Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014 was another celebration with family.  We started out with some changes right from the start.  Betty had some medical issues so her, Steve, and Kathy had to cancel their trip to Tennessee. Melissa and Samantha came down with the flu and had to cancel their trip to the Ponderosa. We missed all of them greatly!

We headed over to Mom and Dads' the day before Christmas eve.  Deanna and family came down from Wisconsin to join us that night.  We had a special dinner of Sliders and a Christmas cookie decorating party.  We enjoyed the visit.  The next morning we had a hiking adventure in the neighborhood.  We hiked all the driveways in the neighbor hood to work off the food and get us some aerobics in.

Lora and I headed out after lunch to a Smith family get to gather back on the mountain.  We ate and played games as a group of about thirty.  Afterwards we went over to her parents house to open presents and have an ice cream social.  Two great gatherings.

I worked Christmas day so Lora came over and visited me in Murfreesboro.  I have a great wife for sure!

The next morning we headed back to Mom and Dads' to visit with Lynelle and family in from Virginia.  We had a good lunch, got to plant some trees we brought for Mom and Dad as well as test out some of Gerrett's Christmas presents.  Mom and Lynelle kept watch over the progress. Afterwards we flew into some card games and a mighty fine dinner.  That night as we pulled down the covers on the bed we met,  Ms. Sally O'Mally, An interesting black doll put their by my nephews. The story goes that Deanna opened the bedroom door to find Ms. O'Mally looking her in the eye late in the evening.  It might had been followed by some screaming?

The next morning Lora and I headed back home while the rest of the family headed to Dollywood for some fun times.

The final part of Christmas was the visiting of our grand daughters Samantha and Kaylin. To watch their beautiful eyes light up as they look at the presents under the tree. To hear them read to us from books that we have.  To watch them giggle as we play hide and seek. To be the patients as they use the doctor toys to fix us up.  Life is beautiful through childrens eyes.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Low Gap - Cosby

Day One: 5.4
Low Gap Trail 5.4
Day Two: 10.4
Big Creek 1.0
Camel Gap 4.1
AT 2.4
Low Gap 2.9
Total Miles: 15.8

Lora and I headed out to the Smoky's for my birthday.  We started in Cosby and took the Low Gap trail up across the AT and back down the other side to campsite #37. We met about ten hikers coming down Low Gap, but the only other people we saw were two guys at the campsite.

The weather was great for our steep up and down and the clouds were hanging out at mountain top level. We knew, being a popular campsite, that there would be no fire wood around the camp.  The two guys that were there before us were scampering around picking up anything that looked like wood.  When we picked our spot they were even eyeing up some wood by our fire ring, before I asked if they were taking all of the wood.  After setting up our hammocks, we had to go down the trail a bit before finding anything to burn.

This was Lora's second night of sleeping in a hammock and she is liking it.  We had a good fire to sit around for the evening, but no stars to look at.  It started snowing while we were hanging out, but not enough to get us wet.  Sometime in the night I got up and it was so dark I couldn't see inside my hammock.  Later, I could see the moon behind the clouds.

The next morning we got up and had breakfast around the fire before packing up.  We headed up Big Creek and took Camel Gap trail up to the AT.  Camel Gap is a very beautiful area to hike.  We took our lunch break up on the AT in a sunny spot.  There are lots of views and pine forests in this section.  We hiked by Cosby Knob shelter and then headed back down Low Gap trail which seemed alot steeper on the way down.  The knees said ouch!

It was a beautiful hike a great Birthday present.  Thanks Baby.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Deep Creek in Smoky Mountains

Craig was going on a 5 day backpack with the Outcasts while I had a couple of days off and I got jealous. So I sent out messages to some folks to see who might be crazy enough to backpack in the Smokys in December. Judi answered with a YES. She and Gene were up for it. I got off work at 6:45, went home, slept 2 hours and hit the road to Bryson City, NC. Deep Creek Campground was our meetup spot. Judi and I got our packs on and headed up the Deep Creek Trail. Gene was planning to hike in the next morning to meet us at the second camp spot. Since daylight hours are short this month, we took off at a brisk pace.  We left Deep Creek trail for Indian Creek Trail. Pretty trail following the creek with its cascades. Martins Gap Trail was next with campsite #46 just a little ways in.

The camp sign looked new.  The camp is on a slope but we managed to find a couple of level enough spots to put our tents. We gathered our water and wood and made a good pile for the fire. I was testing a new water filter system on this trip. Craig had bought a gravity bag and wanted to send it with me to test. I was skeptical and at the last minute took it instead of my old familiar one. Only I didn’t pick up the little cover for the end of it. I had to leave the clean hose attached to the filter while gathering water. Since Craig had shortened the hose, it was challenging to hold it and the bag and keep it out of the creek, or off the ground while rolling the top of the bag closed. It worked fine at filtering.

We were just starting our campfire at dusk when we heard voices and horses. Company coming. 2 cowboys rode up to the camp, right up to our fire. Those poor horses can’t read the sign that said “NO HORSES” so they didn’t know not to invade the camp. The cowboys wanted to know what in the world we were doing staying out on this cold night. And where we had started and where we were going. And boy were they loud. When we asked where they were going, we hoped they weren’t planning to  camp here. They were headed back to Deep Creek, and with  loud Yee Haws headed their horses down the trail. They sat there with their buddies for a little while before heading on. We got that fire going great. Plenty of heat. The stars came out and put on a show.

I left the water bag out that night, it still had a lot of water. Since I had to leave the hose on to keep it from all draining out, the hose froze during the night. 22 degrees. Fun stuff. We got our fire going that morning, ate, packed up and started uphill. Always right after you eat. Uphill. Martins Gap to Sunkota Ridge, to Thomas Divide. Once up there it was ridge walking with pretty winter views both ways. We didn’t find any good open spots for pictures of the surrounding mountains. But we did find bear prints in the snow.  We got off the ridge at Deep Low Gap. This trail is a rocky roadbed with lots of downed trees, seeps, water running down the trail. We were glad to see the camp sign. We were also glad to find Gene already there, set up with water and wood gathered. Now that’s a treat. He got Judy a hot drink, collected water for me, and then got supper going. My sweetheart had packed my food for me so I had noodles with meatballs. Tasty stuff. Lots of chocolate for dessert. We had a nice fire, the stars popped out. We were tired and well fed and headed to bed. It wasn’t as cold tonight, but I warmed up my feet and socks before heading into the tent.

Woke up to Gene getting the fire going. Sweet. We ate and packed up. Judi and I headed out while Gene finished packing up. We had a few miles to hike out and I had to work tonight. We hiked Indian Creek Motor Trail, nice roadbed, not rocky, not too steep but all uphill.  Back to Thomas Divide and mostly downhill to the car at Galbraith Road parking lot. This is the southern trailhead for Thomas Divide. Just a little way from Deep Creek Campground. I got a pic of Judi with her 900 miler sticker on her car. I plan to have one of those one of these days. She took me to my car and then back to pick up Gene.

I headed to Bryson City to pick up lunch to go. Back to Tennessee…..not jealous anymore of my sweetheart still out on the trail somewhere.
Beautiful hike with good friends.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Chimneys State Natural Area, Sewanee Natural Bridge, Buggytop Trail

Lora and I headed out for a day of exploring.  We started out at the Chimneys State Natural Area in Marion County, TN.

You drive into the park and there is a circle drive.  From that area you can look across at the chimneys in the Gulf.  There is a unmaintained trail to the right (South) that if you follow the flagging it will bring you to a trail down into the Gulf.  It is about a quarter mile.  There was a old rope there to help you get back up.  We did not go down, but went back to the parking area and then left (North) where there is a steep trail heading down to the base of the overlook area.  From there we explored and crossed a tree laid over the creek to the Chimneys side and went up to the base of the Chimneys.  There is a natural bridge connecting the two Chimneys and a small window through on as well.

