Saturday, May 20, 2017

Clear Creek - TN River

Finished exploring Clear Creek off  the Tennessee River North of the Hwy 30 Bridge. We put in on the East side of the bridge and paddled up stream to Clear Creek. Saw some baby ducks, they swam as fast as they could to hide while mama duck tried her best to distract us. Two different osprey nests were being fiercely guarded by the parents. They didn't like our canoe, As we paddled into a more shallow part of the creek we got to see lots of gar, and one swimming snake.
The waves in the river got higher on the way back to the boat ramp. Lora got some steering practice, a few close encounters with logs. More practice time needed...


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Hyatt Ridge

The Chattanooga Hiking Club planned this hike. I met Jamison and Ashley in Hixson and rode to the Oconoluftee Visitor's Center where we met Barbara our hike leader and the other 12 hikers. We loaded up and drove to Straight Fork Road and left a couple of cars at the Hyatt Ridge trailhead and drove on the the Beech Gap Trail. Four hikers took off for their 16 mile day, and the rest of us hiked uphill to campsite #44 where we had lunch. This campsite doesn't look as pretty as it did 6 years ago. Hogs have rooted up the area and the grass was high around the bear hangers. A couple hiked by and told us about a man-way that goes by the spring and continues on from here. Will have to check it out sometime.

Five of us left the campsite with all the car keys so we could collect all the cars and get them to the Hyatt Ridge trailhead. Joyce and I got to see a snake but it wiggled away too fast for me to get a pic. And no I didn't scream..... We saw lots of wildflowers; painted trillium, Southern red trillium, umbrella leaf,  wild ginger and more Solomon's seal than I have ever seen.

We moved all the cars and hung out until everyone came down the hill. I rode back to Chattanooga with Boe and Monty after a scenic trip around Big Cove and Cherokee.

It was a great hike and a fun time with CHC.


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Rainbow Falls - Benton Falls

Lora and I headed out to the Cherokee National Forest to find waterfalls on the Chilhowee Trail System. We went to the Tennessee Landforms website and located falls to search for.

We started out at the Clemmer Trailhead on Hwy 30. It was 1.7 miles out to the "Rainbow Falls" according to their map. On the trail sign it just said water falls. There were a couple of good water crossings to be done on the way out there going across Rock Creek.

The first fall you come to is the 20' Rock Creek Falls. Off to your left there is a path going up along the rock wall. Once up on the rock wall you continue hiking to the 40' Chestnut Mountain Falls. From there you will notice water coming in from the left. Climb up the bank through the rhododendron about fifty yards to the 25' Thornburg Ridge Falls Which flows from under a large rock bridge. Continue to work your way above the falls to find yourself facing the 16' Big Bluff Falls.

We hiked back to the car and then headed to the Benton Falls trailhead at McKamy Lake. We did the 0.5 mile hike around the lake first. You can just  go straight over the dam to get to the trail. As you head down to the base of Benton Falls you will notice a footpath to the right when the trail makes a left. This footpath ends shortly and you have to climb through the rhododendron to the 20' Silvermine Creek Falls. Straight ahead across the creek you can climb through the rhododendron to view the 20' Elora Falls. We headed back to the car and almost made it before the rain poured down on us.


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Beard Cane

Day One:6.8
Gold Mine Trail 0.8
Cooper Road Trail 2.4
Beard Cane Trail 3.6
Day Two:6.8
Beard Cane Trail 3.6
Cooper Road Trail 2.4
Gold Mine Trail 0.8
Total Miles: 13.6

A quick trip to the Smokys for an overnight trip. Lora needed to hike the Beard Cane trail to mark it off her list.

It was a warm weekend and there was a little sweating going on. The Gold Mine trail and Cooper Road trails are both old road beds. Beard Cane is a path which follows the Beard Cane creek even through the creek bed a few times. There is a section where campsite #11 used to be that the tornado had gone through. There is still a marker there, but you couldn't get off that section of trail for nothing. It is a bit grown up there as all the trees are down and lots of sun get to the trail.

