Sunday, December 13, 2015

Ace Gap Trail

I found a willing backpack partner for the weekend, so Smoky Mountains here we come! Ace Gap trailhead is on the park boundary at Rich Mountain Gap. I passed a couple of bicycle riders going up Old Cades Cove Road, and when I met Judy at the trailhead, they rode by and kept going. With all their energy we could have hired them to carry our packs J The trail descriptions talk about Campsite 4 at Kelly Gap (no longer there) and Campsite 7 at Ace Gap (no longer there). The old railroad bed crosses here. Judi says the pink lady slippers put on a show between Kelly Gap and Beard Cane Trail. I will have to come in the spring to see them!

We were heading to Campsite 3 on the Beard Cane Trail (still here). It is a pretty campsite, level under the hemlocks and by the junction of Beard Cane Creek and Hesse Creek. We had to cross two creeks to get to the camp. Not bad today but we could see where the water had been up after the last rain. Glad is was lower! We got to camp early enough to collect plenty of firewood. We had nice log furniture for cooking and sitting by the bonfire. It was a warm day and didn’t get cold enough to get the fire going the next morning so we left plenty of wood behind for the next campers. We were packing up and I took the water bag down to empty it, looked inside and found a critter inspecting the filter. Crawdad. His story follows this one. I carried him back to the creek where I scooped him from the day before, not sure but I think I got a dirty look from him before he disappeared….

We started back toward the car and watched for the big pines described in the brown book, one with a lightning scar and one 30 inches in diameter. We think we found the big one, but never found the one with the lightning scar. Considering the year the book was published, that tree may have fallen.

Crawdad’s story:
I was hiking up the creek about to go over the cool waterfall. It must have been at least 10 inches high! When all of a sudden I saw a big blue UFO come out of the sky an hover over the creek, it opened a door and landed in the creek, then it started coming toward me and the next thing I knew it swallowed me up! The door closed and I knew we were flying away from the waterfall and no telling where the UFO would take me. I knew we landed and then slowly the water started seeping out. The tall white thing was drinking all my water!!!! Then the UFO took off again, the door opened and down we swooped! I could hear the creek and thought I could escape, but the water gathering was so quick it washed me back to the bottom of the UFO. When it landed again, night was falling and water started seeping out again, but the tall white thing must not have been as thirsty so I still had enough to survive. Daylight came and again we were flying, the door opened and splash, I WAS BACK IN MY CREEK! I ran under the closest rock in case they tried to catch me again. The big blue UFO flew away

The very nervous Crawdad


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Dayton Christmas Parade

Lora went to the Dayton Christmas Parade on her way back from the hike.


TTA Piney River

Met up with the Soddy Daisy TTA  at Piney River for a Saturday hike. George brought 3 hikers that I hadn't hiked with before. This was their first hike at Piney. We dropped a car at the Newby Branch Trailhead and drove back to start at the Shut in Gap parking area. We met 2 other hikers that were exploring the area and told them about the CT and to go online for good maps and descriptions of the trails. 

It's always cool to hike a trail with people who are seeing it for the first time and see it thru their eyes.

The recent rains added to the creek levels and made for an exciting crossing of McDonald Creek. The 5 of us used 3 different routes to get across without any mishaps. Whew! Tree hugging and rock scrambling. Then we had two trees we had to climb thru. George had a saw and took care of a few limbs, the rest need some chainsaw action.

The sky was so blue and the weather was perfect, the only critters we saw were a woodpecker, a snail and a large bird that flew down the creek so fast we couldn't tell what it was. 

Good hike!


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ohio 2015

Lora and I were blessed to spend a few days in Ohio with Valerie and Braedon. We also got time in with Gordon, Janice, and Olivia. Braedon took me swimming at the hotel pool alot!


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Yellow Stand Lead - Big Frog Wilderness

Day One: 4.1
Yellow Stand Lead 2.3
Big Frog 0.9
Rough Creek 0.9

Day Two: 8.4
Rough Creek 0.6
Fork Ridge 1.8
Big Frog 1.9
Grassy Gap 1.7
Big Creek 2.4

Lora and I headed over to the Big Frog Wilderness for an overnight backpack. We started at the Yellow Stand Lead trailhead. This trail has lots of mountain views this time of year. There was still lots of colors on the trees which surprised us. We took it up to Low Gap where we turned on the Big Frog trail going down to the Rough Creek trail. Rough Creek drops down to the West Fork where after we crossed the creek we hiked to where we found a place to set up camp.

Our campsite was not level and it was very rocky which of course was a challenge to walk around. We gathered firewood and enjoyed a night around a nice fire. Just as we were talking about calling it a day, it started sprinkling. We got camp cleaned up, bear bag hung, and under our tarps before the real rain started coming down. It rained a few times, but not hard through the night.

The next morning we headed out and climbed to the Fork Ridge trail and took it to where we thought was Chimneytop, but no. The trees were all frozen from the night before. We talked to some guys that thought that they were at Chimneytop as well and came to the conclusion that there is nothing special about the place. We headed down trail #64 which is Big Frog and figured this out when we came back into Low Gap once again. So we turned and took Grassy Gap trail to Big Creek instead.

