Monday, January 20, 2014

CT Volunteer Hike - Rock Creek Segment

Lora McBride, Bob DeHart, TC Varner, Judy Varner, Shauna Wilson, Larry Hill, Caroline Woerner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins made a hike we have done many times before but it never gets old, Rock Creek. We met at Upper Leggett Road Trailhead, then shuttled over to Retro Hughes Road Trailhead where hike began. After 5.4 miles at a casual pace, we were back at Upper Leggett Road Trailhead and discussing what might be next.

Bob's Pictures:

Don's Pictures: 

Obed Segment CT - Daddys Creek

Day One: 7.1
Day Two: 7.1
Total Miles: 14.2

Well we finally got a chance to go back to the Obed Segment of the Cumberland Trail to finish this segment. We started at Daddy's Creek or Devils Breakfast Table trailhead and headed East to camp at the same spot we camped a few years ago coming in from the other side.

When we got to the parking area, we found it full of kayakers which was surprising because it was so cold. We finally got some good documentation on miles between points at the Kiosk.  No maps have all the labels nor the miles written on them which we have been disappointed with.
The trail goes through the Daddys Creek Gorge along the bluff walls and then rises on top for some beautiful overlooks.  The rock formations are wonderful all through this hike.  You drop back down into the Obed Gorge and follow an old train rail bed along the river.  You go up Turkey Creek gorge where you find the beautiful Bills Falls at the second bridge.  The limbs are over grown in front of the falls and I had to get Lora to hold some down while I took a picture of the falls.  You continue along the Obed river and there is some flat areas that show no signs of camping that are marked "camp" on one map.  From there you climb back out of the gorge at Anvil Rock and continue along the edge of the gorge.  We stopped at a no name creek that we camped at before between the Obed Overlook and the Omigod Overlook at 7.1 miles.

Just as when we hiked the other side, you have to really look for the trail markers so you stay on the trail.  We removed numerous trees, branches, and broke limbs to clear the trail as we hiked.  This is a very beautiful trail that really needs hikers on it to keep it maintained.  There is a lot of chainsaw work and lopper work to be done.  I could not talk Lora into carrying either tool for some reason.  Just before we got to our camping spot we saw new trail markers.  Hopefully the other side has been cleared as well as marked since we hiked it.

We did have some slick areas where the icicles had been melting and refreezing on the ground.  On the way out we passed a couple that was day hiking.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

TTA - John Litton to Leatherwood Ford

Upper Cumberland scheduled a hike in Big South Fork, I signed up, Craig was working (somebody has to). I met the others in Clarkrange. We drove to Leatherwood Ford and left a car, then drove to the Bandy Creek Visitor Center and chatted with the Ranger. I asked about trail extensions toward Honey Creek and he reported the trail work had started and was flagged for a way. It will be great to have the O&W area connected to Honey Creek. Future plans hopefully will include connecting the Sheltowee Trace with the Cumberland Trail either in Wartbug or Frozen Head. How exciting!

We started the John Litton Farm Loop at the trailhead by the swimming pool. In the parking lot we talked with Steve Barbour Director of the Sheltowee Trace Association. He was waiting for a group of backpackers to come down the trail (about 20 of them). I mentioned Craig and the Outcasts and he said Yes I know the Outcasts, tell them I said Hi.

We got started and as always in BSF the trail was beautiful. There was a lot of ice left from the cold weather earlier in the week. Lots of icicles hanging from the rocks and bluff walls especially along the creek, and they were melting. Watch out! Lots had already crashed along the trail. The ladders weren't icy, just wet. We saw a few trees that had been chewed on by beaver. After a few miles we started meeting the STA backpackers. Lots of nice folks, a few kids among the adults. We knew the one bringing up the tailend, Curt, and stopped to chat with him. We hiked our way up to the top of the bluff on the Grand Loop trail. We stopped at the overlook where Craig and I got married and Gary took my picture and I said "I still do"  The wind had picked up and when we got to our lunch spot, Angel Falls Overlook, we had to brace ourselves against the wind and gusts, and try to keep our lunch from blowing away. Richard had baked some awesome persimmon walnut bread and shared it with us. Yummy. The views of the Cumberland River from here are beautiful.

We headed back to the trail junction and started down along the bluff heading back toward the river. Another ladder and some icy rocks made it a little challenging. Gary watched to make sure we got past the challenging section, I went on down the trail and across the creek on the bridge. I saw Gary coming down the ridge and kept thinking he would catch up to me, I take two steps for each one of his. Next thing I knew there was Gary ahead of me taking to Richard and I said "what did you get in front of me?" He said he can fly. He must have crashed cause he was a little muddy. He had crossed the creek on a log and scooted his way across. The log was slicker than he thought. Anyway we got to the Leatherwood Ford crossing and the hiker bridge was closed for repairs, part of it had washed away. We hiked up to the road, crossed the bridge and back to the parking lot.

Another great BSF hike and good friends to hike with. Thanks Richard, Gary, Pete and Cathy.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

AT - Max Patch to Devil Fork Gap

Day One: 7.5 Miles

We met Dad and Mom in Knoxville and headed to Devil Fork Gap to drop off our car.  We dropped off the car and then headed back to Max Patch Road to drop us off at the trailhead there.  We got on the trail at 2:00 pm.

Our first people were at Max Patch 0.8 mile down the trail.  We met a lady hiker that is with the Nashville Meet Up Group who was up here celebrating her parents 50th anniversary with family from all over.  That was one of many, many day hikers up on the Bald.  We went over the bald and met a rabbit hunter in the woods.  They had gotten six rabbits so far that day.  After leaving him, it started sprinkling on us and we ended up hiking in rain gear.  The wind started blowing and we were thinking that we didn't really want to spend the night on top of a mountain in this weather.  By the time we got to the Walnut Mountain Shelter, the wind was about blowing us off the trail.

