Sunday, October 27, 2013

2013 TTA Annual Meeting at Fall Creek Falls

Lora and I attended the 2013 Tennessee Trails Association Annual Meeting which was held at Fall Creek Falls State park.  Lora went up Friday after work and I joined her Saturday morning for a group hike at Fiery Gizzard near Tracy City.  Brent Morris was our hike leader.  He did a great job and covered the history of the area along with some good stories.  John and Nancy were the other couple to join us.  The weather was great and there were a lot of hikers and backpackers on the trail.  We hiked up to Werner Point and back, a 4.8 mile hike.

After the hike we made a trip to the Dutch Maid Bakery in Tracy City.  If you are ever in the area, it is a must visit place.  We picked up some calories for the trip back to camp.

Once each year, Tennessee Trails Association members from all across the state gather for a weekend of fun, food, and fellowship. There were hikes, exhibits, programs, auction and entertainment. The Annual Meeting was held at the Fall Creek Falls State Park and Convention Center, Pikeville, Tennessee. Annual Meeting of the membership we elected Officers and Board Members, heard about TTA developments, and presented several awards recognizing individuals or organizations for their outstanding contributions to the furtherance of TTA’s missions and goals.

Our hosts for this year's event were the Plateau, Soddy-Daisy and Upper Cumberland chapters. The Theme for the 2013 TTA Annual Meeting was: My Heart and Sole belong on a Tennessee Trail.

There were 13 different hikes planned to choose from including hikes with waterfalls, rock houses, serene woods and a historic farm. The hikes varied in levels from easy to strenuous and lengths varying from 2.5 to 11.5 miles. In addition to hiking, there were programs on wildflowers, first aid, leave no trace and birds.

Tentative figures from the meeting;
   - 227 meeting attendees
   - $4400 collected in registration fees
   - $300 collected from bake sale
   - $600 collected from cash bar
   - $4000 (approx) collected from auctions (including the white elephant sale)

2014 Officers

President- Carolyn Miller- Plateau Chapter
Vice President- Levonn Hubbard- Plateau Chapter
Secretary- Diane Manas- Nashville Chapter
Treasurer- Kathy Woods- Nashville Chapter
Membership- Tim Townley- Jackson Chapter

There is a current opening for an East Tennessee Representative due to Levonn taking on the Vice President role as well our Middle and West Tennessee Reps positions will be coming open this year. If anyone is interested in serving or knows of someone who would be good in the position let me know. The regional reps help the chapters, look for opportunities to create new chapters, and assist with public relations for TTA and the chapters in their region.

Life Time Achievement Awards: Jim Schroeder and Martin McCullough 

There were lots of active hikers.  Heiss Mountain to Little Possum Creek had 21 hikers and Wheeler Farms had 45.

The next morning we joined everyone for breakfast at the lodge and then we hiked the 13 mile Upper Overnight Loop.  It was a great weekend with lots of great people.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lookout Mountain

Lora and I headed out to Lookout Mountain after church.  We parked at the Cravens House off Shingle road to start our hike.  The Cravens House is part of the Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park and is the site of intense fighting that took place in "The Battle Above the Clouds" during the Civil War.

There are more than 30 miles of trails in this area and some of them are part of the Great Eastern trail.  We took the Cravens House trail to the Bluff trail.  We visited Sunset Rock where there were alot of people and rock climbers.  The view was wonderful from on top of the rock.  Most people walk down to Sunset Rock off West Brow Road.

We continued our hike doing the rest of Bluff trail which is one of the most scenic hikes in the park.  The rock formations are fabulous along this trail.  We passed several hikers on the trail.  Do to the lack of time we had we took the Upper Truck trail back and finished on the Rifle Pits trail.  The Upper Truck trail is an old roadbed.  We ended up hiking somewhere around nine miles.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

North Chick Trail, Cumberland Trail TTA

The Plateau chapter of TTA hiked Saturday on the North Chick trail. Jim the hike leader had worked all week on the Big Soddy Creek bridge project so I got his phone message about the hike plan on my way to the trail head. We were going to hike from the new parking area on Barker Camp Rd. I met the other hikers at the Lewis Chapel exit on 111 and headed to Barker Camp.