These are great trails to hike if you want to see lots of wild flowers. Beard Cane is even good for picking up ticks. We saw white and yellow Trilliums, Dwarf Crested Iris, Wild Geraniums, Shuttleworth's Ginger, Tea Berry, Pink Lady Slippers, Pussytoes, Chickweed, Maple Leaf Viburnum, Galax, Foam Flower, Dog Hobble, Flame Azalea, Mountain Laurel, Magnolia, Tulip Poplar, Trumpet vine, and Honey suckle. Even got to eat a few berries off the Tea Berry.

Got to see a Turkey, Blue Heron, lots of lizards and butterflies. One lizard tried to hitch a ride on my pack. Luckily I saw him before I put it on my back. Saved a heart attack.

At campsite #3 we enjoyed getting into Hesse Creek to cool off. We had one day hiker come through that we visited with at camp an a couple we visited with on the way up Gold Mine.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ladies Easter Backpack 2017

We had a plan for 5 days in the Cataloochie area starting at Flat Creek but we heard the road was closed so, Plan B:

I met Diane and Linda at the Cataloochie Campground and left a car at the Caldwell Fork trailhead. Then drove to Cove Creek Gap to start our backpack. This is the trailhead for the Cataloochie Divide Trail. There were a lot of cars but most belonged to a group coming off the Asbury Trail. We headed out around 2 or so walking along the border of the park, with fences or pieces of fences. Views are good and old chestnut logs are on the ground. Old growth trees. Blackberry briers are here too so summertime will have treats here. We didn't see any mountain lions but did see lots of wildflowers. We found a shelter in a field. And the Swag, a private resort that had an ice cream cooler. But it wasn't time for an after hike treat yet. We got the junction with Hemphill Bald Trail, and started down the hill and then to Caldwell Fork where we startled a Junco and got to see its nest with 3 eggs. Campsite 41 was pretty full when we arrived, one cowboy camp with horses and mules. We found an empty site with no fire ring but our closest neighbors invited us to their campfire. Zac and Mark were super nice and let us check out their gear, a gravity filter, hammock and under quilt that Zac had made, and his lightweight chair that Linda kicked back in. Cigars and cough meds were shared.
Miles: 9.6

Day 2
We left our camping gear and started out with light packs to hike Rough Creek, Hemphill Bald, and Caldwell back to 41. Rough Creek was an uphill climb but we heard a lot of birds singing to us. When we got to Polls Gap there were vehicles parked there??? and a turkey walking around. So the road was open?? Oh well, Diane pointed out the Polls Gap Trail that has been temporarily closed for a long time, probably never will reopen. We headed out Hemphill Bald Trail up and down and dodging elk droppings. The bald was a steep climb but we got phone signals, but my baby was ignoring me. The rock table and benches were nice but the wind was whipping. We took a few pics and headed down down down back to campsite 41. Linda cooked Jiffy Pop popcorn, courtesy of Zac, over her cook stove and it was great!
Miles: 13.6

Day 3
Happy Easter, Resurrection Day! Back to full packs, we headed out saying goodbye to the cowboys, horses and pack mules. We went to Plan C and hiked Caldwell to McKee Branch and started climbing to the Divide. McKee Branch was heavily used by the mountain people traveling from Caldwell to the other side of the divide. We saw remnants of home sites, pieces of iron and glass, and did some rock hopping. At the top we took a break, and had phone signals again. This time I got to talk to Craig!  We saw a trail going down the other side of the divide, decided to check it out. We found a sign for the Ferguson Cabin, so Diane and I explored while Linda kicked back. The cabin is one that is being preserved by the Log Cabin Syrup company. There is a spring house with buttercups growing all around. We started back and Diane saw an owl, I missed it. Twice. We got back to the divide and found Linda stretched out enjoying the sunshine. We ate lunch and watched two young girls come down the trail with their dogs?? Hmmm evidently the dogs can't read. They informed us there was a much nicer place to sit at the Swag with chairs and a hammock. We flew back down the trail to Caldwell and found the 3 crossings with no bridges.  Refreshing for our feet. Out to the car and on to the campground, dropped Linda off to set up camp, drove to get the other car which was covered with dust. I drove out to the highway to get ice for the cooler. After supper we drove to the fields to see the elk and turkeys and talk with the volunteer. She was watching for a mama bear with two cubs that had been reported hanging out in the area. Didn't see them. Got to hear barred owls talking and heard a huge tree fall during the night.
Miles: 9.1