From there we headed to Sewanee to check out the Natural Bridge.  This is just off a side road and about fifty yards from the parking area.  There is a small rock house next to it with a spring inside.
Our next stop was Buggytop trail which is part of the the South Cumberland Recreation Area.  It is a two mile trail back to a huge cave.  Buggytop cave has creek flowing through it and goes quite a ways back, but you would have to travel through water to explore it.  There is an overlook above the cave entrance and a trail to two more cave entrances.  One was named Peter Cave.  We did some exploring in and around each of the openings.  It was a great day out and a lot of fun.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Collins Gulf - TN Meetup Hikers

Black Friday is the perfect day to go hiking. Car had gas, didn't even have to shop for that.

Met one hiker at the proposed trailhead. The gate across the road that had a private property sign on it had us turning back. We met the other hikers at the road, studied the map, and drove to the Collins Gulf trailhead in Gruetli Laager. 7 hikers ready for an adventure. Jeff was our fearless leader. GSP in hand, off we went. 

Suter Falls was our first adventure. The icicles hanging from the rock walls were sparkling in the sunshine. The steps were a little tricky but our leader showed us how NOT to take them. Lying on your back is not the best way to descend.....He shook it off and kept on. 

Horse Pound Falls was pretty today, lots of water. Then on down into the Gulf. We crossed the creek at the bottom without any wet feet. We had lunch at the Sawmill camp. We had to get our energy up for the climb out of the Gulf. We saw lots of waterfalls, lots of rocky trail, a boulder field, more rocks, and then a pretty walk on the rim back to the cars. 

Good workout and a beautiful trail with new friends.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Oregon November 2014

Took a trip out to Oregon to meet our new granddaughter.  Had a great time and she spoiled us pretty well.  We got lots of time with Melanie, Jagon, and Marjorie which was as always a blessing. The weather was good.  We had some rain, but we got out and enjoyed some walks.  We also learned some more about city eating trying things that we could not pronounce nor know what it was. We enjoyed a concert in Portland seeing the Trans - Siberian Orchestra's Christmas show.  On the way back they decided to send us through Chicago, which once again proved to be the windy city. We landed about three times as the pilot fought the wind.  Our next flight came in late and after we boarded we saw them pull up with a tire.  They had to change a tire and add more fuel to delay our flight another hour.  When we got to Nashville our luggage was not there.  I have not had that happen for a while, so I guess I was due.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cumberland Mountain TTA Hike

We had five people do a backpack trip on the Cumberland Mountain Segment of the Cumberland trail.  Eric Luncford, Lora McBride, Craig McBride, Marco King, and Pete Broehl.  This was my first backpack with the infamous Santa Claus.

This is a strenuous hike of a special mountain.  It has two rock formations that stick straight up and run on both sides of the mountain for the entire length. They call it the Devil's Race Track. The trail actually spends a lot of time on top of the rocks.  There are lots of views!  There is also Bruce Creek and Bruce Creek Falls on the lower section of the trail.  There is a shelter with a spring to spend the night at.

We started at Eagle Bluff parking at the overnight parking area 0.2 miles down from the overlook. There was a group of four wheeler riders at the overlook when we got there. They were excited to see Santa as well.  We hiked a total 3.6 miles to the Shelter and camping area.  The rock formations are amazing and the trail traverses across some rock areas that are narrow as well.  There is one rock with a hole going through it they call it the window rock.  There are numerous overlooks all along this trail giving you a chance to enjoy the scenery and take in the color changes.

After we got camp set up we hiked another 0.1 miles to the "Rock climb", which is a large stack of rocks you climb a ladder to get on top of, for an evening view of the valley.

We hiked back to camp and had a great evening telling lies around the campfire.  The next morning Marco got a good fire going to warm us up and eat breakfast around.  We headed out for the Bruce Gap trailhead which is 8.9 miles away.  Lots of up and downs along the ridge.  We ate lunch shortly after the short road walk we had.  We enjoyed the overlook for the Devil's race track where someone has put up an American flag and then we started our downhill trek.  At the bottom we enjoyed the walk along Bruce Creek and seeing Bruce Creek Falls.  Then more ups and downs going towards Cove Lake State Park.  We even saw a large black snake for Pete.

Between the weather, scenery, water fall, and snake, I think we covered everything on every one's list on the 12.7 miles we hiked.  We had a great hike with some great people.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fiery Gizzard - Friends of the South Cumberland

The meet up group Friends of the South Cumberland scheduled a hike on a Friday so I signed up.Fiery Gizzard the destination. I got there early and the gate was still locked. The other hikers got there, except for our hike leader. We waited for a while, sent him a text and took off without him. It was chilly so we started out at a fast pace. My short legs were not up for it so I was sweep for most of the day. We stopped here and there to take pics and catch our breath (me). When we got to the rock hopping section I was telling them how I always miss a turn here cause I am always watching my feet and not the blazes. One guy said Oh well I guess that would be easy to do, and proceeded to do exactly that. I looked up in time to see the blaze to the right going down and pointed him in the right direction. 

I remembered to look for the arch as we got close to the top of the ridge. No one had seen it before.

We ate lunch at Raven's Point and then walked to Anderson Falls. Lots of steps down to see the 90 ft waterfall from the bottom.
We went down the Dog Hole Trail to finish the loop. I met some nice folks to hike with, and it was a great day.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

2014 TTA annual meeting at Montgomery Bell State Park

The 2014 annual meeting at Montgomery Bell State Park was another great success.  About 150 people were in attendance. There were lots of hikes planed for all the days.

I arrived late for Dinner, but caught the musical entertainment.  Lora arrived even later.

Live Musical Entertainment: Claudia Nyguaard Singer, songwriter, and storyteller.

Natchez Trace Parkway:

Twelve of us went hiking on the trace.  Amy Sutton and Alice were our fearless leaders.  We started at Hwy 7 and went South.  Our first stop was the Gordon House Historic site where we walked around the house and then hiked down to the Duck river. From there we headed over to the Baker Bluff overlook for a view.  Some of us hiked and the rest drove down to Jackson falls.  Our next stop was the Devil's Backbone State Natural Area.  Here we hiked a three mile trail which included our lunch stop along a nice creek.  After our hike we continued on to Fall Hollow and viewed the many water falls there. Our next stop was Meriwether Lewis monument and visitor center.

We had a great time with some great people and saw lots of stuff.

Back at the park we had a good dinner and then the meeting began.  After the meeting they had the auction and then we were entertained by the Nashville Old Time String Band.

Cub Lake:

Sunday morning I had to go play firefighter and drove to M'Boro in the thick pea soup that covered Hwy 840. Lora stayed so she could hike. She packed up camp and had a quick breakfast at the Inn. Sunday's hike was at Natchez Trace State Park, about an hour drive west from Montgomery Bell. The Cub Lake Trail was the destination. 19 hikers, mostly the Memphis group as this was on their way home. The trail is really pretty even though the State Forest folks have clear cut some of the area along the trail. I don't know why thy can't leave a strip of trees between the trail and where they cut. The leaves were very colorful along the lakeshore. We saw some metal bands by a creek a creek that probably were left by the moonshiners in this area. One of the creek crossings had a nice bridge but one of our more adventurous hikers had to cross on the cables....see pics. After the hike we were driving out of the park and spotted the fire tower. We hoped to climb, but the bottom ladder had been removed, probably to keep curious hikers away. On the drive east, Lora stopped at the Station 3 to visit and had supper with us.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Father / Son Hike 2014

This year we were going to the Old Settlers trail again.  Yes, after a number of cancellations, we were going to do it.  Then the weather set in.  Heavy storm warnings for the second day of our hike.  We made an attempt to reschedule a day earlier, but they could not change our permit.  We headed over early anyway to make last minute changes if necessary.

After the arrival of Steve and Kathy, we started the heavy studying of the weather through several different sources.  We decided to stay with the original plan and do a day hike on Sunday.

Sunday morning we headed out to Tremont and did four miles up the Middle Prong Trail to Indian Flat Falls.  We ate lunch here and then headed back.  We even got to try out the poncho's which really worked well with what was to come. On the hike back I almost put my foot down on a large rattle snake.  Dad had already passed it on the right side of the trail.  I was walking on the left side. As we were driving out we picked up three backpackers from University of Michigan who had been out for their first backpack and had injuries.  We drove them back to their car at Elkmont.  They were happy campers to have a ride, which I am familiar with.