Grassy Gap is a very beautiful trail as long as scenery is concerned. Creeks, mountain views, and a variety of ecosystems. We even got a good view of the frozen Big Frog through a gap. At Big Creek we headed back down to the car. There are lots of camping spots along this trail. There is also one creek crossing of the Peter Camp Branch.

It was another beautiful hike.


Friday, November 13, 2015

TTA Annual Meeting 2015

TTA Annual Meeting 2015.
Hosted by the East TN chapter.

 I got to the meeting Friday evening just in time for supper. The meeeting was The food was good and the company was great. Getting to see hiking friends from across the state is so fun. We had a guest speaker Backpcountry Mgm Specialist Christine Hoyer who presented a great slideshow about the GSMNP. Then some cool music. Then off to the Lazy Daze Campground to set up camp. Sara and I camped along with Gary and Steve. I got to use my hammock since no one was in the spot beside us. It got pretty chilly. 32 the next morning.

 After breakfast, Sara and I hiked with Bruce Whitehead on the Jakes Creek trail. We first met up with the hikers going on the Cucumber Gap, Little River hike, to listen to and walk with a Ranger around the Elkmont historic area. Bruce, Sara and I had a great hike, climbing up to Jakes Gap and back. We got back to Townsend in time to clean up for the evening and shop the white elephant sale and bid on the silent auction items. The dinner was great, catered by Ruby Tuesdays. 

Awards for this year were Joan Hartvigsen for the Bill Stutz Award, and Jim Poteet for the Bob Brown Award. The live auction was lively and hopefully raised a lot of money for the CT spring Breakaway. 

Sunday I hiked with some Soddy Daisy hikers at the East Lakeshore Trail led by Tom Kressler. It was a pretty hike along the Tellico lake area, and thru the surrounding farmland. 

Fun times with the Tennessee TTA hikers. It was good to see everyone again. 


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Pretty Hollow - Smoky National Park

Day One: 9.6
Pretty Hollow Trail: 1.6
Palmer Creek Trail: 3.3
Balsam Mt. Road: 0.7
Balsam Mt. Trail: 4.0

Day Two: 9.8
Balsam Mt. Trail: 0.3
Mt. Sterling Ridge: 3.9
Pretty Hollow Gap Trail: 5.6
Total Miles: 19.4

We started in Cataloochee getting to the trailhead around 1 pm. We got to see some Elk on the way to the trail. There were lots of people in the valley and quite a few on the first half mile of the trail. After that we saw three backpackers, two hikers, and two people leading their horses. After that we had the mountains to ourselves! Yes, I told the horse people that I was proud of them for wearing out their horses as you don't see that very often.

It was a beautiful day for hiking and we got a good breeze most of the way to Laurel Gap Shelter. The Shelter has been reworked and looking good! Knowing that we were to have rain tonight, we gathered wood and started our fire in the fire place in the shelter. We had a nice evening around our fire place and no visitors except the resident mouse. He picked on us most of the night climbing around the bunk and packs.

One quick story: I had just fallen asleep and was snoring quite well. Lora had to get her earplugs out of the Ziploc bag. Hearing this I woke up thinking something was in our food bag and yelled "HEY!" and clapped my hands. As I was trying to get out of my blanket, which held me tight, Lora was yelling "What? What?" As I leaped to the floor, I told her that something was getting our bearbag and I was shining my light through the fog at the hanger. After not seeing anything around the bag, I was explaining to Lora that I heard something wrinkling plastic and she explained what she had done. OK, so maybe I worry a little bit too much about my food......

The rain had stopped the next morning and we had a beautiful hike back down the mountain.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Smoky Mountain weekend

Smoky Mountain weekend.
My hiking friend Lillian and I met at the Big Creek Ranger Station for a day of hiking some trails I wanted to mark off my map. Chestnut Branch starts out with a steep climb to test your lungs, then becomes a little more of a gradual climb. Old home sites had rock walls and pieces of wash tubs. The colors were beautiful today. reds, yellows, orange, and peach and light greens contrasting with the pines. And the young tulip poplars were so pretty; straight and tall.  Stopped at the junction with the AT then back down.

We drove to Baxter Creek trailhead to look for a chimney Lillian knew about. She found it. It's supposed to be the largest standing chimney in the park.

The drive to 321 along Mt. Sterling Road was spectacular! Winding our way up the ridge on a narrow  road pulling over for oncoming cars. We had to hunt for the trailhead for Maddron Bald Trail. Google says Laurel Springs Rd, which we could not find. I drove out 3 roads before finding the trail sign on Baxter Road. I only needed to hike 1.2 miles of this trail. We stopped at the Willis Baxter Cabin to take some pictures. The cabin is dark inside. No windows. We rested at the junction and talked with a local lady hiker who was as excited about the fall colors as we were. We hiked back to our cars, Lillian needed to head home. I headed to mom and dad McBride's to spend the night. I got good directions to avoid the crowds of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge getting to Townsend. The drive across the Foothills Parkway to their house was so pretty with fall colors. I had to stop and look at the view of the mountains in the evening light. The McBride home was decked out with spooks and witches for the Halloween season. Boo!

