Saturday, February 18, 2017

Twentymile Loop

I met Judi and Gene at the Motorcycle Pit Stop on 129 and then traveled with them on the Dragon Tail to the Twentymile Ranger Station. We only saw a couple of zippy cars as we started on the Dragon, no motorcycles today. No photographers either. Off season I guess. There were a few cars already in the parking lot when we arrived at the trailhead. We started up the trail and followed the Twentymile trail on the old railroad grade past the cascade. We smelled the campfire smoke before we got to campsite 93, several guys still around the campfire. We stopped for snack at the junction of Long Hungry Ridge and the Loop trail at the Proctor Field Gap. Then it was new trail for me! It's a pretty 2.9 mile trail with a small waterfall just before the junction of Wolf Ridge. We stopped for lunch at the junction and Gene made us some hot tea; he had carried his stove, fuel, cups and an assortment of tea and coffee. My cold hands were very happy to hold a  cup of hot tea. Gene demonstrated his fuel cannister and windscreen and pot. This stove can burn wood too.

We had all carried our water shoes for the crossings on Wolf Ridge but didn't have to wade any creeks because some really nice folks had built bridges and had cabeled the bridges to rocks and/or trees. Maybe now when the creek rises it won't wash the bridges away. One of the bridges was curved and pretty high above the creek. Impressive bridge building!

Thanks Judi and Gene for a great hike! I got home and got my pink highlighter out and marked off another trail!


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Fiery Gizzard Day Loop

The South Cumberland SP advertised a hike on Sunday with a Ranger to Sycamore Falls. I went for the hike but the Ranger had been called to the Stone Door for an emergency so I decided to hike the day loop while I was there. There were several vehicles in the parking lot and a few hikers coming off the trail. One couple started just ahead of me, so I took my time enjoying the beautiful day. I saw some valentines along the trail; a blue rock with a heart on it.

The couple ahead of me stopped to take pics at the Blue Hole so I stopped to say Hi and offer to take their pic for them. They were from Georgia and had come up the day before and were exploring the area. I told them about the trail and surrounding areas, and then hiked on. It sprinkled a little bit before I got back to the car. Even tho I didn't hike very long, I still made the required after hike stop at the Dutch Maid Bakery. One strawberry filled jelly roll, and a Tennessee Moonshine wedding cake. Mmmm good.


Saturday, February 11, 2017

McGill Creek

Lora and I hiked the McGill Creek segment of the Cumberland Trail from Downy View Road to McGill Creek. This segment is under construction. We parked by the fence and followed the flagging. There are two sections on the way to the creek that are built trail. You walk through the woods then follow a small stream down into the McGill Creek gorge. There is a waterfall just before you get to the creek. Beautiful area.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Cumberland Trail - Arch Mt. Section

Lora and I headed out the hike the Arch Mt. section of the Cumberland trail. We dropped off a car at Frozen Head State Park where the ranger told us the story of rescuing some backpackers the night before.  They had gotten cold and couldn't get a fire started. It had gotten down to around 0 degrees.

We started the hour and a half journey over to Smoky Creek. We took the Southern route which traveled along 116, Shea Road, and then Smoky Creek Road. Lots of gravel and you feel like you are out in the middle of nowhere.

After finding the parking lot we started with our crossing of Smoky Creek. Cold and wide! Soon afterwards we found that you are going to really have to pay attention to the blazes. This trail is in need of hikers and volunteers to do some clearing. We cleared as much as we could along the way, but it needs lots of feet on the trail and it is going to need some chain saws as well.

The trail travels through some very pretty areas along the creek. The water runs out as you climb to the ridge for the rest of the hike to Frozen Head. In the description at mile 5 heading South (8 if heading North), it is a little misleading. There is no water or camping area once you start climbing and you get above the creek.

We camped just above the spring for the creek up on the hill side. We got a good fire going, but the wind picked up and gave us a challenge dodging the smoke. We had to get up a couple of times to restake our tarps.

Once you are on the ridge there are a lot of views especially this time of year. It was a little hazy for our hike, but you could see a long ways.

This trail is quite strenuous.


Sunday, January 29, 2017


Lora and I headed to Laurelbrook on our mountain so she could show me two trails that led to a fall and a point. She had found these a few days ago and wanted to hike them. So when we got there the first hike was 0.4 miles to the 20' Brush Creek Falls. Then we drove around to the point trail and hiked 0.5 miles out to an overlook of Roaring Creek Gorge.