Our backpack started on Monday, leaving a car at the Gabes Mountain trailhead in Cosby, we started in Greenbrier.  We had 6 miles to campsite #33.  We had a doe cross close to the trail and then a buck came onto the trail by Dad and walked towards Steve and I.  The camera went wild only to catch a couple of pictures worth a damn. We passed the only two backpackers that we would see on the trail. It was a beautiful day with chimneys and rock walls to see.  We made it to camp with plenty of time to gather firewood for the evening fire.  There is a chimney in the campsite as well.

Sometime late in the evening the wind gusts began to blow.  Waking up to find the tarp flapping against the hammock a few times.  Sometime in the early morning the rain began.  We ended up eating breakfast under my tarp.  It stopped long enough to get packed up and then rained off and on, with on being more often.  We saw more history all along the trail.  The creek crossing got bigger and bigger.  It stopped long enough for us to have lunch and then cross Webb creek to find the barn.

The biggest crossing was of Indian Camp creek, which had a lot of flow and was deep.  We ended up going about one hundred feet upstream to find a place to cross which was only knee deep.  After crossing that it rained all the way to campsite #34 on Gabes Mountain trail.  This is a really nice campsite along Gabes Creek. We set up the tarp for dinner and drinks in the dark.  Sometime late in the night the rain stopped and the stars came out.  We were done with the rain.

The next morning we hiked out. There were lots of branches and trees down from the wind.  On the way out we saw a sight never seen.  A black cat was leading a couple up the trail.  When we asked the people about it, they said it was not their cat.  They thought it was the campground hosts cat.

With the Old Settlers trail finally done, we celebrated back at the Ponderosa with Pizza and drinks. We got in 22.4 miles.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

AT - Devils Fork Gap to Carvers Gap

Appalachian Trail - Devils Fork Gap to Carvers Gap in six days 67.8 miles.

The trail head was a Stile over a farm fence and just on the other side was an apple tree with ripe apples.  What a way to get going.  Our packs were heavy with eight days worth of food including a foot long Subway hanging on the back of mine for tonight's dinner.

It didn't take long for us to get our rain gear on to start the hike right and off we went.  At 1.8 we were at 4000 feet at Sugarloaf Gap.  Fog had rolled in so no good views.  We hiked to the Hogback Ridge Shelter for the night.  We were thinking about maybe staying in the shelter, but Rare Breed from Louisiana and Mike from Chicago where already there. Rare Breed was a Southbound through hiker, which were just now coming through this area. We set up our tent, ate, and called it a night. 6.1 miles.

Day Two:

We got up to Mike telling us it was morning.  We got on the trail not long after him. Not too far until our first view of the mountains from a vista just off the trail. We went up to High Rock (4,460 ft) for another great view and then caught up to Mike coming out of Sam's Gap.  He hiked with us until lunch time. We climbed up from the trail and found ourselves standing in someones back yard.  As we ate, some bird tagging people came through and said that they would see us up on Big Bald.

After lunch, as usual, we climbed.  Went up to 5,516 feet to Big Bald.  We noticed icicles on the trees.  Lot's of great views from there.  The next hill was Big Stamp where they had nets set up to tag birds.  There was a group up there and they had already caught a few. The nets stay up there and they had had problems with the nets freezing in the closed position. On the way down we passed Bald Mountain Shelter where Mike was planning on staying. Never did see him again.

We hiked on to Whistling Gap to camp for the night.  When we went to the spring, we found it dry so we climbed down a little further, across an old roadbed, and into the Rhododendron to find water. We sat around a fire that night and listened to a Great Horned owl. I talked back to him and got him to come closer, Later that night we woke to a screech owl talking to us.  13.5 miles.

Day Three:

We decided to start the day with a climb as if we didn't every day.  We climbed up to High Rocks at 4,100 feet for a view. There was a car parked at Spivey Gap and we found it to belonged to some trail Maintainers who we met further up the mountain.  The were with the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoe Club and were lopping some branches.

We have seen our first concrete block shelter.  No Business Knob shelter has a concrete foundation and block walls.  Now that took some work!  We ate lunch at the shelter and then headed to Erwin, TN.  You get some good high views of Erwin before you drop the 1500 feet over two and a quarter miles down to the Nolichucky River.  At the bridge we saw a few hikers at Uncle Johnny's Hostel. We continued the 1.2 miles to the Nolichucky Gorge Campground.  Here we were met with some very friendly people.  They even invited us to a potluck Spaghetti dinner that they do every Sunday.
After we showered and put on some fresh clothes, we spent the evening eating and visiting with a group including a great campfire. The campground is under new management which they say the old manager was against thru hikers.  14.7 miles.

Day Four:

The day started with a 2300 foot climb to get started.  We passed a doe that was just staring at us. She just stood there watching us as we went by.  Acorns were like marbles on the trail.  We passed Curley Maple Gap shelter, another block structure.   As we were going down to Indian Grave Gap four backpackers with very large grins on their faces told us that there was a trail angel at the road. We were served sweet tea, banana bread, and brownies.  He also had coffee and an a assortment of fruit. He said that this was his ministry and did it every weekday. It was SOOO good!

As we climbed from the road to the Beauty Spot, the bottom dropped out. The wind was strong and it was pretty miserable out for the climb.  We get a view from the top with the clouds coming over the mountains, but no pics.  You will have to look at our pics from our last visit to this area. We continued on scaring two more deer to Deep Gap for the night. Lora's rain jacket gave up and started leaking. Guess who's going shopping after this trip? We had a good piped spring here.  No fire as the rain continued through the night. Hunters drove the road through the evening and morning hours. 12.1 miles.

Day Five:

Today we started out with a climb.  Unaka Mountain is 5,180 feet. We passed Cherry Gap shelter and climbed Little Bald Knob where we had lunch and dried out our equipment.  We passed some other hikers and headed down to Iron Mountain Gap.  After the gap the rain began again.  We passed through the apple orchard and ate us some apples.  Yummy good!  The wind was crazy strong and we finally found a large rock to take shelter under.

The wind continued all the way to Greasy Creek Gap where we stayed the night. We were out of the strong wind, so we dried all our gear out and had a good campfire.  There was a piped spring for our water.  We heard owls as we went to sleep and then hear the rain all night long again. 12.2 miles.

Day Six:

After treating blisters, Lora was going to call it day today.  We hiked lots of ups and downs today. Roan High Bluff is at 6,200 feet. The closer we got to Roan Mountain the more people we saw.  We stopped on the climb for some lunch. Somewhere on the climb up Roan Mountain a buck passed us on the down hill side.  He was plumb getting it and got a good jump out of us. We had a few good startles from grouse as well.

When we got up to where the old Cloudland Hotel used to stand, we tried to get a phone signal out with no luck. A man came by and told us that the road was closed from Carver's Gap.  He had a book in his car with the phone number to the Mountain Harbour Hostel.  So we hiked down to Carver's Gap and went down the row of cars to find his.  He left the book in the window of his car for us to get the number.  As we were looking another couple asked if we needed anything.  Turns out they were staying at the Roan Mountain State Park and gave us a ride to the hostel.  The Owner of the B&B recognized us from our stay a few years ago. You have to do her breakfast there even if you are not hiking!  As we were signing in, a young man was trying to get a ride back to Uncle Johnny's.  So we shared the shuttle to Uncle Johnny's and then he gave us a ride back to our car at Devils Fork Gap. It is amazing how everything works out.  God is Good! We drove to Hot Springs and had dinner at Still Mountain Restaurant and Pub. Really good food. After dinner we asked the waitress where a good motel was and she said here. Really? yes out back they run the Creekside Court Motel. OK and good for us! 10.4 miles.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pictured Rocks Lakeshore Trail

Lora and I decided to schedule my brother and his wife's vacation this year.  We picked out the Picture Rocks 42 mile Lake Shore Trail as the destination and told my brother to plan it out.  This is also part of the North Country Trail.  Oh yea, we gave them the dates.