We had about a mile walk on a dirt road before entering the woods. It’s really pretty on this end of the trail. There are views into the gorge and an overlook on a short spur trail just before Panther Branch. It overlooks North Chickamauga Creek. We found a couple of campsites that are not marked on the CT maps. Along a rock wall someone had worked really hard to build a rock fence around the end of the wall and had a fire ring just beside it with some rock furniture. Things that make you say hmmmm?

We reached the Stevenson’s Branch campsite and the waterfall was just a little more than a trickle. Then up Ladder #3 onward to where you start back up the ridge. There is another campsite here (unofficial) so we sat down and had lunch before we started climbing. It’s a tough climb up to the rock shelf. When we stopped huffing and puffing, we split up with two going on to the Montlake Road trailhead and the other two going back for the car. Don and I continued onward climbed ladder #2 and then used the cable to keep climbing. The trail then follows an old roadbed to an overlook of Boston Branch and the beautiful creek gorge. Then the wooden steps that Craig and I overlooked the last time we were here. Much easier than the goat trail. We met a lot of people and dogs along the trail on this end. Lots of folks hike to the overlook and back from the Montlake Rd. Trailhead. We checked out the mine entrance and then took the Upper Hogskin Loop to the trail head. Jim and Cheryl met us a few minutes later.

We headed back to 111 toward the beautiful Sequatchie Valley with plans to eat at the Cookie Jar Restaurant outside of Dunlap. Lots of other folks had the same plan, 1 ½ hour wait………oh well, lets just head home. Said bye and see you next week to Jim, Cheryl, and Don. Next weekend is the TTA Annual Meeting at Fall Creek Falls State Park.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Father / Son Trip 2013

Day One: 8 miles
Slickrock Creek (42) Trail 8 miles

Day Two: 5.4 miles
Big Fat Trail (41) 1.4 miles
Hangover Lead Trail (56) 3 miles
Haoe Lead (53) 1 mile

Day Three: 8.5 miles
Haoe Lead (53) 1 mile
Hangover lead (56) 5.4 miles
Ike Branch (45) 1.5 miles
Slickrock (42) 0.6 

Total Miles: 21.9

This years hike was scheduled and permitted for the Old Settlers Trail in the Smoky Mountains.  The government decided that NO YOU WILL NOT!  Plan B we decided to hike the Joyce Kilmer Wilderness Area.  No government involved, which as usual is a good thing.

I arrived at the Ponderosa to find the place of honor open in the driveway.  The van was parked to the side so I figured I had moved up in seniority.  I found this to be not true and the van was moved to unload the mulch that was loaded in the back.  I found that I arrived in time to start the new project.  So we went to slinging mulch and transplanting plants.

Shortly after we ran out of mulch, the ladies arrived from the first day of shopping.  I got to visit with my buddy Betty while the guys went and got more mulch.  After finishing the projects for the day we quickly went over maps and descriptions for the next day.

We got up the next morning and after a wonderful breakfast we headed off for the Dragon and across the Dam to find our trailhead.  Yes, the roadbed right next to the bridge is the trail parking area.

As soon as we got on the trail we noticed that the bear hunters where getting dropped off all along the river side by boat.  I got out the old orange backpack cover just to make sure there were no communication problems.

We passed the Ike trailhead and the creek when I noticed the hole in the ground.  It was like a horror movie as the ground started climbing toward me I realized that it was Yellow Jackets.  With a quick scream I ran the next thirty yards with only one sting on the leg.  After I got it brushed off, I did a check on my fellow hikers.  Steve, who was behind me, got three stings on the arm, one on the hand, and one on the side.  Dad got one sting on the arm and one on the belly.  What a way to start the hike.  Steve had run back across the creek and Dad had climbed uphill so it took a while for them to build up the nerve to get by the nest.

