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.