Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ware Branch, TN River

We headed out from Soddy again putting in at Armstrong road again.  We paddled out and across the main river and headed South on the East side.  We hit all the inlets with the longest being Ware Branch.  We crossed under Thatch Road and went to most inland part of Ware Branch.  On the way out we went straight across the TN river and followed the West side back up to where we put in.  9.21 Miles today.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Cumberland Trail Building

The Cumberland Trail Conference hosted a National Public Lands Day event spanning yesterday and today. Besides Tony Hook and staff there were a large number of Volunteers that showed up both days in order to construct/extend the trail on the Graysville Mountain section of the Cumberland Trail. The section we worked on was located near Dayton, TN off of Highway 30. Anyone in our area that wasn't there missed out on helping to provide something that will live on for generations to come. We had one gentleman by the name of Charlie which traveled all the way from Lexington, Kentucky to help out both days after he read about the event. Way to go Charlie!

I helped out Saturday on the trail work. Worked with a lot of great folks adding to the Cumberland Trail. Thanks to Tony Hook for all your hard work. 


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lora's Hawk Watching

Lora found an article in the Tennessee Conservationist magazine about Hawk watching in Soddy Daisy.  We went out Saturday evening to see what they had going on and met Bill who filled us in on what they do.  Lora went out the following day and got to meet the actual people interviewed by the magazine and spent the day with them.  Attached is a segment on from there blog Soddy Mountain Hawk Watch:
Saturday 9-21 was pretty much a total rain out until the last hour of the day.  Bill Holt and Lora McBride had about one half hour of blue skies but never saw any migrants.

Sunday 9-22-13 was our best day so far this season!  The skies were washed clean of haze earlier in the day.
  • Temps were from 66 degrees at 1000 up to 77 degrees at 1800.
  • Barometric Pressure 29.90 dropped to 29.87
  •  Humidity dropped from 65% down to 43%
  • Wind was variable at times but mostly from the North to Northeast up to 12 MPH
  • Visibility ranged from 40 kilometers to 45 K and then back to 40 K
  • Cloud Cover was off and on from 0% to 5% making it extremely hard to see birds in the clear blue skies.
We had many wonderful visitors to include: Lora McBride, Bob Saunders and Millie his wonder dog, Pete & Marg Krampee, Ruth Ann Henry, Kathy Andregg who drove up from Acworth, Georgia, Charles Murray and Carla Quinn brought her parents Martha and Ben Hall.

 Jimmy & Cynthia along with Bill Holt logged: 622 Broad-winged Hawks, 3 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 1 Cooper's Hawk, 1 Osprey and 3 adult Bald Eagles.(assisted by our count helpers)

...SPECIAL RECOGNITION needs to go out to Lora McBride who helped us get on so many of the single specks as well as several kettles.  Pete Krampee no doubt has a special ability to just look up and see specks the rest of us needed binoculars to see.  Marge Krampee also got on a group of near 100 birds while others were looking at another 100 in the opposite direction.  

Year to date we have seen:
  • 1353  Broad-winged Hawks
  • 4  Osprey
  • 11  Sharp-shinned Hawks
  • 3  Cooper's Hawks
  • 2  American Kestrels
  • 1  Peregrine Falcon
  • 5  Bald Eagles < 4 adults, 1 sub adult, 4th. year >
  • 1  early Red-shouldered Hawk
  • 1 un-identified accipiter

If you've stuck with me thus far, from the bottom of our hearts THANK YOU! to Louise Zepp for her wonderfully spectacular article in THE TENNESSEE CONSERVATIONIST  about our special place we call Soddy Mountain Hawk Lookout.  She is a unique writer and was factual to the last degree in every word she wrote and also the photo layout she selected. [Thanks Vicki Henderson for your  great kettle of BW’s(pic), C.]

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Montgomery Bell

DAY ONE: 7.7 miles
Wildcat trail 0.25
M.Bell trail 4.5
Creech Hollow trail 1.2
M. Bell trail 0.25
Spillway trail 1.0
M. Bell trail 0.25
Wildcat trail 0.25

DAY TWO: 8.5 miles
Wildcat trail 0.75
Ore Pit Loop trail 1.0
M. Bell trail 4.0
Woodland Shelter trail 1.0
Creech Hollow trail 1.2
M. Bell trail 0.25
Wildcat trail 0.25

Lora and I won a free night stay at any state park inn, for sending in a story about a state park, so we headed out to Montgomery Bell State Park for the weekend.  We checked in at the Inn and found out that the motorcycle club Christian Motorcyclists Association was having a convention here.  There were a lot of really nice bikes on the grounds.