We headed up from Murfreesboro on Saturday to their house in Michigan.  We arrived in time for a good dinner and started the packing for the trip.  The laughs started when Kathy pulled out an eye dropper sized bottle for our alcohol for the trip.  Sunday the adventure began as we headed to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan.

We crossed the Mackinaw Bridge in cold rainy weather and had lunch of white fish chowder and artichoke Parmesan spread on chips.  We continued our trip up to Munising.  We had rooms at the Terrace Motel.  After we checked in we went waterfall exploring.  We went to Wagner Falls, Alger Falls, Tannery Falls, and MNA Memorial Falls.  After which we had a great dinner at Sydney's Dinner.  Wonderful food and lots of it!

Back to the Motel for the night.  The next morning we had breakfast at Sydney's which was wonderful.  They had the best Rye toast ever.  We had picked up the permit the night before so we met our shuttle person Thomas, owner of Pictured Rocks Shuttle Service, at the Munising Falls parking lot.  Not only did Thomas pick us up on time, he also gave us four hours of information over the one hour drive to Grand Marais.  He even pointed out the porcupine crossing the road.  This was Lora's first porcupine as there is none down South.

We got on the trail and visited the Sable Falls first.  From there we hiked to the Visitor Center and started our day.  Thomas was supposed to give us a detailed map, but everyone was out of them.  We hiked pasted the Grand Sable Dunes, Log Slide, and camped at the Au Sable East campground.  At the Log Slide we met two other guys that were hiking the full trail.  They were staying one campsite beyond ours except for the last night which they were staying at the same site.  We saw them on and off all during the hike.  At the campsite we found that there are many many chipmunks and they are all people friendly.  You could not chase them out of camp.  There are also a LOT of red squirrels too.

After we set up camp, we decided to hike the half mile down to the Au Sable Lighthouse.  There a a few building on the site and we got to visit with the host that was moving in for a month there.  We found our first snake on the trail there too.  We headed back to the campsite and had a peaceful night. We had put in 9.1 miles.

Day two on the trail:

We headed out and past the lighthouse.  We chose to hike the shipwreck beach instead of the trail so we got pictures of the shipwrecks.  After we got back on the trail, Lora found us some red raspberries and further on some huckleberries.  Then we started our hike on twelve mile beach.  We did a little of it barefoot and this is where we saw our first eagle.  Steve had spotted one on the way to the trailhead, but we all got to see this one.  It was very warm out and we played in the water a few times.  Lake Superior was very calm the entire time we were out.  We passed one barefoot hiker who we scared to death as he was working on a project sitting on the beach.  He had not seen us coming up.  Finally we made it to Pine Bluff Campsite at 11.8 miles for the day.  It is quite a climb up to camp on the dune.  Steve and Kathy did it twice as they went for water as well.

Day Three on the trail:

We finished the twenty mile beach today.  While crossing the Beaver Creek bridge we met our barefoot hiker again, but this time he was in a canoe.  He had stories to tell and told us he was working on a turtle shell rattle when we walked up on him the day before.  Beaver Creek had a great log jam at the end of it which he said was left over from the logging days.  We got up on the bluff walls of lake Superior today where you could really see how clear it was looking down at it.  You could see the bottom way on out.

We got to see Spray Falls which dumped into to the lake and a couple of mile high beaches.  It was different walking out on a sandy beach 200 feet above the lake.  On one of our overlooks I met a man that looked really familiar and Lora started talking to the woman with him.  We met our Tennessee Trail Hiker friends Suva and Bob.  Now that was a surprise to see someone you know many states away on the trail.

We stopped to enjoy the water and wash our hair on Chapel Beach.  We saw Chapel Rock and Grand Portal.  Kathy and Lora saw another snake on the way down to the beach.  When we got to Mosquito campsite we had gotten in 11.5 miles.  The Mosquitoes and Black flies were out today to keep us moving.  More chipmunks!  When we opened the food storage box we found a note which read "Do not use!  There is a mouse nest in here.  The Bastards get in through the handle.  Use the poles. Sincerely the couple who found out the hard way."

Day four on the trail:

We crossed Mosquito Creek and headed to Miners Beach where we enjoyed the lake again.  We passed a truck in the parking area that had a cooler in the back of it.  Obviously, by all the trash around it, the raccoons had made quick work on the cooler.  They would not be happy when they returned.  We saw kayakers and an Amish family out in a canoe.  We also saw a Zach Brown look a like walking the beach with his girlfriend.

We went across Miner's Creek and up to Miners Castle where we saw another Eagle.  We had lunch at the picnic tables here.  This was also the day that Kathy figured out her blisters were from having the wrong pair of hiking boots.  She had grabbed a old pair by accident.  At the end of the hike we went to Munising Falls.  We got in 12 miles today.

A celebration dinner was had back at Sydney's.  We spent the night back at the Motel.

The next morning we headed South to Fayette Historic Townsite.  Named after Fayette Brown, the Jackson Iron Company agent who chose the site.  Fayette was once one of the Upper Peninsula's most productive iron-smelting operations.  Located on the Garden Peninsula at Snail Shell Harbor, Fayette grew up around two furnaces, a large dock and several charcoal kilns after the Civil War.  Nearly five hundred residents lived in and near the town that existed to make pig iron.  They also have great ice cream!

From there we went and set up camp at Indian Lake State Park.  After we got all set up we took a trip to see Kitch-iti-kipi Spring.  It was amazing to see such clear deep water and the largest trout ever! We had dinner across the road at Big Spring Inn.  We headed back to camp for the night.  We enjoyed a campfire and a show put on by a Loon.

The next morning we headed to  Seul Choix Point Lighthouse for a tour. After crossing the bridge we stopped in Mackinaw and toured the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum.  It is still the largest Icebreaker America has ever had.

From Mackinaw we headed back to Grand Rapids and had dinner with Kathy's mom, Betty. As always, we have a great time with her and got to check out her new place.  From here it was the drive back to reality after a great week.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dell Hollow Dam

Lora and I joined Mom and Dad on a campout at Dale Hollow Dam campground.  We got there in time to do some visiting before lunch.  After lunch we walked along the Obey river up to the dam. This was the first time I have ever camped under a dam.  After our walk we got the canoes and were going to float on the Obey river.  We backed down the ramp, Dad got out and Dad disappeared. We found him as usual laying on the ground.  The ramp was a little slippery.  After we got the canoes unstrapped, we hear the warning horns from the dam.  We pulled the car up the ramp to see what the river would do. It rose and it rose and it rose.  I had no idea it would raise about ten feet.  It was even over the fishing dock. If we would have been out on the canoes, we would have to have gotten out down town and got a ride back.  So plan B.  It started raining so we went back to the camper.  It quit later and after dinner we went for another walk.

Later we desided to have a campfire.  We drove up to the office to find out where to get the wood. Dad walked up to the office.  The guy inside closed the door and shut the blinds right there in front of him.  Pretty rude he was.  We had passed some fire wood for sale on the way in so we just drove there and got some. Then we went to the lake to look at the boat ramps there.

The next morning we desided to go to the lake for a canoe trip.  It was safer.  So we put in at the Pleasant Grove Recreation Area.  It is a nice ramp and they have a walking trail that goes around the island and across a suspention bridge.
We paddled for a couple of hours going down Kyle Branch and put in four miles.  On the way back to the ramp it started raining lightly and then quit again.  We headed back to the campground and had lunch then it was time to go.

Another great campout and visit.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Barren Fork - Collins River

Lora and I went to McMinnville to do a little canoe action.  We put in at River Front park on the Barren Fork of the Collins River.  We went West three miles to the island, had lunch, and headed back.  There is a really pretty waterfall and probably another one in wet weather on the North bank.  We saw lots of turtles, geese, ducks, and deer.  Beautiful trip with good water for canoeing or kayaking.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

TTA Rock Creek 2014

After a late night at work, I got up early to hike with my chapter close to home. We met at the Lower Leggett Road trailhead, dropped cars and drove to the Upper Leggett Rd trailhead to start. 14 hikers and one hiking dog. I was carrying my full backpack, training for backpacking season. We got started trying to out hike the heat. It didn't work. It was sticky hot. We had to check out the overlook so we could climb back up. 