After we got back we did a map search on the area to find where we were and what we were looking at. We found out that we had hiked to this fall before from the other side off of Rigsby road.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

SMHC Abrams Falls-Cooper Road

Billy and Steve from the SMHC organized a great hike with Jeremy Lloyd, Naturalist from Tremont Institute. We started in Cades Cove at the parking lot for Elijah Oliver cabin. There were more than 15, less than 20 hikers.The forest around here had been burned at some point and Jeremy was teaching us to look at the forest as we hiked. We saw some interesting things today. A bear paw print beside a deer hoof print in the dirt. Some old coyote scat with persimmon seeds in it. A pitch pine among a white pine forest, and learned to recognize it. And Abrams Creek is the lowest elevation in the Park. And you can see Look Rock tower from the trail.

We hiked from Abrams Falls to Hatcher Mountain; it was good to see the pines growing again after the tornado in 2011 ripped the forest apart here. The forest renews itself after fires and tornados, it just takes time. Some of the pines were 5 years old; we learned from Jeremy how to count the whorls of limbs to count the age of the pines. We found a sunny place on the trail to have lunch, and a few found a good spot to stretch out for a little while.

From Hatcher Mountain to Cooper Road, the 5.5 miles I needed for map marking! And back to the cars. 13-14 miles. Didn't get Wet Bottoms this time. Maybe next trip. We came out with more than 15 less than 20 hikers so I guess the 10% rule worked.

Thanks Jeremy, Billy and Steve for a great hike!


Friday, January 20, 2017

MLK Smoky Mountain Weekend 2017

Garnett planned a great weekend for the 12 of us. Staying in a huge log home in Pigeon Forge, hiking every day, sharing meals and cooking duties, relaxing and hanging out. I got there in time for dinner Thursday evening, added my cough medicine to a variety of bottles on a side table and filled up on black bean chili and chicken chili, served by Judi and Nora, yummy! Amy took me on a tour of the house, 9 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms, some with Jacuzzis, two living rooms, various decks, hot tub area, and huge upper parking area. Roscoe’s Retreat can sleep 18 (more if you want to camp on the decks).
Friday after a great breakfast we carpooled to Elkmont and hiked Curry Mt/Meigs Mt trails, got back to the cabin for Judi’s treats for hungry hikers. Another wonderful dinner by Amy and Linda, and the hot tub for relaxing tired muscles and an evening walk to top it off.
Saturday, after another yummy breakfast, we took advantage of the weather outlook for no rain and hiked Alum Cave.  Impressive trail work, new footbridge, cables in the rocky areas, steps built, two years of restoration work well done! We had a candle lighting and prayers for remembering Betty’s son Chris while at Mt LeConte, she said he loved this trail journey. Such a lovely way to honor his memory.
Nancy and I grilled chicken and asparagus on the charcoal grills outside. Haven’t used charcoal in a long while. We had to use a flashlight and headlamps to finish up, and her yummy roasted veggies, salad and apple pie filled us up. And another evening walk kept me from falling asleep too early.
Sunday we filled up on another yummy breakfast then we drove up Newfound Gap to Kanati Fork trail… well actually we passed the trail and parked at Kephart Prong and walked back up the road. Have to get those extra miles in! It was a little wet so we had a variety of colors in all the raingear. Uphill, and a mudslide about a mile in, two hikers got down and dirty. Lunch at the junction then back down. Then to Oconoluftee Visitor Center where we met up with Amy, Nora and Judi who had hiked the Tow String Trail and they reported it was not the mud bath they expected, but in good condition. We hiked the River Trail to the park boundary, a lovely hike along the river. Back to the cabin for more delicious munchies from Judi’s magic supply. Dinner by Garnett, cornbread, brisket so very tender, cornbread, salad, and did I mention cornbread??? Delicious.
Monday morning pack up and breakfast bagels by Gloria Dale and all the lovely leftovers and fruit. Hugs and goodbye’s to Amy, Nora, Gloria Dale, Cathy, Marietta, Dianna, Betty, and Judi who were all heading home, Nancy, Linda, Garnett and I headed to Cosby to hike Maddron Bald/Gabe’s Mountain so Linda could finish Gabes for her map. We had a pretty hike to campsite #34 which is really pretty and has lots of room. Had lunch and music here, then hiked back with Garnett practicing her balancing act along the trail. Impressive. Back at the trailhead we parted ways, and I drove to Cherokee Orchard Road to see if it was open. It was even though the fires had burned all thru this area, there were full parking lots for Rainbow Falls and at the gate for Grotto Falls. Good to know for future map marking.

Happy to have had this MLK weekend with all these fabulous ladies. This was their 10 anniversary for MLK hiking weekends. Congratulations!