crossing early in the hike should have been a rock hop. A couple of hikers got wet feet so Louise found a better place to cross so another lady and I followed her with just a little balancing act on a log. But no wet feet. It was plenty muddy on the road beds with water running down them. Everyone liked the view from the bluff by the power lines, we could hear the waterfall but couldn't see it. We could see pretty far today, the air was crisp so the mountains in the distance were visible.

Met some nice people today, and it was great to hike with Louise again.