Most of us were only hiking 3 miles today but 3 of the guys wanted more so they did the loop back to the upper trailhead. And still beat us to the cars. Most everyone headed out to eat lunch; I headed home for a nap.

Good to see my hiking friends and meet some new ones too. 


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cumberland Mountain State Park

We met Dad and Mom at the Cumberland Mountain State Park in Crossville.  They brought their motor home over and we parked in the campground for an overnighter.  After a good visit we headed over to the boat house to rent some kayaks.  When we got there the boat house was closed so we went to the visitor center and found that the pool and boats were closed due to manpower during the week and where only open on the weekends.  So we headed to the trails.

We walked the Pioneer short and long loops for a five mile hike around Byrd Lake and creek.  We saw lots of varieties and colors of mushrooms and wildflowers. We saw fish, lots of frogs, and one snake. It was warm and quite muggy so we didn't mind when we got a light rain towards the end of the loop.  We headed back to the campground and grilled out some steaks.  It was a nice evening to sit around the campsite visiting.

The next morning, after breakfast, we hiked the 2.1 mile Byrd Creek trail and .5 miles of the Cumberland Plateau nature trail.  Again more flowers and mushrooms with a treat of ripe persimmons.  All the trails were in great condition with lots to see.  We stopped by the park store for an ice cream and after a grilled out lunch we packed up and headed home.

Great weekend!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dale Hollow Lake - Star Point Marina

Lora and I went to Dale Hollow Lake for an overnighter.  We put in at the Star Point Marina on Jouett Creek.  Our reservation was for campsite #29 Jouett Point.  We paddled out following the lake shore out to our campsite.  After setting up camp we headed across the lake going through the gap by County Line Island and headed up the East Fork of Ashburn Creek.  There were lots of boaters and jet skiers out today!  We saw lots of wildlife including deer, turkey, waterfowl, fish, and turtles.

It was a good night sitting around the fire watching the boats go by.  The next morning we woke up to the crows overhead crowing.  We got up and after breakfast we got loaded up knowing that we had until noon before the rain came in.

We headed across Jouett Creek and went up the shoreline exploring up to Muddy Branch.  Then we headed back to the Marina.  We miss calculated by about twenty minutes which yes, we got really really wet!  We made entertainment for all of those boaters at the marina as we paddled by in the downpour.

We got in 10.6 miles the first day taking 3.2 miles to camp.  The second day we got in 6.8 miles.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Dry Branch - TN River

Lora and I headed back to the TN river for a canoe trip.  We put in at Cottonport Road boat ramp off Hwy 30 again.  This time we headed to the TN river and went North a mile to Dry Branch.  It was time for lunch as we entered so we found a tree to hang out under and had our picnic.  A fisherman came by that we talked to and he headed up stream.

After lunch we headed up Dry Branch and ended up at yet another yacht club.  Again there were no boats? We paddled around the lake and then headed up McKinley Branch.  We passed by the fisherman and then the creek opens up to a very large lake.  We spent some time exploring, but never did get it all in.  We got in around five miles.

This is a great place to explore if your out with a kayak or canoe.  We swam in the the main river and headed back to the car.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Cummings Falls / Burgess Falls TTA

I met the Plateau TTA group at Cracker Barrel in Crossville and we carpooled 17 hikers to Cummings Falls State Park. I haven't been there in a while so the area looked a lot different. A huge parking lot has been built plus bathrooms. Signs posted and a decent trail to the creek. There are a couple of ropes in a steep section of the trail. Steps would work better, but we appreciated the ropes. They said last time they were there the water was thigh deep and only 3 hikers could cross so they gave up. Today the water was no more than ankle to knee deep. The falls were beautiful, no swimmers this morning yet. It is a popular place for the locals and college kids.

We departed the park headed for Cookville along the backroads of Tennessee. One missed turn made for a scenic route. We had lunch at Cinco Amigos; good food, and then visited the Railroad Museum. John's birthday gave us a good excuse to visit the ice cream shop across the street. I scream, you scream,......
I had Loaded Butterscotch ice cream and OMG it was good!

On to Burgess Falls. The hike down was not too bad, but the hike back up made me pay for all the calories consumed. I told the Plateau folks they get a lot of hikers for the waterfall hikes, they said they get a lot of hikers for the lunch included hikes. I understand.


More Pics:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Goodfield Creek - TN river

Lora and I did 5.8 miles on Goodfield Creek of the Tennessee River.  We put in at the boat ramp on Cottonport Road off of Hwy 30.  We went under the bridge and looped around the lake counterclockwise. We paddled up Goodfield Creek as far as the water would let us.  While cooling off in the creek a young boy came up on his four wheeler and we talked a bit about his hunting and fishing.  He was trapping Coons, but had a opossum in his trap.

We ate lunch in the creek and then continued back to the lake and finished our loop.  We went back under the bridge and explored the sloughs on the Northern side before going out on the TN river.  We then headed back to car.  There were some young kids jumping off the bridge when we got back to the boat ramp.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Wisconsin 2014

We headed up to Oconomowoc Wisconsin for my nieces' High School graduation party and a family get-to-gather. We got up there Friday night to start with a pizza party and bonfire.  The following day was the graduation party. We got to visit with a lot of family and friends.  She starts Michigan State next month.

The next day, the visiting continued after church and then we headed to Delafield for the Derby Days festival. We watched a parade, enjoyed a couple of different bands preform, and watched some of the frog jumping. We got some card playing in as the "shark" sharpened her skills.

Monday was a hiking day.  The ladies went shopping, except Lora who did some hiking with us in the Kettle Moraine State Forest.  There was a lot of cross country ski trails and we visited the observation tower.  Lots of wildlife and wild flowers.  We climbed the second highest peak in Wisconsin.....Not too high.  Afterwards some of us headed over to see McKinley's horse riding training.

Tuesday we headed we headed out to the Nemahbin lakes area and did some kayaking.  We paddled a few different lakes connected by creeks doing lunch on the shore.  We checked out six different kayaks to get the feel of them. Dad put on a show for us and was surprisingly the only one to flip over.  Mom finished up being towed back to port by Steve.

Steve, Kathy, and Betty left Wednesday.  We had a down day and did a little shopping.

Thursday we attended the Oshkosh Air Show.  We had a great day for it and they had a great show for us. The highlight included the Thunderbird's, and a wing walker who tweeted while on the wing.  Lots and lots of airplanes.

Friday was clean up day and headed down to Golden lake for some swimming and a boat ride.

We managed to get in chicken and sliders and the homemade beef soup traditions.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hunter Bend - Tennessee River

Lora and I went back out Hwy 30 to the bridge over the Tennessee River.  This time we went straight across the river next to where the Old Washington Ferry used to cross and went up the creek next to it.  The old ferry was actually at the ramp which is a bit of history.

There are a couple of unnamed sloughs here, but they have also put a gravel road in which cut's you off from paddling the sloughs.  So we did all the exploring we could and had lunch there.  While we were eating, we got to see a gray fox swim across the creek just down from us.  Lora also got to see the biggest snapping turtle she has ever seen, which of course came with a scream as it was by her paddle.

From there we went East on the TN river to Clear Creek and paddled up it.  It does a complete circle around a cow pasture and then opens up to a small lake.  We got to see a four point buck in velvet and Lora got to see, with another scream, a snake while she took a potty break.

We did not get to finish the East side of the split as we needed to head back.  We stopped for a swim on the way back to the car and we also got to see a raccoon climbing the bank along the way. We also got to see a flock of turkeys in a field.  Lots and lots of ducks, geese, and water birds.

