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.


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