After we got back together, we headed on to find the trail challenging with downfalls and washouts.  After a mile we came to Slickrock Creek.  Slickrock Creek is a challenging trail.  There are 12 fordings of the creek. The trail is also washed out in different area's and the trail is rerouted with sharp climbs and descents as well as climbing rocks and over tree falls.  Lot's of slippery areas.

During one creek crossing Steve and I heard some serious sloshing going on and found Dad running down the creek.  He had tripped over a rock and was trying to catch up to his pack and upper body.  At another point after climbing rocks, going over trees, and holding on to tree roots and using the toes of our shoes to hold onto the washed out trail, I find a log running about eye level.  As I pull myself up by the log I notice that it is actually the trail.  All three of us had missed the turn off of the rerouted trail.

We did see a couple of guys from Knoxville out dayhiking.  There are campsites all along the Slickrock trail.  We stopped at the Big Fat trail connection for the night where there are numerous campsites.  We had gotten a good  workout in today and were ready for a break.  As we were collecting firewood, Steve found another Yellow Jacket nest on a trail by the campsite.  We enjoyed a quiet night by the fire telling lies and taking cough medicine.

We got up and got breakfast in us before we started the climb up Big Fat trail.  There are two fordings of Big Fat and there is a campsite at both.  The trail is all uphill, but most of the 1050 foot climb is in the last half a mile.  We took a break at the trailhead where there were many bear hunters and a father and son backpackers.

The 2189 foot climb up Hangover Lead South, not including the ups and downs in between, is a good workout.  Add in the tree falls and slick boulders it becomes a challenge.  We stopped at a down tree to enjoy our lunch.  We crossed through the color layer of trees and on to the overlook.  Dad stayed at the trail junction while Steve and I made our way through the thick brush out to the overlook.  We did get some pictures between the clouds before it totally socked us in.  We joined Dad and then continued the climb up to the ridge.  We had decided to go with plan "C" by this time.  Originally we were going to hike down the other side of the mountain by the Haoe Lead trail down to the Joyce Kilmer memorial area to see the big trees.  Instead we hiked to Naked Ground trail and camped at the campsites there.  I knew there was a good spring there from a past hike with Lora.

On the way to Naked Ground, Dad decided to be a tree hugger.  He slipped around the tree on the side of the trail with a leg on each side.  We had to pull him back up as he had a leg under him and could not get himself up.

When we got to camp we found that you really have to search to find any firewood around the area.  We had a bear hunter come through camp on his way to find the dogs.  After we got camp set up Dad showed us he still had energy to spare.  After hanging his foot on his tarp strings he flew across the camp and dove into the push-up position.  Always showing off he is.

We enjoyed the evening listening to owls and coyotes while we sat around the fire.  When Dad decided it was time for bed he climbed in his hammock and flip on the rain switch.  We decided we would go to bed as well and it rained all night long.

We got up and ate breakfast under my tarp.  Afterwards we hiked in the clouds back down the Hangover Lead trail.  The rain had stopped and we only had to put our ponchos on one other time for a short period.  The 4100 foot loss, not counting the ups and downs in between was tough on the knees today.  We took a break at the Big Fat trailhead where there were more hunters and another couple of backpackers.  From there we gained a quick 1000 foot just for practice before continuing down the mountain.  At one point Dad did a quick somersault to show us his agility.  That got us worried, but as usual he bounced right back and kept going.  Right before you get to the Ike trail you pass a sign for the Belding trail which is not on the map.

As soon as we got on the Ike trail there was a tree down in a bend of the trail which took some serious negotiating to get through.  The Ike trail continued our drop down to Slickrock.   We had five crossings and a very slick trail to follow.  Dad showed us some of his famous dance moves all along this area.  We got back on Slickrock and headed to the van.  Another great hike.

The next morning we did more yard work to ease out the tightness of the muscles.  We did some more transplanting and mulch work.  We got some good visiting in before I had to head home.


Steve's Story:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Raccoon Mountain Reservior

Lora and I headed off to Raccoon Mountain to do some hiking.  We went to the TVA reservoir on top of Raccoon Mountain.  This was our first time up there so it was neat to check it out.  Basically it is an extremely large water tower.  When they let it out it also provides electric power.