We got another 8 miles in.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Armes Gap trail - Frozen Head State Park

I kind of invited myself on a hike with Pete, Lillian and Hix at Frozen Head State Park. I met up with them at the old Brushy Mountain State Prison and followed them up the mountain road to the Armes Gap trailhead. The 4 of us started climbing the old jeep road and took a spur trail on the left to the old prison mine. There are some small buildings still standing, the guard shack has a fence around it. The mine openings are gated. Very cool area to explore. Lillian told us about the history of the mines and how Brushy Mt Prison came to be built.

Back on the jeep road we kept climbing. A pickup truck came up behind us, it was a park Ranger. He didn't offer us a ride, just kept going. Before we got to the top of the mountain, he came back down and stopped to chat. He told us he had spotted a Canada Lily on the jeep road and gave us directions on where to find it. Lillian asked him about the old mining area and if they were going to include it as part of the history when they open the prison as a visitor center and museum. He agreed that it was a good idea. He gave us some info about an old home site on Hwy 62 that may be preserved by the Historical Society of Morgan County. He said good bye and we kept climbing.

When we got to Tub Spring we looked at all the trail junctions and decided to stay on the jeep road. We found one Canada Lily growing right by the side of the road just a little past all the junctions. We walked until it was lunch time and that was at the Coffin Spring trail junction. It looked overgrown, must not get much foot traffic. After lunch we started back the way we came. We took another short spur down to the Panther Branch Rockhouse. Heading back down the jeep road we found a lot of blackberries; that held us up for a while. Back at the trailhead, plans we made to meet up at Sonic in Wartburg. Turtle pecan Master Blast....yum!

After saying goodbye to everyone, I went back to the park and waded in the creek for a little while to cool off and get the dust off my feet. It was a beautiful day with 75 degrees for the high; a cool breeze, and good friends to hike with.


Pete's Pictures:

Sunday, July 6, 2014

2014 4th of July Trip

Lora and I headed out to do some trails on her to do list.  It was a great few days that we got to spend with Dad and Mom as well as celebrate our United States Independence.  Of the 150 trails in the Smoky Mountain National Park, Lora had 67 more trails to hike.  After our three days out her new number is 71     trails to hike.  Doesn't add up very well, but you will see why.

We started out at the Sugarlands visitor center.  We hiked the Old Sugarlands trail from the Headquarters building out to Bull Head trail.  After we got going we found the Two Mile Lead trail.  After we hiked to the Bull Head trail we headed down the Two Mile Branch trail which is also not on the map.  We took it to the Grassy Branch trail , which is not on the map, back to the Two Mile Lead trail.  So we completed one of her trail and added three.

After we got off the trail we called Dad and Mom who were working the Patriot Festival in Pigeon Forge. We got to Pigeon Forge Patriot park in time to catch the last three bands playing.  We got us some dinner and were extremely upset to find that there were no cotton candy vendors anywhere.  Anyway the concert was great and there ended up being around 60,000 people there.  The main band was Lonestar and towards the end of their concert we could see Dollywood's fireworks going off.  After the concert, Pigeon Forge put on their fireworks display with music to accompany it.  It was amazing to hear 60,000 people singing America the Beautiful at the same time.

With every large gathering, the exit took quite some time.  We wondered around for a while and then walked up to Dad and Mom's car which was still sitting in line in the parking lot that they started at.  We visited a bit longer until the traffic started moving.

Day two, we got up and took Dad with us.  We dropped off a car at Greenbrier at the Grape Yard Ridge trailhead.  Then we headed to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature trail for the other end of the trail.  We did some exploring of the local neighborhood, before finding the wrong end of the one way nature trail.  We then found the right road and followed the many many cars heading around the loop and squeezing between parked cars to the trail head.

We hiked a couple of miles and stopped for lunch.  Mom had made us some mighty fancy trail sandwiches which were really good.  We met up with some hikers looking for the locomotive parts just up from Campsite #32.  We showed them on the map that they were at the wrong point.  We went to check out the campsite and the others followed us and then kept going down the trail.  Well we followed them looking and not finding the same site.  When we got to the end of the trail we were at the wrong trailhead.  We had taken the Injun Creek trail, which is not on the map, and ended up at the ranger station in Greebrier.  So between the three of us experienced? hikers, none of us had read the signs at campsite #32.  We had to hike the two miles of road to the car.  Dad showed us where the Rhododendron Creek trail was which also, not on the map, goes up to the Grape Yard Ridge trail.  Thus, we had completed one half of a trail and added two more to her list.

Day three, after church, we headed to the Top Of the World and the Gold Mine trail.  This was Mom's hike and another trail.  We hiked down to the Cooper Road trail and took the Cane Creek trail.  This finished Lora's Cane Creek and we didn't add any trails this time.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Trail Maintenance N. Chickamaga Segment

Lora went back out to the North Chickamaga segment of the Cumberland trail to help with more trail building.  They are still planning on opening it back up on schedule, but did not accomplish all they had hoped to do.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Washington Creek - Tennessee River

Lora and I headed out Hwy 30 to the Tennessee River.  We put in at the boat ramp on the South side of the TN river at the Hwy 30 bridge.  This is where the old Washington Ferry used to cross.  We checked out the North side, but it looks more like private property.

When we put in, we found the redneck catfish business running full speed.  They had two boats with tanks and a pickup with tanks.  We got in their way as they were trying to load their boats on the trailers to pull up and transfer fish to the pickup and then redeploy their boats.  They don't know how to speak as everything came out yelling.  We did a rapid deployment of the canoe.

Anyways, we headed to the North side of the river and West to get into the Washington Creek Slough. Once on the creek we had everything to ourselves.  We paddled a counterclockwise loop around the sloughs.  There are a couple of good size lakes up in there.  We went up each creek as far as we could go. Washington creek was good and deep and the water was an aqua blue.  We saw lots of deer, fish, turtles, and birds.

About time we got finished the thunder clouds moved in and we headed back.  We did not get a chance to finish the last inlet.  There was a very nice family group swimming at the boat ramp when we got back.  After we got loaded up, we took a nice swim with them.

On the way back we stopped at the Yuchee Wildlife Refuge off of Bogles Chapel road.  Here we checked out the boat ramp, viewing platform, picked some blackberries, and saw a young fawn.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rock Creek Paddle

Lora and I had a couple of hours so we headed down to Patterson Road in Sale Creek to put in.  We took the canoe up rock creek to where you can't go any further.  Then we got out and walked a little ways to see if it widened up again.  We did a find a good swimming hole that I could not resist.  We walked back to the canoe and then headed home after lunch on board.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Melissa's Wedding

We got the privilege of attending my daughter's wedding Saturday.  We traveled to Knoxville, TN where the ceremony took place.  After the ceremony we headed off to Olive Garden to have a good meal, fellowship, and have wedding cake.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Judd Slough - Hiwassee River

Lora and I headed back out to the Hiwassee River.  We went back and put in at the boat ramp on Hwy 58. We paddled across the lake to the Agency Creek Recreation Area and went in Judd slough.  There a lots of houses in here, but some pretty natural areas as well.  We took the creeks up as far as we could go.  The one on the right goes back past some houses and then opens back up to a small lake with houses.

When we came back out of the slough we headed East on the Hiwassee river and went in the next small slough.  Then we crossed the Hiwassee and headed back along the islands.  We got in 6.8 miles.  It was super hot so we had lots and lots of swim breaks.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

TTA Long Hunter Day Loop

Craig McBride, Sara Pollard, Roy Duncan, Rebekah Norman, Jennifer Zahn, and Hilda Vaughn did the 4 mile Long Hunter Day Loop.  They have put up a new Kiosk and now have a new trailhead.

We enjoyed the beautiful sights and sounds of nature.  There were a lot of people out hiking and trail running this morning.  We took a snack break at the point with the bench and Roy filled us in with some great information of the Percy Priest Lake.  There were lots of boats out and many were heading to the party cove.
We got to see a rat snake which remained calm until the dog wanted to check it out.  Then the snake said to leave him alone.  It was a beautiful day and we had a lot of good fellowship.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

TTA Float - TN River Gorge

We got to participate in a river trip with the Murfreesboro and Highland Rim Chapters of the TTA.  The CTC Volunteers also joined in for the fun.  Don Deakins, Jan Agee, Brandy Selman, Denise Shepard, Judy Varner, Bob DeHart, Ava Navin, Renee Grace, Tim Grace, Sara Pollard, Craig and Lora McBride, Joan and Tom Hartvigsen, Cynthia, Cindy Watson, Gary Kimbrell.