We moved into our room and then headed out on the trail.  We started out on the Wildcat trail leaving from the Inn heading to the Montgomery Bell trail.  We headed North and then around the North side of Lake Acorn.  We saw the first of many deer here.  We got to the Wildcat shelter and noticed that they had taken the bunk beds out that they had the last time I was here with the Outcasthikers and replaced them with a single shelf.  They also added two benches next to the campfire ring.  We stopped at the next water crossing for lunch.

We hiked to the Creech Hollow trail and took it along Creech Hollow lake.  There were quite a few fishermen out.  From the Creech Hollow trail we headed West on the M. Bell trail to the Spillway trail which we took to Lake Woodhaven.  Lora did her famous snake scream on the Spillway trial which of course not only scared me and all wildlife within a mile, but about gave the black snake a heart attack as well.  We enjoyed the peace and views of the lake for a while and then headed back the way we came.

We hiked the M. Bell trail back to the Wildcat trail and back to the inn.  We got cleaned up and then headed for the steak and shrimp dinner buffet.  It was good!  After stuffing our selves we walk up Hotel Avenue and took the Beach Avenue back to the Inn for the night.

The next morning after the breakfast buffet, we headed back out hiking.  We took the Wildcat trail across the road to the Ore Pit trail doing the Western side of the loop checking out the pits.  We stopped and checked out the McAdow cabin, the Presbyterian monument, and then the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  Lora took time out to play a couple of songs for me on the piano.

Then we headed South on the M. Bell trail.  We took us a break at the Hall Spring shelter then took a snack break at Lake Woodhaven where we watched a fisherman battle a big Catfish.  We checked out the Woodland shelter and then headed back to the Inn on the Creech Hollow trail.

This is a beautiful park to visit and the trails are all in good condition.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Frozen Head - TTA

Camping/Hiking weekend at Frozen Head State Park arranged by Joan and Sara. We had 13 campers- Joan, Sara, Marietta, Richard, Wayne, Linda, Kat, Marcia, Greg, Steve, Cindy, Gary, and me.  I got there after work Friday evening right after most everyone else came off the trail for the day. Greg and Cindy got there after I did.  Kat had a campfire burning and had gathered wood for the weekend. It looked like tent city in the group campsite. Plus two adjoining sites had more tents. I brought veggies and dip to go along with all the other munchies and goodies. Supper was baked and fried chicken, potato salad, slaw, baked beans, macaroni and cheese. Dessert was peanut butter cookies and chocolate cake with a candle for the birthday girl. Sara, Linda and I all have September birthdays. We visited and sat around the campfire. Owls talked to us thru the night.

Saturday dawned clear and sunny. Sherry and Carolyn joined us for the day. The trail for the day was up the Lookout Tower trail to Bird Mountain. We saw Castle Rock, Mushroom Rock and the Retention Pond where we had lunch. Some of our hikers descended on North Old Mac after Castle Rock while the rest continued on the Cumberland Trail. Parts of the trail are overgrown with grass, briers and stinging nettle. We need more folks walking the trail to keep it clean. At Ross Gap we went down a rutted road bed climbing thru downed tree branches. At the end was a creek with really cool water, boots and socks came off and splish splash. A little further down the road was a swimming hole. Gary jumped in and Cindy and I were right behind him. Refreshing! Back at camp, into dry clothes, we went into Wartburg to have dinner at El Patron. The food and service were great. When we left we stopped at a few local stores to find liquid refreshment for the night. After conferring with a local police officer we found what we were looking for without totally incriminating ourselves. Another great campfire and visiting. More owls sang to us. 5 of us used our headlamps to walk to the entrance to an open area to watch the stars. No moon, dark, bright stars, one really good meteor, growling bear???, barred owls, one screech owl, then walked back to camp. Everyone else was already turning in for the night. We turned in too. Really early morn, a great horned owl woke everyone up for a concert. It was so cool.

