Friday, June 22, 2012

Elkmont TTA Camping Trip

Joan Hartvigsen from Highland Rim TTA planned a camping/day hiking trip to the Smokies. Sara Pollard and Tony Jones from M’Boro and Sydney from Alabama went early Friday and hiked in the Elmont area, Cucumber Gap. I had to work Friday but got off at 2 and headed to the mountains. I got to Elkmont and found the campsite, threw my gear in the tent, and took a walk around the campground and up the road toward the trails. Picked a few dew berries and a few blackberries. Got back to camp and the others returned from their hike hungry for supper. It started thundering and the sky got dark. We all got in Sydney’s Taj Mahal tent to wait out the rain. Joette dropped by to say hi. She was staying in town to hike with Upper Cumberland the next day.

When we went to bed the owls started talking. Kids in the campground were still playing with flashlights, dogs were still restless, and the campers were still loud. Another rain shower sent everyone to bed. We got up with the birds singing about the beautiful morning. Cooked breakfast and headed out. Ramsey Cascades was our destination for the day. We stopped by Sugarland Visitor Center to pick up some GSMNP stuff and look around. Then on to the trail. The trail was beautiful. We saw Bee Balm, whorled coreopsis, several other DYF, and some white ones too. The rhododendron was blooming everywhere on the trail. So pretty! We finally huffed and puffed our way to the Cascades and had lunch…with all the other hikers that came to see the Cascades. On the way back down we saw a colorful snake. No timber rattler this time. When we got off the trail, we had to drive thru Gatlinburg to get back to Elkmont. We stopped at the Hard Rock CafĂ© for supper. It was pretty tasty. We walked around for a little while and then back to the camp. We hung out for a while talking and sipping cough syrup. A fine evening.

Sunday morning, birds singing come out and play….we got up and took down the camp and headed to the next trail adventure. We went to Laurel Falls. Pretty hike and the most popular one in the Park; trail is paved and accessible to most everyone. It’s only 1.3 miles to the waterfall. Lots of folks at the falls, we seemed to be the only ones going on further. Tony decided to hang out and take pictures. The rest of us walked on. Up, up, up we were headed to Cove Mountain tower. We were walking thru virgin forest in awe of the size of the trees. Just amazing. Feel so blessed that the loggers didn’t get them all. Saw lots more Bee Balm and I think Bergamot but could have been different Bee Balm; it was white. We also found about 20 piles of bear scat. We got to the tower and had lunch while the gnats tried to have us for lunch. We headed back down and got back to the Cascades where the crowd was. There were some folks letting their children climb on the rocks so they could get pictures of them doing dangerous things. Ignorance is bliss. Either that or they didn’t read the signs saying CONTROL YOUR CHILDREN, Dangerous! Slippery Rocks. Back to the parking lot. No bears. Wait….what’s Tony so excited about? HE saw a bear AND got pictures. While coming down the trail from the Cascades he saw a bear!

We drove into Townsend and had ice cream and milkshakes. You’ll have to ask Tony and Sydney how big their milkshakes were.

Another beautiful weekend in the mountains.


Little River Hike Pictures:

Ramsey Cascade Hike Pictures:

Laurel Falls Hike Pictures:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Cottonport WMA

Lora and I had the afternoon off so we did a little canoeing at the Cottonport WMA out of Dayton on the Tennessee River. We got to see lots of wildlife including all sorts of birds, lots of turtles, and deer. Quite a few boaters out today.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Roan Mountain Trip

Lora and I set out to explore the Roan Mountain Area.  This is a week before the rhododendron festival, but everything has bloomed a week or two early this year.  We were just on time!  We got a room at Mountain Harbour B&B to stay at and used the for information on area sights.

We highly recommend the Mountain Harbour B&B to anyone that is going to stay in the area.  A very nice place with a wonderful cook and owner.  They are located just off the AT on Hwy 19 and have a hiker Hostel too.  Or you can just pitch your tent in their yard.  I recon it is already popular as we had about thirty people for breakfast on two different mornings. 

We started out at the Unicoi Cherokee National Forest station,  We bought all the maps we needed and got some more information on the area attractions.  One being a covered bridge just down from the station.

From there we headed out to see some water falls.  We started at Millstone Creek Falls. Well actually we started out on the wrong trail.  You know it's all about the miles.  We hiked a mile or so up a trail that came to a dead end.  When we got to the car and actually read through the directions all the way, we were about 100 yards from the trail. The falls is only 150 yards from the road.  Oh well, we needed to stretch out after the car ride anyways.

From there we went to the Cherokee National Forest and hiked to Sill Branch falls. Then we hiked to Pine Ridge Falls.  Both of these hikes were about a half mile each. When we parked the car to hike to the Pine Ridge Falls, we found some black raspberries at the trailhead.  We had to take a break for some refreshments.  The falls were wonderful.  After the falls we checked into our B&B and went for dinner at the recommended Smoky Mountain Bakery.  We had a great pizza cooked in a stone oven right in the same room.  We ate out on the picnic table next to the garden where they grow their own ingredients.