Day 4
We got up at daylight and drove to the Big Fork Ridge Trail, watching the wildlife. We were hiking up the trail and found elk in the woods, and then on the trail, then another and another. 14 elk! This trail is very well maintained by the volunteer we talked to yesterday. Lots of straight tall tulip poplars and lots of wildflowers. Linda found another Junco nest with 4 eggs. Then to the Boogerman Trail with old growth trees, needed 4 more hikers to hug these trees. We had to climb over a few blow downs. Had a few sprinkles. Back at camp we drove to the visitor center. Read about the area and looked at pictures and the big barn.
Campfire and a great horned owl talked to us.
Miles: 8.5

Day 5
We packed up and drove the winding curvy road out to Maggie Valley, got proper coffee, found the Blue Ridge Parkway and drove up into the clouds. Avoiding the wildlife we made it to the trailhead for Flat Creek Trail at Balsam Mountain Road where the gate was closed. Left a car then drove back to the other end of the trail. Hiked down to the creek then crossed it several times. It's a beautiful trail but wet and slick, moss covered everything, lots of ferns. At the other end there are benches to sit on to enjoy the view (in clear weather) and a picnic area on the hill side. Drove to get the other car then followed Diane and Linda who were following an elk down the mountain. Thru Cherokee, to Bryson City and the Cooper Creek Trail. The Trout Farm was open so we got to park .1 from the trailhead. Hiked around a long segment of creek/trail and along side the creek. Went our separate ways, them to possibly stay in Deep Creek, I headed home. Got news from Nancy that cancelled our next weekend at Joyce Kilmer so Diane and Linda headed back to Nashville.
Miles: 3.6
I marked off 8 trails on my map! Thanks Diane!

Total miles: 44.4

Wild flowers seen: Bluets, Robin Plantain, Showy Orchis, Chickweed, Painted Trillium, Southern Red Trillium, Stone crop, Dog Hobble, Buttercups, Foam Flower, Bishops Cap, Slender and Cut-leaf Toothwort, White fringed Phacelia, Larkspur, Bloodroot, Cinquefoil, Bellwort, Wild Oats, Spring Beauties, Blue Cohosh, Clinton's Lily, Hellebore, Canada Maylily, Solomon's Seal, and False, Anemone, Early Meadow Rue, Wild Ginger, Dutchman's Breeches, Squirrel Corn, Hepatica, Squaw Root, Brook Lettuce, Golden Alexander, Wild Phlox, and several violets of all colors. Spice bush was blooming and we found two Morel mushrooms.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Honey Creek/Twin Arches

I drove to Big South Fork to meet up with the hikers from Highland Rim, Nashville and Murfreesboro. I was also looking for the road to the Double Arches I had heard about from the Nature Conservancy. I found the road, then drove to Honey Creek. 9 hikers today, most had been here before, some had not. We had a few creek crossings, with a couple of wet feet, but we never changed into our water shoes. We managed to rock hop and log hop, and maneuver our way thru and across. Lunch was at a rock house with entertainment from 3 young backpackers climbing and jumping and making us wonder if we would need Michael's big first aid kit. Trying to figure out meal times between two time zones could make a hiker hangry. But I made it.

When we got back to the parking lot we drove to the parking for the Double Arches. It's just a short walk in and you walk across the top of the arch then down and around to see the one underneath. Such a cool thing to see. Then 5 hikers headed for Nashville and Tullahoma, and 4 of us headed to Bandy Creek Campground. Marietta, Kathy and Jan had camped Friday night and had firewood and snacks ready. I set up my hammock and we started collecting firewood. Kathy got a good fire going and we kicked back and enjoyed our evening. We watched the stars put on a show and got to hear a whippoorwill sing.

Early Sunday morning I heard a Barred owl talk for a little while. It was a chilly morning so I got a fire started so we could warm our fingers while packing up. Kathy decided to head back toward home and sight see along the way, so Jan, Marietta and I drove up the Divide Road to the Twin Arches.