Dad McBride and I headed out Sunday morning to hike the Rich Mountain trail. That is a cool road to drive too, going from Townsend toward Rich Mountain Road. We had a good climb up the ridge. We were almost to campsite 5 and was surprised with a bear with his nose stuck in a rotten log. He did glance up at us and then went back to grubbing. He was right by the campsite which had a big log that something had shredded. We sat at the trail junction to eat a snack and heard a crash up on the ridge and saw the bear jump away. It had pushed a dead tree and made part of it fall. As we started to walk back down 2 ladies riding, one on a horse, one on a mule were watching the bear. We stopped to watch and noticed a second bear up there too.

When we got back to the trailhead, we walked down a path to see Bull Cave, (evidently someone's bull fell into the cave)

Thank you to both my hiking partners for a beautiful weekend of hiking in the Smoky Mountains.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Father / Son Trip 2015

This years trip got off to a different start. We are used to not doing plan A, and sometimes not plan B either, but this year due to injuries we decided to do day hikes. We had a warm up hike along the Greenway to make sure that everyone was in walking shape.

Day One: 11.2 Miles
Ace Gap Trail off Rich Mountain Road. First we went to see the cave by the trailhead and then we headed out. There was nobody on the trail today and this was an easier trail as far as ups and downs. We learned that they have removed campsites #4 and #7 from this trail. We hiked to the Beard Cane trail and back. We did see a bike rider, which is a no no, on the trail during our trip back to the van.

Day Two: 9.4 Miles
Leaving from Balsam Mt. Road, we did the Hemphill Bald trail to Hemphill Bald. This is a nice hike along the park boundary which offers lots of views. At the top of the Bald you overlook the Cataloochee Ski Area and Cataloochee Guest Ranch along with lots and lots of mountains. Once again we had the trail to ourselves until we got to the Bald. At the top the ranch has a picnic area with tables.

Day Three: 8 Miles
Off trail today. We started at the Old Sugarlands trail and headed back to the Sugarlands Cemetery area where we went off trail to find the Rock House. Built by the CCC back in the day, the walls are still standing.

After that we headed to the Jakes Creek Trail and took it past Cucumber Gap trail and went off trail to find the Avent Cabin which is still in great shape. As we crossed the creek we saw a black bear that had been hanging around the cabin.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

AT- Carvers Gap to Hwy 321

Lora and I headed back to the Appalachian Trail. We celebrated our fifth anniversary on the trail, we completed the four hundred mile mark on the AT, and we finished North Carolina. We would be farther on the AT, but we are too busy backpacking everywhere else.

Day One: 8.7 Miles
This time starting at Carvers Gap. The battle was on for a parking spot, but we found one in the back. This is a very popular area and with no parking then no hiking. The first two balds, Round and Jane, are very popular so you won't hike these alone. Once beyond Jane Bald you start to feel like you on the trail again. We took a quick break at Stan Murray shelter, but our goal was Bradley Gap for the first night. The sun was shining and it was hot for backpacking today, but the views were spectacular. We were pretty tired by the time we made camp. We met a few "Southbounders" today and would see more as we went.

We didn't spend long around the fire tonight, but were awakened all night long by wildlife heading through camp. Some were rabbits, deer, and coyotes. Got to listen to some owls and coyotes.

Day Two: 12.7 Miles
We started out today with the climb up Hump Mt. which is another grassy bald. We jumped up three deer on the way up to a wonderful 360 degree view of the mountains. We could look back at Roan Mt. and look over and see Grandfather Mt. From there we went down to Doll Flats where we left North Carolina for good. It was covered in Crab apples. The Apple House Shelter is no more, but we stopped at the site for lunch.

After crossing Hwy 19 we did lots of climbing. We ate apples as we went through old orchards. We saw another four point deer and more Southbounders. We had hiked to Jones falls in the past, so we didn't stop there. We continued on down to Elk River for the night and camped on the side of a field. We didn't stay up around the camp fire long tonight, as we were tired out again. Lora saw a deer in the field once when she got up and heard some owls.

Day Three: 12 Miles
Today was more a walk in the woods. We celebrated our fifth anniversary today and went over the 400 mile mark of the AT. We saw more Southbounders and one making 25 miles a day, stopped and showed us some pictures of the wild horses in Virginia. More apples and we scared up some grouse. There were lots of water crossings today and lots of campsites. When we ran out of campsites is when we realized we had passed ours. So we just kept on climbing and stayed by the Moreland Gap shelter. We met three great people from Virginia at the shelter. After we set up our camp and ate dinner, we joined them by the campfire. It was not too much longer before the rain set in for the night.

Day Four: 7.9 Miles
Today's big sight was Laurel Falls. It was a deep descent into the gorge on rock steps. Rough going for sure, but worth it to see the falls. The trail then curved around the rock walls on a very narrow trail along the river. After that was the climb out and up to the shelter which stood up on a rock ledge with drop offs all the way around it. Not a good place to camp, but had water. We stayed in the shelter as the rain started again and our friends from last night joined us.

Day Five: 6.8
Our walk out this morning started with a river walk and then the climb up Pine Mt. to Pond Flats. Three miles of up hill followed by the descent to Hwy 321. We did back and forth with our new friends on the way down. Our happy shuttle arrived with cookies. We enjoyed the ride back and dinner with Dad and Mom.