The next morning we and 27 other hikers enjoyed a wonderful spread for breakfast.  It was beautiful!  All home made.  We also found that there were alot of thru hikers heading to Maine this time of year.  We packed up and rolled out the door.

We headed out to Roan Mountain (6285ft).  We parked at Carvers Gap and hiked the AT 2.2 miles up to the  Old Cloudland Hotel spot.  It is no longer there except for a small porch.  From here we took the 1.2 mile Cloudland trail to the sunset overlook, the gardens, and then to the Roan High Knob.  Sunset overlook had a beautiful view over the mountains.  The gardens had paved walkways through the rhododendron and a viewing deck built overlooking the flowers.  Roan High Knob was another great overlook.  

We stopped at the Roan High Knob shelter on the way back and also stopped for a lunch break. Once at Carvers Gap we hiked the AT 2 miles to Round Bald, Jane Bald, Grassy Bald, and another .6 miles to Grassy Ridge.  The balds were covered with rhododendron and the back side of Jane Bald with azalea.  This part of the AT had more flowers than the gardens on Roan Mountain.  It is also very popular as we meet many hikers. 

We got in atleast 12.7 miles today.  We headed to town and ate dinner at Highlander BBQ (recommended).  Very good food here.  Afterwards we drove to the trailhead of the AT on Hwy 19 to see how far it was from the B&B.  Three quarters of a mile and we found our fellow resident standing at the trailhead.  He had hiked from Carvers Gap to Hwy 19.  So we gave him a ride back.  That night we headed back into town to have ice cream at Bob's Dairyland.  WOW!

Saturday morning we had breakfast with 17 other hikers.  Then we headed out to Unaka Mountain Wilderness Area.  We started out with a short hike and big climb to Red Fork Falls.  Very beautiful and well worth the hike.  Then we headed up to Stomping Ground Ridge for a short mile long hike to what we thought was a bald.  The actual bald advertised was right at the beginning of the trail with a small campsite.  We found out that it was also home to a very large rattlesnake.  As Lora was about to step on it there was an ear piercing scream.  No, not from the snake, from Lora.  Lora jumped,I jumped, the snake jumped.  Lora panicked, I panicked, the snake panicked.  We did get some pictures after the snakes heart calmed down and he slid off the trail.

From here we drove to the Mountain overlook and then to the AT trailhead at 230.  We climbed to the summit of Unaka Mountain (5180ft) and ate lunch.  Then we hiked back down and hiked out to the Beauty Spot to check out the view.  Lots and lots of wild flowers everywhere.  After we got back to the car we drove to Rock Creek campground and hiked 2.3 miles to the Rock Creek Falls upper and lower.  Another great day of hiking.  12.8 miles.

We drove to Erwin and had dinner at Dari-Ace cafe.  Really good food there too.  We headed back to the B&B.

Sunday we got up and ate breakfast with 30 hikers.  We checked out and headed to Elk Falls which was just past the North Carolina boarder.   A 0.2 mile hike and there it is. Afterwards we headed to Hampton and hiked 1.3 miles to Laurel Falls.  Strenuous climb, but worth it.  After that we headed into Elizabethton to see the covered bridge on 3rd street.  We also walked around the block looking at historic houses.  Then we ate lunch at Dino's.  After lunch these happy hikers headed home.


More Pictures:

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Possum Creek Segment - Cumberland trail

Lora and I hiked the Possum Creek segment of the Cumberland trail.  We just had the afternoon so we hiked from Retro-Hughes Road to Imodium Falls and back.  It was about 8 miles round trip.  We got to see lots of birds, a Black Racer snake, and lots of flowers.  The trail is in excellent condition.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

National Trails Day

National Trails Day June 2
I went to Fall Creek Falls Saturday to hike the Gilbert Gaul Trail. The hike was led by Ranger Matt. We started at the Inn so the Ranger could arrange the shuttle. The trail goes around the edge of the lake. There was lots of signs of beaver activity, we didn't see any beaver. We did see snakes. Ranger Matt saw a black racer in the trail and tried to catch it. It sped into the woods. So the Ranger took a couple of steps into the edge of the woods to try and catch it. I saw another snake and said there's a copperhead! He said No it's a black racer and I said I don't think so. He had almost stepped on it when he realized it was a timber rattler. He picked it up with my hiking stick as I backed up several feet from it. He laid it down on the trail where it started to sing for us. Ewwwww creepy crawley! it was either fat or about to have babies. Ranger Matt explained that the black racer was about to have lunch....rattlesnake sandwich? We saved it!??????and its babies. Oh good, more rattlers in the woods.

We left the Gilbert Gaul Trail to check out the new trail that is being built. It will be called the Link Trail and will link the Overnight Trail to the Gilbert Gaul and backpackers can have the option of another campsite. The trail ended on the south entrance road. The van was waiting for us with t shirts and soda from the American Hiking Society.