15 Kayaks and one canoe headed out from the Suck Creek road boat ramp heading nine miles for the Raccoon Mt. boat ramp.  The weather was great, but the wind became a good challenge as progressed down the river. We did a lunch break at Pot's Point where we got to meet a Marion County Sheriff who was notifying us that this was private property.  He was there about a complaint on a car parked in the road.

After we got all the boats out of the river, Lora and I loaded up the canoe and spent the night on the river side.  We camped across and down the lake from the Raccoon Mt. boat ramp.  We had a quiet night seeing lots of different birds, a deer, and a River Otter.  That night we got to listen to some very very loud bull frogs and an owl in the distance.

The next morning we got up and enjoyed breakfast until we heard thunder.  We packed up camp and made it in the canoe before the bottom dropped out.  We held out under a tree until it lightened up and then made a mad paddle for the ramp.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

TTA Roaring Creek

National Trails Day, lets go hiking!

I joined the Soddy Daisy group today led by Bob McGavock and his swing sickle. I met them at the Roaring Creek trailhead. We got an early start trying to beat the heat. 7 hikers and Violet the Great Dane. 

The humidity was waiting for us on the climb to the ridge top. The view from the bluff was beautiful as always. We found a few wildflowers and a few ticks along the way. Bob stayed behind at the meadow to do some trail clearing with his swing sickle. The trail was looking good; the Breakaway kids did a great job this year. Across the creek the trail had been cleared to get to the section that had built on that side. It continues for about a mile where you find the End Of Trail sign. You can see the flagging continues into the woods. Ready for more trail builders to come out and play. We headed back to the creek for lunch. George had some jelly biscuits that were really good. I think Violet thought so too. 

As we headed back toward the meadow, Bob was hiking to meet us. We walked back enjoying the overlook and the view into Cranmore Cove, and toward the distant mountains. You could see Watts Bar's towers, and the ones at Sequoia. We didn't see the goat, I haven't seen it yet. Maybe next trip. We did see two families hiking today as we hiked out. We wished them a Happy National Trails Day.
 When we got back to the parking lot, my thermometer read 87 degrees. We should have jumped in the creek!

Good hike with great people.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Cumberland Trail North Chick Maintenance

Lora and I joined the State Parks working on the North Chicamauga Segment of the Cumberland Trail.
They were working on the beginning of the trail and clearing a way for trucks to get down to the creek for personnel rescue. Mainly we were removing large boulders.  Lots of good hard work with some great people.

After working we hiked down to the "Blue Hole" for some swimming.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sequatchie River / Hiwassee River - Agency Creek

Lora and I headed out to canoe the Sequatchie River.  We went to Hwy 30 and searched for the boat ramp. There is no sign and the road is just before the bridge on the Southeast side.  They do have a gravel parking area under the bridge and a good ramp.  Unfortunately, we found out that the river is blocked by many large downed trees.  We headed North first and then tried South, getting blocked in either direction.  We loaded back up and then headed to the Hiwassee River.  We had not explored the Agency Creek area so we picked that area.

There is a private boat ramp / marina just North of the first campground on the North side of the Hwy 58 bridge.  It cost you $3 to use the ramp.  We did a clockwise loop from here covering the whole creek area about 4.25 miles.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Forney Creek

Day One: 7.9
Forney Ridge Trail 0.5
Forney Creek Trail 7.4

Day Two: 10.8
Jonas Creek 4.1
Welch Ridge 2.4
AT 3.8
Forney Ridge 0.5

Total Miles: 18.7

Lora and I headed out to Clingmans Dome for an overnighter.  As always the Dome's parking lot was full of cars and people.  We started down Forney Ridge and got rid of all the people when we hit Forney Creek. We saw one couple on this trail.  Forney Creek is a steep down hill with lots of beauty.  We experienced Spring again as we went down the trail.  Early Spring flowers at the top and late Spring flowers on the bottom.  There is some good creek crossings which the last three were waders.  There were a couple of guys at campsite #69 and a group of high school students from Wisconsin at campsite #70 where we stayed.

We listened to the owls talking as we sat by the campfire.  The guy from #69 had talked to some through hikers the night before and they had been in half inch hail two days ago and snow the day before.  It was really nice weather for us.

We got up the next morning and hiked Jonas Creek trail up to Welch Ridge.  We walked the first half in Crocks for the water crossings.  The second half switches back and forth up the mountain.  Lora did a spectacular fall on the way.  She made it across all the creeks and a huge tree across the trail only to fall over a small rock and into the mud.  She got some bruises from that.

We stopped along Welch Ridge for lunch and then continued the climb to the AT.  There was lots of bear sign on Welch Ridge.  We saw are first person of course on the AT.  You never the hike the AT by yourself and we passed lots of people on the way to Clingmans Dome.

We felt that we have not climbed a mountain in a while as our baby cows got a good workout!


Saturday, May 17, 2014

TTA Piney River

On a cloudy Saturday that threatened rain, 5 intrepid TTA hikers set out on a trek of the Piney River Section of the Cumberland Trail, near Spring City, TN.  We left a car at the picnic area on Shut-In Gap Rd. where we would come off the trail and drove up the mountain to the Newby Branch Trailhead where we began.  The trail  passes through dense mountain laurel, rhododendron, hemlock and hardwood forest.  The first scenic landmark we encountered was White Pine Cascades, (where there are no White Pines), a beautiful multilayered cascade that was in full glory.  We passed quite a few spur trails leading to rockhouses, picnic/camping areas and other waterfalls but did not choose to take them at this time.  We crossed Deep Pool Bridge, Rockhouse Branch Bridge, Pine Branch Bridge and the amazing Piney River 100 ft. suspension bridge.  These bridges were constructed by the Bowater Paper Company when the land was owned by them.  Our last landmark/obstacle before trail's end was MacDonald Branch, a boulder scramble across a wide drainage.  It was a little late in the season for wildflowers but we did see bluets, wild geranium, laurel, skullcap, hearts-a-bustin', spicebush, rattlesnake weed, stonecrop, partridge berry, milkweed, and one very frequent mystery flower.  And it didn't rain!


Friday, May 16, 2014

Little Cedar Mountain and Dunlap Coke Ovens

Lora and I headed out for Little Cedar Mountain to do some hiking.  We had heard about it from Tony who had done trail work on it.  There is four miles of trail according to their map which if you do the pond trail you get five as an out and back.  The trails of course are in great condition after just being worked on.  The trails take you through good rock formations, good views, and along the lake.  Great hike.

After the hike we checked out Marion County Park on the lake and then went to see the Nickajack Dam where we got to watch a tug boat change out barges.

From there we stopped in Dunlap on the way home to see the Coke Ovens.  The museum was not open, but since they were working on the grounds, they let us in.  Really nice people.  The park is run on donations only and staffed by volunteers.  We enjoyed the museum and then walked around the grounds seeing the ovens.  We want to go back and do some more exploring in the area to see more of the historic sites up the side of the mountain.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Crusher Hole and Fall Creek Falls

Lora spent the day out at Fall Creek Falls State Park.  She did the falls trail and the Crusher Hole.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hiwassee River - Flag Pond Slough

Lora and I have been busy with lots of stuff going on.  We did get out and do a short wildflower hike a couple of weeks ago and got the canoe out for the first time last weekend for a couple of hours.  We had a week of Grandbabies which was sweet.  We got spring planting done as well.

Well, we got a day off with beautiful weather so we loaded up the canoe and headed out.  We went to the Hiwassee river and put in at the boat ramp on Hwy 58.