Total Miles: 48.1


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sunday Hike

Sunday after church, Lora and I went and did the 1.4 mile hike down to the Possum bridge on the Cumberland trail off Hwy 111. After our hike, we went and helped count hawks migrating with the Soddy Mountain Hawk Watch group in the area overlooking Hwy 111.


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Chickamauga Dam Recreation Area

Lora and I headed out to canoe the North Chickamauga Creek at the Greenway. After backing down to the boat ramp, we noticed that it was a five foot drop down to the creek. The water was a little low for us. So we headed to the dam and tried the Lakeshore Marina and then the Gold Point Marina which both turned out to be gated marina's. We crossed the dam to the Chickamauga Dam Recreation Area and put in there. We ate lunch right across from the marina.

We paddled to the Coast Guard Base, across Kings Point, and into the slough next to Booker T. Washington State Park. It was a beautiful day full of sights. We got to see the Coast Guard Ship "Ouachita", four raccoon's, lots of ducks, birds, lots of boats, fish, turtles, and a sunk truck.

When we got back to the ramp, there were many people on the dock and two patrol cars at the ramp. As we came around the dock we saw the top of a ram pickup floating in the lake. The guy had just got his boat fixed and was going to try it out. He backed up, got out, pushed his boat off the trailer when the truck started coming on back........Every fisherman's nightmare!


Monday, September 7, 2015

Glacier National Park

Day One: After a late plane arrival due to missing a flight attendant, we slept in. We headed into town, ate breakfast at "The Night Owl", stopped by the grocery to stock up fridge, officially checked in to our cabin at North Forty Resort, and then headed to Glacier.

After getting our park pass, we stopped by the visitor center. We found out that the Going-to-the-Sun road was closed at the Weeping Wall due to snow. We figured that we would do Avalanche Lake today. A five mile hike including the "Trail of the Cedars Nature trail". This is a very popular trail and we met many folks on it. It's a easy trail to a beautiful lake with the trail going all the way to the far end of it.

After our hike we took the Going-to-the-Sun road up to the Weeping Wall where it was closed. We made a few stops along the way just to take in the wild looking mountains. We also got our first black bear sighting along side the road at a bear jam. When we turned around at the Weeping Wall, you could see ahead towards Logan Pass was under a blanket of snow.

On the way back down we stopped again for some views and then stopped at the historic Lake McDonald Lodge to check it out. We stopped at the West Glacier Restaurant for dinner which also had some great food. On the way back to the cabin we took a side trip to the Hungry Horse Dam. It is the 11th most highest dam in the US at 564 feet.

Day Two: We headed out to hike to Snyder Lake. This trail is less popular than Avalanche Lake because it is 8.8 round trip with a gain of 2,047 feet. Very beautiful and rugged. Trail is a lot more overgrown than the popular trails, but worth it! Once we got to the lake we went around to the far end and did some rock climbing on the rock slide. We went over to the waterfall and decided not to attempt the rock climb to the upper lake.

After our hike we went over to view the McDonald Falls which is real pretty. Then we did a loop drive out Camas Road to 486. Spectacular views of the Glacier Mountains, areas of old burn, fens, and large barren mountains. We got to see some deer along our drive and the North Fork of the Flathead River. It was a wonderful day. We stopped in Columbia Falls at the Three Forks Grille which had some great food.

Day Three: We headed over to Many Glaciers part of the park. It started out great with a sighting of a grizzly right off the get go along with some mountain sheep. That was before we got to the trailhead. We hiked the 9.8 mile Iceberg Lake trail which is really really popular. Lot of people every where. We got to see a black bear, grouse, chipmunks, lots of mountain sheep, and a beautiful lake.

After getting back from the hike we hiked down to Fishercap Lake to see the moose. After no luck there we hiked to Swiftcurrent Restaurant for dinner. Again, we hiked to Fishercap Lake to see a moose. We saw a doe and fawn, an elk, but no moose.

On the way out of Many Glaciers we saw another grizzly and two more black bears along with sheep.

Day Four: Another wonderful day. We headed to Bowman Lake for a 11.4 mile hike to Numa Ridge Lookout tower and back. We stopped at the Polebridge Mercantile to ask for directions and I had to scope out the bakery. Treats for later....

We thought we would have the trail to ourselves seeing no one on the road going into the park. The parking lot was full. But surprising enough, most went on the lake trail not the one going to the tower. There were deer at the trailhead. It was a beautiful hike up the mountain. We watched loons on the lake.The tower was locked and not manned and it was too windy to stay long. The cloud covered it  before we started down. Back at the lake we soaked our feet and didn't have to break ice. We drove to the bakery as fast as we could on the dirt roads in the rented Chevy Impala wishing for the Subaru we requested. Huckleberry/cream cheese pastry, cookies with more chocolate chips than you can count.

On the drive back I spotted a black bear. We stopped a Ranger to ask where to hunt for moose, he said that was illegal. After a quick explanation we got directions to Howe Lake. A fast 2 mile walk in got us grouse and a bald eagle but no moose. and a quick hike out before dark.