There were quite a few cars in the parking lot but we had room. We hiked the Twin Arches/Charit Creek Loop. We had a snack at the lodge while Jan checked out the facilities for a future stay. It was a beautiful hike with lots of wildflower sightings. Yellow and red Trilliums, Spring Beauties, Blood root, white, yellow and purple violets, Bishop's Cap, Cinuefoil Hepatica, Anemone, Columbine, Little Brown Jugs, Star Chickweed. If I missed some, someone remind me.

We said goodbye see you soon, I stayed and ate my lunch at the picnic tables in the parking area. I don't know when these were added but it looks fairly new. As I drove out I noticed a small shallow pond and stopped to check for salamander eggs, but found tadpoles instead.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

SMHC Backpack

I drove to Maryville to meet up with the SMHC for a backpack/trail maintenance day. We were ready for the drive to Newfound Gap and then to Smokemont to drop off a car. Steve and Tim brought tools for the four of us. Tim carried the loppers, Steve carried the weed whacker and a saw, Amanda had clippers and a folding saw, I had clippers. Ready for battle. We got stopped right away by a group wanting to take our pic and give us trail snacks. They were with the Tremont scavenger hunt team and thought we were thru hikers. There was a lot of traffic between Newfound Gap and Charlies Bunion. We started our maintenance after the Bunion, leaving the crowd behind. Clipping with stitches in my hand from a week ago was challenging (builds character) and sawing limbs left handed was not as easy as I hoped. We managed to wrestle some trees out of the trail but a few are going to have to wait for the chainsaw crew. We cleared trail all the way to Pecks Corner.

There were beautiful views all along the way and we had to stop and soak up as much as we could of all those gorgeous mountains. The Sawteeth always are impressive; Tim pinpointed Bradley's View.

It was supper time by the time we got the shelter. It was a full house with tents all around. I claimed my spot inside but was willing to go hang my hammock if necessary. Evidently hammocks are a no no around the shelters per the head Ranger. With all the thru hikers it's necessary for tents to be allowed. I don't understand how the hammocks would be worse.... The hiker next to the wall was already in his sleeping bag when I got there. Early midnight for him I guess.

I heard a lot of comments from some of the NOBOs about coming back to the Smokies after they finish the AT; they want to see more of this beautiful place. They were all in bed by 7. Thru hikers midnight. It poured down rain during the early morning. It was a good time to sleep in, but two hikers were up and ready to go before daylight, must have been the 23 miles per day pair.  By daylight most of the rain was gone. We cooked, packed, and then started cleaning up around the shelter. One of the thru hikers got a bag and started picking up trash, old socks and things people had left. We filled up the mulch buckets for the privy, and picked up everything but the tissue blooms, that's above and beyond what we do even with gloves on. Tim tied the trash onto his pack, the other guy must have carried the bag out with him (many thanks) after thanking us for all we were doing. This was my first work trip with the club. The rest of the AT maintainers are the hard workers. Read their work reports, you already see their efforts where you hike and sleep and get your water. Their work goes on all year long.

We left with our rain gear on and started up the hill, noticing a couple of hammocks hanging a little ways from the shelter. Then I heard the thump thump thump of a grouse, then a woodpecker laughing. and later another grouse thumping. There sure was a lot of uphill going down Hughes Ridge, getting the 2.6 miles segment I needed for my map :) The rain stopped and it got warm.

Then Chasteen Creek where we went straight down watching for a spur that we somehow missed, seeing beautiful cascades and enjoying the creek views. Stopped at campsite 48 for lunch and resting our feet from the rocky trail. Then to Bradley Fork and out to Smokemont. We piled into Tim's vehicle and started up the road climbing into the rain cloud. I rode back to Maryville with Amanda and managed to leave my shoes in her car. I didn't notice it until I was 30 minutes away. I sent her a message and she sent back one saying she also found my poles and water bottle. Oh my! She said she would mail them ASAP.

She did and the box was at my garage on Tuesday evening. I think she sent a drone to deliver so quickly :)