Sunday morning, we ate and packed up camp. One headed home, 3 were going to check out the park for a while and head home; one was covered with chiggers and suffering, the rest of us drove to the entrance and started the South Old Mac Trail. We hiked up to the junction to North Old Mac and 2 more hikers headed back. The rest of us kept climbing and had lunch at the tower where there was a pile of flowers blooming around the area. 3 hikers started back. Back at the junction the rest of us (4) checked out the Panther Gap Rockhouse. The North Old Mac is a really pretty trail. There was a spur trail out to an overlook with a campsite but no known water source right there. We looked for water as we hiked on down. There were several places where water would be coming down the ridges in wet season, mostly dry today. At the end of the trail, Joan was going to head home, Gary, Cindy and I headed for the swimming hole. We cooled off before the drive home. Middle TN for them, south on 27 for me.

Great weekend in a beautiful park with great friends.    


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Eagle Creek Hike

Three ladies with a long weekend went to the Smokey Mountains to backpack.

Garnett invited us to come to her house Friday night so we could get an early start on Saturday. She was baking apple pies and blueberry crumb cake when I got there and the kitchen smelled wonderful. Nancy and Amy came in with wine and cheese. We had a wonderful supper and enjoyed the slumber party.

Saturday’s morning shower washed the day clean. We drove to Cades Cove to leave our shuttle cars. Getting there just as the gates opened at 10 hindered our parking for a little while. You cannot leave cars in the picnic area overnight at the Anthony Creek Trailhead where we would be exiting the trail. We left them in the gravel lot where the horse ride area is. 

We drove around the loop to Parsons Branch Road. Drove that way to 129 to Fontana Marina for our shuttle. Lots of motorcycles on the Dragon Tail and around Deals Gap. We made it to our boat shuttle with 5 minutes to spare. 

Danny took us on the pontoon to Campsite 90 to drop us off. The sun was shining bright by now. We had our lunch at the campsite, but not in the rock sectional sofa where we wanted to eat; it was underwater! Lots of kayakers were staying at this camp. 

We hiked to Eagle Creek and put on our water shoes for the day. We had 8 creek crossing to get to campsite 96 which is on an island in the split of the creek. Good camping area with a nice spot in the creek for the ladies to do a little skinny dipping. Our firewood was a little damp but we got it burning anyway. During the night I had a visitor by my tent that made a blowing noise right by my open tent flap; I yelled, it jumped and took off. Woke up Amy and Nancy with my yelling.  Think it was a deer.

Woke up at daylight, rain shower made me run back to the tent. Got back up to cook breakfast, another shower had us eating in out tents. It finally stopped, packed up wet tents, put on water shoes for 8 more creek crossings. Had another shower after we started walking. Put on the boots when we started climbing. 

The trail goes straight up in places.  It was muddy here and there with seeps running in the trail in a couple of places.  Lots of trees had blown down in this area; someone did a lot of sawing to get all the downfall out off the trail. I kept looking for the rope or cable to help me up the hills, and kept hearing whimpering noises, with a little groaning to go along with it. Realized it was me whimpering. I had to wipe sweat out of my eyes to be able to look up to see the next climb. We did have a couple of switchbacks, the rest was straight up. 

We did see a lot of mushrooms and fungi, dead men’s fingers and eyeballs. Not sure of their Latin names…… We also saw Cardinal Flower, Bee Balm, lots of yellow and white bloomers, snails, salamanders, bees, blood, sweat, tears….ok not blood. 

We had two rock hops on the way up, one of us managed to get wet, so much for dry boots. We were so happy to find the water source for the shelter even if it wasn’t enough to jump into. It runs out of a metal pipe. 

We unloaded all our wet gear and spread it out to dry at the shelter. Some young hikers came by for water. They were from Chicago and wanted to hike on to Rocky Top while they were close. A little later the rain came again. Glad to be in the shelter. Four backpackers came in after hiking 17 miles, all National Guard guys, couple of them on their first backpack. I heard some more groans and whimpering only it wasn't me this time. One guy said even his eyebrows hurt.  17 miles in the Smokies would make anybody hurt. They told us bedtime stories to put us to sleep. Two more backpackers (husband and wife from WV) came in and climbed into their sleeping bags. It was her first time backpacking.  Thought it was morning when I heard some talking and eating going on, looked at the time 4:30??? Not Yet!

Monday morning sunshine greeted us as we headed for Russell Field Trail along the AT. We headed downhill to the Anthony Creek Trail spotting Fringed Orchids along the way. We got to the picnic area at Cades Cove and back to the cars. I headed for home and Nancy and Amy headed back to Fontana to pick up the other car. It was a great trip with fabulous ladies to backpack with. Thanks ladies!

18.4 miles