There are miles of bicycling and hiking trails around this reservoir.  We drove around the reservoir and checked everything out.  We stopped and had lunch at the Laurel Point Picnic Area and then hiked the Laurel Point and Tennessee River Gorge trails.  It is listed as a five mile loop.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Cohutta Wilderness Area

Day One: 8.6 miles
Day Two: 10.5
Day Three: 10.1
Day Four: 13.3
Day Five: 5.6
Total 48.1 Miles

We had a Smoky Mountain section of the AT planned when the government decided that we needed to go elsewhere.  Lora had talked about doing some more of the Jack's river trail so we got us up a five day hike in the Cohutta Wilderness Area.

We started at the Jack's River trailhead off Sheeds Creek Peavine Road.  There is a sign at the trailhead stating that bear have been going in tents and taking backpacks.  We hiked the 8.6 miles of it to Rough Ridge Trail.  We had 23 fords of the Jack's River under our belt the first day.  We did get to see Jack's River Falls which is always nice.  We had alot of people on the trail Saturday.  One group had been out a couple of days said that there were a lot of Copperheads which we never saw any.

The last crossing of Jack's River before Rough Creek was the deepest, but it was not over our heads as it was the last time we hiked through here.  We just got going on Rough Ridge when we found an empty campsite for the night.

We got up and started the climb after breakfast.  It is a good climb for the first half of Rough Ridge.  We never did find the trailhead for Sugar Cove which we came up last time.  We hiked the 7 miles to East Cowpen and headed to Panther Creek.  During this 2 mile section we saw our last people who had day hiked in from Service Road 64.

Panther Creek is a very steep trail.  I would rate it difficult no matter which way you did it.  I hit the ground once just for practice.  We went down 1.5 miles to a good camping area to spend the night.  They were calling for rain that night so we put the cover on the tent.  It was our only night we used the cover and it poured down hard all night long.

We were just up from the top of Panther Creek Falls when we camped so that was our first sight of the day.  It is a pretty falls at 75-85 feet tall.  It is quite the boulder hop down to the base and not may markings to follow.  We continued the 1.9 miles down to the Conasauga River for another ford.  The Conasuga River trail and Hickory Creek trail run together for about a .5 mile along the river.  We forded the Conasuga again then followed the Hickory Creek trail to the end.  Another 5.7 miles.

We walked to the trailhead parking area on SR51 to find the trailhead for Rice Camp Creek.  We hiked another 2 miles to find a campsite on the saddle with a creek.  When we started up the fire, a small lizard ran from under one of the rocks right into the fire.  We thought he was a goner then he ran out the other side.  I know he got hot.  Another beautiful night around the campfire.

We finished Rice Camp Creek with another 1.9 miles down to Jack's River.  Another ford and a 1.8 mile hike past the waterfall to Hickory Ridge Trail and another ford.  The 3.5 mile Hickory Ridge trail is a good climb with rolling hills.  The last section is a little steep climbing back up to East Cowpen.  There would be a lot of good winter views.

We took East Cowpen 2.7 miles back down to SR51.  This is pretty much just old roadbed going down the whole way.  Once on SR51 we had a 2.5 mile road walk to Horseshoe Bend Trail.  We stopped and filled our water at one of the many water crossings.  Once on Horseshoe Bend we hiked 0.9 miles to the second creek crossing at a small campsite along side the creek.

We got up and hiked the other 2 miles of Horseshoe Bend.  There is one section where it splits and you have to look uphill to see the trail sign.  The views off this trail are overgrown but you can see a long ways.  The last part of this trail goes straight down to Jack's River and I mean straight down.  The trail sign is far enough off the Jack's river trail that it would be hard to see if you were trying to find it.  Then we hiked the 3.6 miles and nine river fords back to the car.

We saw a lot of bear sign, but no bear.  We did startle something on Rough Ridge which could of been a bear, but we never got a look at it.  A guy with long gray hair and in camouflage met us at the car.  We didn't know what to expect, but he was a bear hunter and season opens tomorrow.  He had lots of stories to tell, but we had to go get us a greasy burger for lunch.