Day Five: We started with a drive across the Going-to-the-sun road where we got to see some mountain goats. The road is awesome, just hanging off the side of the mountains. We stopped at Logan Pass to check out the center and then headed on to St. Mary. At St. Mary we saw some of the forest fire damage they have been fighting up to this week. From St. Mary we headed up to the Canadian border where Lora got in trouble with the border patrol. He had an attitude with the badge. Said that there would be trouble if we crossed the line and then said "mam you need to get out of the open lane of traffic". There were no cars to be seen for miles.

So we hiked the Continental Divide trail, the Pacific Northwest National Scenic trail, and the Belly River trail. Actually they are all the same, but we hiked down to the Belly River and back.  We met lots of backpackers on this trail and got to see another grouse. On the way to Two medicine we saw another black bear on the side of a mountain.

From there we headed to the Two Medicine area and hiked the 0.3 Running Eagle Falls trail. Lora found something on the ground and asked me what it was. Moose poop! The falls was really cool as it came out of a cave.

We then hiked 1.1 miles to Aster Falls. I was telling Lora this was a good place for moose when she asked "what is that brown thing?" It was a cow moose standing in the swamp. LORA GOT TO SEE A MOOSE! We continued to the falls passing a few hikers. On the way back Lora spotted another black bear on the side of the mountain over us. Soon we heard a noise and turning to look, we found a bull and a cow moose walking through the woods. This is a really exciting trail.

We ate in East Glacier and then toured the Glacier Park Lodge. It is an old lodge built by the railroad all out of logs. Lora put on a musical performance of Amazing Grace on the 100 year old piano for all the guest in the lobby. I am proud of my woman.

Day Six: Today we traveled the Going- to- the- sun road and the sky was clear so we had wonderful views of the tops of the mountains. We headed over to Many Glaciers and hiked the 11.4 miles round trip to Grinnell Glacier.

We saw two black bears on the way in to the trailhead. This is a beautiful hike along three different lakes. Lora spotted a family of moose down below. Buck, cow, and calf all walking along a river. As we continued to hike up the side of the mountain we stopped for lunch at an overlook. We could not see where the trail went along the mountain above. We just had to continue climbing and then you could see the trail cut out of the side.

As we continued we had our first Grizzly encounter. Luckily for us it was just a mom and two cubs. They were on a downward angle going the same direction that we were on going on a upward angle. When it got close for our paths to cross, we were ahead and made the choice to just keep going. After climbing up to the glacier, we warned everyone that was up there that the grizzly's were going to be joining us. They never did come up so after spending quite some time at the glacier and we saw some other families come up, we decided to go down. As we were leaving we heard the familiar sound of an iceberg rolling over. It was impressive. We saw from everyone looking up that the bears were still there just further up the mountain.

On the way down, Lora again spotted a moose. This time it was a huge bull with a very large rack. We continued down to the lakes where we took time to cool our feet in the water. As we were sitting there, I noticed a large herd of Bighorn sheep up on the mountain side.

After our hike we got to see another two black bears on the mountain side and another herd of sheep. We went to the Many Glaciers Lodge for dinner. They were celebrating their 100 anniversary of the Lodge. We had a wonderful dinner. On the way out of the park we saw a grizzly with a cub on the side of the mountain. Then on the drive to St. Mary, we passed another black bear on the side of the road. When we got on the going-to-the-sun road we saw two more black bears. Our bear total came to 7 black bears and five grizzly's. We had a total of four moose, three grouse, and a snake before we got back to Logan's pass.

Day Seven: Today we decided to walk like the mountain goats, we drove to Logan's Pass and hiked the Highland trail. It is cut into the Garden Wall Divide with shear drop offs, but doesn't get smaller than a foot wide in sections. We hiked seven miles to Haystack mountain and back. This is also a very popular hike with lots of hikers. The sights were awesome! 

Next we headed three miles to Hidden lake. The view was wonderful from the top. It was a 550 feet ascent and 675 feet descent to the lake. When you get to the lake, cross the creek and continue along the South side of the lake for some more beautiful scenes. We saw six mountain goats here. This adds a mile to your hike.

Day Eight: Today's hike reminded us of some of our Colorado hikes with the shell rock and open basins with a trail wondering through them. We went over to Two Medicine and hiked the Mt. Henry trail to the Scenic Point. It is 3.1 miles one way with a climb of 2350 feet.

Our first viewing was Appistoki Falls and then you start the real climb to view the basin. There is a false top where you climb through a pass and into another basin. From this point you can see the Scenic Point in the background. We had one area of snow along a drop off which of course checks your nerves. Once on top you can see some 100 miles across the plains. Wonderful hike!

After our hike we went down to Two Medicine Lake and soaked our feet a while and relaxed a bit. Then we celebrated with some huckleberry pie at the only restaurant that also served sweet tea in Montana, The Whistlestop Restaurant.

Day Nine: The last day of hiking for us. Can we pull off another amazing hike? YES! Back to the Going-to-the-sun road to The Loop. We hiked the four miles up to the Granite Park Chalet. This is a hostel used by back-country backpackers. The hike is through an area burned in 2003. What a beautiful comeback! We saw our first deer when we got our first sighting on the chalet. We also got to see a hawk and an eagle soaring in the wind over our heads as we hiked. We took a break while watching the group of people close down the chalet for the season. They were boarding up the windows and doors as the snow goes up to the roof. One window, we noticed the cover has nails sticking through it all over. We found out that this is bear proofing. 