There was a couple of folks standing by the fire in front of the shelter and when we peeked inside there were eight beady eyes looking back at us.  There were two tents set up out back of the shelter.  We were invited to stand next to the fire to warm up or I guess get whatever heat you could in this wind.  We looked around and then down the side of the mountain at a flat spot by the spring.  It did not take us long to make up our mind and get out of the wind.  We set up our tent by the spring.  It was still raining and we could hear the wind howling over the mountain above our heads.  We ended up cooking and eating in the tent that night.

Day Two:  13.1 Miles

The wind had stopped and the rain was mostly over with lots dropping off the trees when we got up.  We ate breakfast in the tent and then packed up.  When we got up to the shelter, the guys were up and wet.  They said that the rain blew right into the shelter and through the sides.  They said that we were the smart ones, which came as no big surprise to us:)  They were going to Hot Springs.  They were planning on staying another night at Deer Park Mt. Shelter, but were just going to hike out with wet gear.

We stopped at Garenflo Gap for lunch and to dry equipment out.  As we were packing back up a group of Boy Scouts went by.  Later, we would find out that this was the same group that we met last night.  We visited with them numerous times as we leap frogged them on the trail.

As the day continued the sky cleared up and we had some better views.  Before long we were viewing Hot Springs from above.  We hiked into town, checking out the hiker's hostels.  We stopped at the Smoky Mountain Diner to find that they close at 4 pm on Sunday.  They we're very friendly and stayed open for us as it was 4 now.  We had the Hungry Hiker burgers and they were great!  We visited with one of the owners ,Genia, who has section hiked 800 miles of the AT.

After dinner we went down to the Hot Springs Resort and Spa to get a campsite.  We stopped at the store and they sent us across the street to the Spa where we saw our Boy Scouts again.  They were going in for a soak.  We got our site and then hiked back over to the campground.  We bought fire wood from the store and enjoyed the night.  The only draw back of the campground is the train that goes right by it.  Luckily for us we only got woke up one time through the night.

Day Three:  12.5 Miles

It had sprinkled through the night, so we had a wet tent again.  We got up, ate, and started hiking.  We crossed the French Broad river and then hiked along side it.  The trail turns and you get to climb a steep 1500 ft climb which has a lot of overlooks.  We managed to hike up into the clouds which lasted the rest of the day.  No views for us!  We knew we were in some beautiful area's too.  

At Pump Gap there is a concrete dam holding back a small pond.  There are benches around the pond area and some fields on the other side.  This is the Mill Ridge Wildlife Management Area.  Then you hike the gravel road before you hike the bridge over 70.  We stopped on this climb for lunch and Lora surprised me with a burrito.  It sure was good!  A couple hiked passed us while we were eating.  We saw them again as they were coming down from the tower on Rich Mountain.  We didn't bother to go to the tower as we were still in the clouds.  It was cool seeing all the trees covered with ice as we climbed and descended the mountains.

We stopped by the Spring Mountain shelter and decided to continue to Deep Gap for the night.  There is a blue blazed trail down to Little Paint Creek where I got our water.  It is a pretty good climb back up and after we set up our camp I found that I had lost my inflatable seat.  It was getting dark and everything was covered in ice.  We ate in the tent again and called it a night.

Day Four:  12.4 Miles

We got up to a very cold morning.  I hiked back down to the creek and found my seat about twenty feet from the creek.  It was a good morning warm up for me.  We headed out climbing Buzzard Roost Ridge then descended once again to cross 70 at Allen Gap.  Now we get to climb 2400 feet to Camp Creek Bald.  We stopped just short of the Little Laurel shelter for lunch.  We hung things out to refreeze while we ate.  A couple of ladies where hiking down and passed us by.

Camp Creek Bald has a tower on it, but you cannot climb it.  We just hiked on.  There is a good campsite just the other side with water.  Soon you can see Jones Meadow and the White Rocks which form a cliff wall.  There is a side trail to a good view off the top of the White Rocks.  There is a trail to the road to Jones Meadow where there were some hunters.  We checked out the Blackstack Cliffs too from another side trail with thick overgrowth.  You could see the bluff rocks the trail was going to climb up to Big Firescald Bald.  There is a side trail around Firescald to take in bad weather and I would suggest using it for that.  Firescald is a boulder ridgeline a mile and quarter long.  It is a challenge to maneuver over all the boulders and rocky climbs in good weather.  It is worth the work for the views.  You can see over many mountains from on top.  It was really challenging for us after a long day of hiking.  We decided to call it a night at the first campsite with water which ended up being Lick Log Gap.

I tried and tried to get something to burn for a fire, but ended up just eating in the tent and calling it a night.

Day Five:  10.1 Miles

We got up and hiked to the Jerry Cabin shelter for breakfast.  Yes, we had a snack before we left.  It gave us shelter and a good water source.  As we ate, some hunting dogs walked by.  We climbed Coldspring Mountain to find a very long grassy bald.  We walked through other fields and got to see "Big Rock".  There is a side trail to the rock, but it goes all the way around the rock and back to the main trail.  The Big rock is just a big rock and the views are not very much to see.  From there we started our road walking which is the longest road walk so far on the AT.  Its old gravel road, but it is road. It went up Big Butt which is our 300 miles on the AT mark.

The decent to Flint Gap is a major steep 1000 foot drop.  We ate lunch in the Gap and then climbed to the Flint Mountain shelter which is in the best shape of all the shelters in this section.

The rest of our hike was pretty and level walking.  We only saw birds for wildlife and probably four different memorials for thru hikers that have died.  Not sure why they are all on this section?

Total Miles:  55.6 Miles