As I back the trailer down the boat ramp, there was an elderly man walking down the ramp.  When I got out and spoke to him, he asked if there was a charge for water.  I told him no that the water is free.  He was carrying a kerosene tank with him.  Well, I started unfastening the canoe and a man coming down the boat dock said "hold on, I am coming"  I looked over and the old man was bent down trying to fill his container. The water at the end of the ramp was too shallow to put his container in and the man could not get back up once he had squatted down.  I was tore up for not watching this man or paying attention to him.  The other guy got him back up and I filled his container off the back of my trailer then took it back up to the parking area where the old mans van was parked.  I had driven around it on the way in and never put the two together.  His van had overheated.  Well we got his van filled back up with water and started for him and sent him off with a prayer.  I am so glad he did not fall in the water while I was not watching.

I joined back up with Lora, who had spent this time visiting with the other guys wife on the dock.  We pushed off and followed the coast line East.  We got to see lots of deer, water fowl, fish, and turtles.  We went as far as Flag Pond Slough which is under the bridge on Hwy 306.  We had lunch on the point before Flag Pond.  Then we paddled out and followed the island side back to the ramp which is about 7 miles. Another beautiful day on the lake.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Ladies Spring Backpack 2014

Once again Diane inspired another backpack in the Smokys. She, Nancy and Judy planned the trails to take, Nancy made all the reservations.They, Amy and I met up at Cades Cove to start our trip. Judy's husband Gene brought her to the park, he loaded up all our packs and delivered them to the Anthony Creek trailhead while we walked from the Stable parking area. He is such a gentleman.  He wished us happy trails and off we went. 

The weather outlook for the day wasn't very good; possible high winds and rain thru the afternoon and night. Not too far into the hike, the ponchos were deployed and down came the rain, sprinkles and mist. It's good for the wildflowers and we got to see some on the lower sections of trail.Spring Beauties, Trout lily, Hepatica, vinca, Rue anemones, violets, and wood betony. 

We hiked into a cloud of fog at Spence Field. The shelter was getting crowded, with 4 thru hikers and 2 other backpackers. 5 of us. The shelter sleeps 12. Judy had brought treats for the thru hikers, a little trail magic. We set up for the night, I walked back up the hill and got a cell signal to call Craig and let him know we made it here. Back at the shelter we were trying to decide when to eat, it was still early but rainy and wet outside, not much room to move around inside. We sat out around the cooking area with the thru hikers and had good conversations, enjoyed talking with the blue collar Kansas guy; he came from a farming family, and had a little white lightning in his family history. We have a lot in common. We climbed into our bags to get warm. Nancy got a rousing game of dots going with 2 of the NBers. We had 2 more hikers come in around 9 and asked to squeeze in, they had reservations too and couldn't understand why it was so crowded. Welcome to thru hiker season in the Smoky's. I got up in the night to visit a tree and it was so foggy, I barely found my way back to the shelter. The reflective hiking poles outside the shelter really helped.

Day 2
We packed up and started up Spence Field in a cloud. We were looking for Stinkin Jenkins, aka Jenkins Ridge Trail. Someone had done some great trail work, this trail isn't very popular and is usually overgrown in places with briers and brambles. It looked good today. Nice work! We could see ice on the timber on the ridges around us. and then on the ridge we were hiking. Steep downhill hike. Diane stirred up some turkeys, she counted 8, I saw one of them. Judy saw a grouse. We saw flowers, trailing arbutus and pussy toes. Good brakes kept us upright on the trail, oops except for Judy. She had an adventure trying to tumble down the hill. We reached the junction with Hazel Creek and set up camp at 84. We found a cool pair of sunglasses, a nice water shoe, a bandanna and a sock. We collected firewood to last thru the evening. Then every one abandoned the fire one by one and left me to watch for the stars. 

Day 3
Nancy, Diane and I set out for the Bone Valley Trail. Amy and Judy had already hiked this one and decided on a leisurely morning of fire watching and laundry. Diane had hiked it twice before but graciously hiked it again for us. We had to cross Hazel Creek 4 times. The water was refreshingly bone chilling COLD. Just like in January. And July. The little brown book describes the crossings as knee deep in normal conditions. It had rained 2 days ago and I don't know how tall the writer of the trail description was but he wasn't 5'1 and 1/2. Four crossings plus Mill Creek which was only ankle deep. At the trail's end is Hall Cabin, the most remote historic structure in the park. The Kress family built a mansion here, the foundation and chimney are still here. It was a base camp for wealthy sportsmen who fished the creek for rainbow trout. 

We hiked back to camp and ate lunch by the campfire that Amy and Judy were lounging by. Packed up and headed to the Lakeshore trail to camp at 86, the Proctor site. We were setting up camp and a next door camper came by to say hi and offer his luxury camp to us for the night. Steve is a fishing outfitter and had set up 5 tents with cots that have memory foam mattresses and he wouldn't have guests until tomorrow and feel free to enjoy the luxury for the night. We checked out his camp. Nice digs. I walked to the lake shore, two kayakers had come in and Steve was transporting stuff from his boat to the camp from there also. The kayakers wanted to know where to get a wheeled cart to haul their stuff. I told them about Steve's camp. They found a cart there. I got back to camp and Steve had served the ladies apple turnovers and they saved one for me. Nice. I sat in the sand by the creek and dipped my bare feet in the cool water. I noticed little blue butterflies, the ones you see on horse manure and poop. And some pretty yellow butterflies.....they were feasting on my boots and socks. Surely my boots don't smell THAT bad! Back at camp, Amy had packed up and moved next door, then  Nancy packed up and joined Amy in the Taj Mahal of tents. They did join us for dinner and built the campfire. Some of us stayed up late enough for the stars to come out. Amy and I stayed up a little later and a big noise by the creek got our attention in a hurry. We both thought bear, but no other noise and our headlamps searching eased our minds a little. Amy went to bed and I stayed out listening to the night sounds of the creek for a while. Just after I turned in, the coyotes started singing. Wow they were close. After much prayer I went to sleep too.....

Day 4 
After a good breakfast of gravy, biscuits, and venison sausage (my breakfast) Steve came in with a group of folks. He also brought coffee and crumbcake. Then we started uphill on the Lakeshore Trail. Always uphill after breakfast. We tried for phone signals on the top of this first ridge. I had no luck, maybe Judy did. Simple phone, yes, Smartphone, Nope. Onward and upward. This section of Lakeshore has a lot of homesites with old rusty cars and parts of cars. There are good views of Fontana Lake on this trail. We hiked to the Eagle Creek Junction and headed toward the creek. We got to the first crossing and sat down for lunch. Diane walked into the creek to see how deep it was, got out and pulled out the map to check out other options in case we changed our minds. Each one of us put on our water shoes and they decided I was the shortest, I could check it out. I got in and it was up to my thighs and I wasn't in the deep part yet. The water was moving swift and I didn't like the was it was talking to me. I shook my head and heard the creek laugh at me. 
It sang Fe Fie Fo Fumb, I smell the blood of hikers dumb. 
If you dare to wet your feet, it's not my fault if your pack I eat. 
You're not the first to try your luck 
If you can't swim, you'll be sunk. Bah ha ha ha ha!!!!!!
Not today Eagle Creek, we will toast you with the Butterscotch Schnapps and come back another day. 

Back down the trail to Lakeshore Trail and on toward Fontana Dam. We saw a lot more wildflowers today on the ridges around the lake. Lots of trilliums and violets. We stopped to get more water. Everyone was out at the same time. As we got close to the dam, we met  hikers looking for wildflowers. We hiked across the dam and used the phone to try to get a shuttle back to Cades Cove. Gene was our shuttle. He shared a lot of history with us, as he had grown up on Hazel Creek. He said as a boy, he dug night crawlers and worms for the fisherman at the Kress Sportsmans House for $3 dollars a day. He is in his 80's now so $3 a day when he was a boy was a lot of money. He wanted some more today, @ $25 dollars  per hiker for the shuttle. I guess with the park history and info on where to dig ramps and how to cook them and for the adventure of the drive across the Dragon Tail, the Foothills Parkway and into Cades Cove defying the speed limit to get us back there before dark, it was worth it. 

Our hike was shortened by a day but it was a great spring backpack once again. 
Thanks Diane, Nancy, Amy and Judy!


Diane Pictures: