Saturday, November 24, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

Marjorie and Niles joined us for Thanksgiving this year. We took them for a hike on the Rock Creek segment of the Cumberland trail on Friday. We did the family dinner at Lora's Dad and Mom's house and were joined by her sister and Paul. It was a wonderful time of eating and socializing.

Saturday we headed over to Fall Creek Falls. We hiked from the nature center over to Fall Creek Falls. We were going to the bottom, but the park had other plans as they were working on the lower trail. From there we drove over to Piney Creek Falls and did the scenic drive as well. Then we drove over to the Medley Farm and checked out Medley Arch and the falls next to it. There were a few heated games of Sequence played as well.


Monday, November 19, 2018

Sheltowee, Honey Creek, Gentlemen's Swimming Hole

Sheltowee 8.1
Honey Creek 3.4
Gentlemen's Swimming Hole 2.1

Heading out for an overnighter, we headed to the Big South Fork. We had not hiked the newest section of the Sheltowee trail which runs from Honey Creek to the O&W bridge. So we did! 5.2 miles.

The Sheltowee follows the West side of the Honey Creek Loop which is the easiest side with only one time that you have to crawl through the rocks. From there you go over the ridge and back down into the river valley. You get to see numerous rock houses and water falls. The horses, which I know that it is the ignorant riders that can't read the signs, have torn up the trail. Especially going down to the O&W bridge. The bridge has been improved since the last time we saw it.

From the bridge we headed back and set up camp on the ridge where the spring begins just before the Honey Creek Loop. We got to listen to the coyotes and owls for the night.

The next morning we did the other half of the 5.7 mile Honey Creek loop which is a challenge with a backpack. You have to climb, crawl, skirt, find, rock hop and go through on this section. It's all beautiful!

We drove up to the overlook after finishing the trail and ate lunch. With more time left in the day, we headed over to historic Rugby and hiked the 2.1 mile Gentlemen's Swimming Hole loop. This trail goes down to the Clear Fork where they have picnics and swimming. Then it goes along the river down to White Oak Creek where the creek and river meet. Then you climb back up the gorge and hike an old roadbed back to the trailhead. We did a little exploring on the roadbed. We found flagging in the woods that we thought would lead to an overlook. Stopped looking when the trail started dropping toward the creek.


Sunday, November 4, 2018

Little River Trail

Ladies weekend in the Smokies. Jean, Sara and I met up in Crossville at our standard meeting place: Cracker Barrel. Went thru Townsend to get lunch and then to Elkmont to get to our trailhead. The Little River trail is a road bed that has nice bridges until Little River spreads out into channels and we started rock hopping. It becomes trail now instead of road, which we like better. We passed campsite #24 which is huge and then started some tricky creek crossings. Reading the trail descriptions and counting the creek crossings, when we got to a really hard crossing, I thought we needed to cross this one and one more, so we decided to scout up the smaller creek bed to see if the campsite was on this side of the creek. We ducked under trees and climbed over trees and rock hopped and then I climbed thru some rhododendron and still didn't find camp. We backtracked and decided we would go back to campsite #24. I said "Lord if campsite 30 is right here at this hard creek crossing, please show me the bear hangers" The sun glinted off the cables so we cheered ? and  chose to try the logs to cross over. Inching our feet across the lowest log and bending over holding onto the higher one, then stepping onto the rock the logs were balanced on, then whew! We made it! Set up camp, collected firewood.
We all had the same fire starter. Marco had given Craig a little block of fire starter to try, and Jean had used it before and really liked it. It burns for 5-7 minutes giving you time to let your little wood catch fire. The guys that camped close to us had a small fire going trying to dry their boots and socks from slipping off the logs in the creek crossing. They had tried to balance walking across without holding on. After Sara explained to them that we used our water shoes, they decided we were smarter than them, since that was the grown up thing to do. We had a great night around the fire.
6.2 miles

Morning time with an extra hour from the time change. We were up at daybreak, with Jean getting a fire started. We got back across the creek without a problem and backtracked to campsite 24, hung our packs and started up Rough Creek Trail. We met 2 guys that had hiked down Sugarland Mountain and Rough Creek, giving us warnings about overgrown trail with trees down. We ain't scared! Up we go, crossing the creek a couple of times and climbing. We did have to climb thru and over trees. Picked up lots of limbs trying to clear the path, then the upper part got worse. From the fire two years ago this upper ridge had burned and lots of trees died and fell. Weeds and briars are overtaking the trail because lots of sunshine and no canopy. We got a little scratched up but didn't give up. We made it to the top and saw the beautiful view of Chimney Tops and Mount LeConte.
We rested for a few, then backtracked to Little River Trail and our packs so we could eat lunch. On the way we encountered a snake, Sara yelled, I screamed and Jean screamed, and the snake got the heck out of there. And no, I don't feel bad for the snake's ears....

We hiked out on Cucumber Gap Trail giving Jean another new trail to mark off. As we walked out the Jakes Creek trail to the parking lot we got to see the improvements to the houses the Park has made. They are only preserving some of the houses. The others are torn down but the chimneys remain.
12.7 miles by the Brown Book. 12.5 by the map?

We stopped for supper in Maryville, then parted ways until the next time. Thanks ladies for a great weekend!


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

TTA 2018 Annual Meeting

This year's TTA annual meeting was held in Land Between the Lakes and hosted by the Clarksville Chapter. We were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Tennessee Trails Association. 

Lora drove there Friday afternoon, set up a hammock in the trees by the cemetery. Had a great dinner served by the lunchroom ladies, then listened to some music by the Friendship Band that had some of us dancing in our seats, but no one would get out on the dance floor. Ski Witzofski an early day Ranger in Brandon Springs, an accomplished speaker told stories and history of the LBL. The t shirt contest had contestants wearing old t shirts from TTA past events, some trail work days, and J.R. had stated the judges could be bribed.
My night in the hammock by the cemetery. Listen to owls, sleep, listen to scuffling in the leaves going to the lake, (haints or deer?) The Friendship Band sang a song about Ain't no Haint gonna run me off. But I heard no chains rattling, so I think it was deer. Sleep, listen to owls. Get up.

Lora's Saturday hike was at the North Welcome Center, an 8.8 mile segment of the Canal Loop Trail, led by Paul Schwab. He kept a good pace that warmed us up as we did the ups and downs with views of Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. We were blessed by the appearance of a bald eagle soaring low over Kentucky Lake. Ooohs and Ahhhhs as he climbed higher and soared. After the hike we drove the Loop Road to see bison and elk. And a coyote. 700 acres of scenic prairie. $5 per car.

Craig's Saturday hike was taking the trails around Brandon Springs. The blue trail runs around the lake which I wasn't sure about so after halfway I turned around and took the white trail back.

The evening was filled with awards for George Bonneau and Bob Lyons with the Bill Stutz Award, and TVA for the TTA Award, and Mack Prichard for the Bob Brown Award. Jim Poteet gave a great presentation of the 50 year History of TTA.

Sunday we enjoyed a good breakfast at the dinner hall, packed up camp, and then Lora and I headed up to the Golden Pond visitor center. We did a five mile day hike on the North/South trail from Dead Beaver Camp back to the visitor center.


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Anthony Creek Trail GSHAG

Sunday hike with the Great Smokies Hiking and Adventure Group for Suzan to finish her map. She needed the segment of the AT between Spence Field and Russell Field. 15 hikers gathered for this one. It was 35 degrees in Cades Cove when I got there. I was early, got up at 4:15 and 29 degrees, glad I remembered my gloves and toboggan. The gates were still closed for the loop road and cars were starting to line up. They usually open the gates at daylight. It was a few minutes after 8 when the guys came with the keys. As all the other hikes arrived there was a colorful array of puffy jackets and hats, scarves and gloves. We started up the trail, climbing of course, up to the Bote Mtn Trail. Closed for rehab, but the group had gotten permission from the Park to hike, so we ducked under the tape and kept climbing. They've been cutting limbs off the rhododendron and limbs were everywhere for a couple hundred feet. There are deep trenches in the trail still, but tools were still there to keep working. Hope.

The cold temps froze the timber on the ridge side, frost all over the undergrowth.  Beautiful and the sunshine was making everything sparkle. When we got to the ridge top the breathing was easier. As we neared Russell Field shelter, Suzan waited for everyone to catch up. We lined up to make a raised hiking pole ceremonial finish line. Suzan arrived and touched up her lipstick, then finished with a winning smile.

Lunch in the sunshine, then down the Russell Field Trail to Cades Cove. Beth and Laura presented Suzan with a 900 miler cake and we headed to Townsend for the Finish party at the Barn.
Suzan's family was there from Houston, and lots more of the Group. Good food and drinks, and camaraderie.


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Father/Son Trip 2018

Our annual outing went as planed which is a rarity. We had good health, no closings, and good weather. We met up at the Ponderosa again, got some chores done, and last minute packing. Tuesday we headed out one way and the ladies out the other way.

We drove to Bryson City and got to the Deep Creek Trailhead. We had a 6.3 hike into campsite #59.  There were some people out hiking today and we found one friendly copperhead snake on the side of the trail. We saw lots of fishermen out in the creek. Just before we got to camp a light rain started. That rain gave us a break to set up camp and then came back for the night. We visited under the tarp until bedtime.

The next day after breakfast, we headed out for a day hike. We did a mile up to Martins Gap trail and then headed down Sunkota Ridge trail. It was a beautiful day for hiking and a beautiful trail. We took the loop trail back to Deep Creek and back to our campsite. It took a while, but we finally found enough dryish wood to make a campfire for the night. We heard some coyotes tonight and I got to hear an owl both nights.

Thursday we headed out. We got into some hikers and photographers as we neared the parking area. We stopped in Bryson for some lunch and then headed home. Another great hike.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Raccoon Mountain TTA

Lora and I headed to Raccoon Mountain to hike with the Tennessee Trails Association. We did the 12 mile loop around the lake. We met at the visitor center and hiked counterclockwise. It was a great day of hiking and fellowship.