From the chalet we decided to hike some more so we headed to the pass to the Grinnell Glacier overlook. It was a short 1.4 mile hike. We forgot to add the uphill points. 1000 feet in 0.6 of a mile. On that 0.6 mile we saw a mother grizzly with two cubs, four big horn sheep, and five mountain goats. 

We almost got to see a grizzly feeding on some stupid hikers. They were standing too close and taunting the grizzly. She started towards them and they got the hint. She took over the Highline Trail and stopped many a hiker from getting anywhere for about an hour. 

On the way back down to the car we passed four deer along side the trail. 

Summary: Montana is very blessed to have such a beautiful area that is still wild and untamed. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. We met a lot of wonderful people from all over the world. Bear spray? Well a seasoned local told us "Do you know the difference between black bear poop and grizzly poop? Grizzly poop has bells in it and it smells like pepper!" The main thing is to be very aware at all times when in the area. Moose harm more people than any other animal in the US. If anyone wants to know, the way we covered the park is the way to do it!


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Lone Mountain State Forest

Day one: 5.05 miles
Smokey Bear 1.9
Dailey 1.5
Coyote 0.2
Southwest 1.2
Horseshoe Flats 0.25
Day Two: 8.3
Horseshoe Flats 0.7
Twister Pass 1.0
Sawmill 1.3
Longest Mile 2.4
Smokey Bear 1.9
Total Miles: 13.35

Lora and I headed out for our first backpack of the season.......well, maybe just a little too early. We headed to Lone Mountain State Forest. We found that the map on the internet is an old map and they have made some important changes to the trail system here. Also, after talking to the ranger, which reported that Rankin Springs is the only water source, we found many water sources and Rankin Springs is not impressive as a clean water source. Don't tell the many many frogs that are living in the spring.

The new map, which is impressively hanging on the kiosk, not only gives trail names and miles, it also shows the new gravel road that they added through the middle. The ranger did tell us that the safest place to park overnight is at the Forestry Headquarters which is right across from the main trailhead.

We started out at the Smokey Bear trailhead.  We found out really quick that when they do trail maintenance they do it with a bulldozer. We did not see the "Lounge Rock" coming or going back. We will have to find out more about this. We took the Dailey trail to Rankin Springs. Rankin Springs has some dirty looking water, but frogs were all the way around it and swimming as well. There is a small pond there. some hitching posts, and a picnic table.

We continued out to Coyote Point. There is a picnic table and trash can out there. The view is growing smaller with the trees, but it is a beautiful view. It is a great place for a rest. From there we went down the mountain on the Southwest trail looking for water and a camping spot. We noticed the creek lines on the map and wanted to check them out. We hung a right and went Northwest on Horseshoe Flats. The first creek line has a spring coming out of the rocks and we made camp just beyond in a clear wooded area. It felt good to wash up after a day of sweating. The weather let us know that it is not backpacking season yet.

We didn't bother with the fire tonight. We did listen to an owl talking during our dinner. The woods was full of noises of critters and we heard two different trees fall. Makes you check your hammock tree again.

The next morning we continued on the Horseshoe Flats, which we did not know turned into the new BMP road. The Horseshoe Flats turns left and continues to just above the Sawmill. Twister Pass trail, used to be Twister Gap, Still starts from the Horseshoe Flats, but is now bisected by the BMP road. Anyways, we took the Twister Pass trail down back to the Southwest trail. This trail was overgrown quite a bit. At this intersection there is a good sized creek. The Southwest trail has two bridges built over it.

We took the Saw Mill trail back up and found that the end of it is now the BMP road and the Horseshoe flats trail comes into the BMP road. The BMP road goes all the way to Poplar Patch parking AKA Carl Black Spur trailhead. We took the Longest Mile trail back to the Smokey Bear trail and out.

We saw lots of frogs, toads, too many spiders, a skunk, a tiny salamander, and lots of birds.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Nashville Meet Up

Our TN State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath led the hikes today. The hikers met up at Cumberland Mt SP: Mountain Dave, Sarah and two 4 legged companions, two ladies with 2 little hikers, and me.
We traveled to Devil Step Hollow for the first hike where we got to see the cave where the Sequatchie River begins. We also hiked a new section of trail that is being built; more of the Cumberland Trail. This part of the valley has some beautiful views of Hinch Mt. The fields were full of butterflies enjoying the Joe Pye and other wildflowers.

Our next stop was lunch back at the park; some at the Inn and some picnicked.  Then a tour of the CCC museum.

Next stop: Black Mountain. On the way up the road we met the hardworking CT trail crew that had been using weed eaters and loppers to clear the trail.
We hiked to the overlooks, then to a really cool boulder field. Dave did a trail run to check out the campsite. We really appreciate the work by the trail crew.

Two of our hikers had never been to Ozone Falls and it was too close by to not check it out on such a pretty day.
When we got there, the parking lot was crowded, lots of folks on the trail today. It’s just a short distance to the top of the falls, and the creek. It’s a steep rocky descent to the bottom of the falls, but worth it. The pool at the bottom of the 100’ waterfall was full of swimmers. Looking at the sandals and flip-flops  lying around, made me wonder if they would be barefoot by the time they climbed back to the parking lot. We took our time taking pics and enjoying the cool mist from the falls.
On the way back up the trail, our fearless leader wrangled a copperhead to get it off the trail and away from all the people coming up the trail. And yes I got to scream.

Thanks to Randy and the other hikers for a great hike.  


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Michigan 2015

Ahh, the family trip! We rented a house this year on Lake Michigan in Muskegon for the central location. We were blessed to have 17 family members make it this year. Activities included: Storm watching, Pigeon chasing, Birthday celebrations, Blueberry picking, Swimming, Sailing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Slacklining, Beer testing, Campfires, Museum visit, and lots of eating.

A great time for all!


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wednesday Hike - Rugby

Wednesday hike with Plateau chapter. I drove to Cracker Barrel to find only Harry and Harold there. Where was the big hiking group? Just when we decided we were it, along came Bill and then Pat. We loaded into Howard's SUV and to the trails we went. 

Rugby was our first stop, the Gentleman's Swimming Hole, and Meeting of the Waters loop. It's a very pretty trail, we didn't swim, but the water looked very inviting. The Meeting of the Waters is where the two creeks, the Clear Fork and the White Oak merge and become the South Fork, which as it picks up the streams and creeks on its way down into the gorge becomes the gorgeous Class IV and V Big South Fork River .

On to our next hike; only we found an interesting store first: R.M. Brooks GEN MDSE. It used to be the Rugby Post Office. There are a few antiques and a nice lady that runs the place and she makes really good sandwiches. We had lunch here. They also have bikes for rent and a campground. There is a trailhead here for Brewster Bridge. We drove a little further on 52 to find what Bill wanted to show us. The new bridge and the old bridge where the trail from the store comes to. The road to the old bridge has places you could launch a canoe. Pretty. We also saw a large buck standing by the guardrail. He was beautiful!

On to our next hike: Colditz Cove SNA. We saw 2 pretty waterfalls and Pat found lots of wildflowers and identified them for us. 

We had to stop for ice cream at the General Store in Clarkrange. Turtle tracks in a cone Yumm!

Thanks Plateau for a great day!


More Pics:

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Lily Dale Campout

Another great time at Dale Hollow lake. Dad, Mom, Marco, Natalie, Mitsi, and the girls join us for a weekend at the lake. Actually it turned out that we joined them at the lake as they started Friday. Lora and I brought the canoes and met them at the campground. It just happened to be an ungodly high temperature weekend. We spent all the time in the water.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Mitchell Creek - Dale Hollow Lake

Lora and I headed to Dale Hollow Lake for a couple of days. We put the canoe in at Mitchell Creek Marina, which is one of the nicest on the lake. The owners were very friendly too.

After getting the canoe loaded, we headed down Carter creek going in and out of all the inlets. We saw lots of water fowl and one big turtle. There were ripe blackberries just waiting for Craig to spot them. We managed to save some for our oatmeal for breakfast the next morning. We only saw a couple of boats out today. After exploring Carter creek we headed over to our campsite on Mitchell Creek, campsite #1. It is just across the creek from the Marina.

We set up camp, gathered firewood, did a short hike, and did some swimming. And waited for one LOUD motorboat to run out of fuel. That night we got to listen to three different types of owls. Lots of stars. We scared a doe on our hike.

The next morning we packed up, loaded the canoe and as we scooted the canoe into the water Lora screamed and danced with Mickey Mouse as he scurried out from under the canoe and all around her feet before running off into the bushes. After getting our pacemakers restarted, we explored all of Mitchell Creek. We were blessed with two different streams with cascades, two American Eagles, five Otters, a deer, and many water birds.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Watt's Bar Lake

Lora and I went to Watts Bar dam and put the boat in. We explored the inlet by the boat ramp and then crossed the river and explored the inlets on the other side. We went as far as Lowe Branch. Lot's of fun.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Oregon June 2015

Another great visit to Oregon.  We started out with Marjorie, after a good night, we went hiking with her at Pittock Mansion in Portland. Later we met up with Melanie and Avelyn for a picnic lunch. We got to Jagon and Melanie's and got her moved into the new house which we would be working on the next few days. We got lot's of grandbaby love!

We went back to Portland to see Marjorie compete in the three mile Rugged Maniac Obstacle  course where you climb towers of shipping containers, rocket down a massive water slide, crawl through underground tunnels, leap over fire and experience some BIG new obstacles. That was very cool!

The next day the girls took Lora, Avelyn, two dogs, and me on a 8 mile hike at Opal Creek Wilderness Area. We hiked from the girls memory, so when we came to the end of the "8 mile loop" we had to turn around and hike back. So our little adventure turned into an all day 14 mile hike. It was a great time


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Kephart Prong

Day One: 8.0 Miles
Kephart Prong Trail 2.0
Grassy Branch 2.5
Dry Sluice Gap 2.9
Cabin Flats 0.6
Campsite #49

Day Two: 9.0
Cabin Flats 1.6
Dry Sluice Gap 2.9
Grassy Branch 2.5
Kephart Prong 2.0
Total Miles: 16.8

Lora and I headed out to cover some more trails in the Smoky's that we have not been on.  We got an extra half hour delay at Metcalf Bottoms waiting on the rangers to clear a tree off Little River Road. We got to our trail head at 3pm Eastern time.

We started at Kephart Prong and took in what is left from the CCC camp that was there 1933-1942. The trail description says that "your ascent is so gradual that you rarely sense a climb." They lied! The only flat spot is crossing the Oconaluftee river on the bridge. The only place we saw people was between the trail head and the Kephart Shelter. A common day hike.

From the shelter we started through the different levels of spring flowers. We saw the azaleas, the mountain laurels, and Rhododendron blooms among others. We also kicked up our first grouse on this section. The climb warranted us to cool off in all the springs along the way.

We finally, 2600 feet later, made it to the top where we found the only Rhododendron that I know of that grows straight up. You could actually walk through it if you wanted to. After a little break we started our 2200 foot drop down to Cabin Flats on the Dry Sluice Gap trail. We were excited to see that this trail was freshly weedeated. Just after starting down we kicked up our second grouse which messed up our pacemakers among other things as he was at head level about six feet away.

When we got to Cabin Flats trail we saw that they had also weedeated it. This area has some old growth so we were blessed to see some extremely large trees. When we got to camp, we had it all to ourselves. Lora collected the water and noticed that she forgot to pack the hose for it while I started collecting firewood. We got camp set up and ourselves cleaned up before dark.

As we set next to the fire Lora noticed some flashing in the woods. Upon further investigation we noticed that the synchronous fireflies were putting on a show for us. So we spent the evening enjoying a private showing. Later that night we got to hear an owl as well.

I woke up to the screaming of my name! Thinking I was dreaming, I heard it again. Lora had a deer visit her at her hammock. Of course it took off with all the screaming, but I tried to make an emergency exit of the hammock which is never pretty.  Other than that we had a calm night.

The next morning after breaking down camp, we took the Cabin Flats trail down across the metal trestle bridge to the connection with Bradley Fork trail to claim this trail done. We turned around and started our steep climb back up Dry Sluice. On the way up we saw another grouse, but this time we watched him cross the trail and climb up the side of the the mountain. Much more peaceful!

When we got back to Kephart shelter there was a man from North Carolina that we visited with, then a Father Son from Lexington Tennessee. We got to talk trail with them and give them some suggestions on things to see in the Smoky's.

Another great backpack!


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Lilly Bluff

I met the Plateau TTA hikers in Crossville to catch a ride to the trailhead at Lilly Bluff. 12 or 13 hikers today, not sure, but we didn't lose anyone.  We hiked the Point Trail out and back, with lots of overlooks and a bluff climb (bushwhack) for a couple of us. I hope for no chiggers......then out to the overlook. Lunch was here for half the hikers, while the other half ate ours on the go to hike down under the bluffs to see a couple of waterfalls. Our leader picked us up by the bridge and we met the others at the Boulder Field parking lot. This is a really cool area with huge boulders among the gorgeous hemlock forest. This area was donated by the owner to the Nature Conservancy. Glad it was preserved for us to enjoy. 


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

River Park Urban Hike

I drove to the Tennessee Riverpark to hike with SD TTA. McBob was our leader for the morning, with 10 hikers. I had never walked the along the river downtown. We met at the parking area by the Boathouse Restaurant and Raw Bar.

 It's a pretty walk, we passed a marshy area where we saw green heron and a crane. We passed the bluff view art district and walked across the Walnut Street Bridge, down to a new coffee shop and then back the way we came. Lunch was at the Boathouse and it was good. We sat on the terrace overlooking the river.  I had ginger chicken salad on a bed of lettuce, mmmmm, and enough left over for supper too.

We only did about half of the river walk. It starts at the Chickamauga Dam, about a 10 mile walkway, open to bikes too.

Good hike.


Friday, May 29, 2015

Sale Creek -Tennessee River

Lora and I headed out with the canoe to the Tennessee River. We put in at the Patterson Road Cemetery boat ramp and headed up stream. Lots of fish, turtles, and birds. Another great trip on the river.


Monday, May 25, 2015

South Rim Trail - Savage Gulf

For our Memorial Day hike we headed to Savage Gulf Ranger station. We hiked the South Rim trail out to Stage Coach Campground.

At the trailhead we met a couple from Murfreesboro who was finishing up a three day backpack. As we continued out there were more backpackers coming through who had been out for three days. The Mountain Laurel and Flame Azelea were wonderful! The water level was down a bit, but would be added to today.

When we got to the South Rim Trail we hiked through the Savage Falls campsite, because neither of us had been to the campsite. There are eight sites here and they are spaced apart pretty good. We came out up above the falls.  We stopped at all the overlooks to take them in on the way to Stage Coach campground. We had lunch along the way and then on the way back we stopped at Savage Falls for a quick swim to cool down. The water is still a bit chilly!

It was a wonderful day to be in the woods. Got in around 12 miles.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Chinquapin Bike Trail

Lora and I did a day hike on the Chinquapin Bike Trail at Fall Creek Falls State Park. This is pretty much the last trail that we have not done. It is an old road bed that does a lollipop style trail. This time of year it is covered with grass. There were lots of squirrels and we scared some turkeys.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Eaves Spring

Lora and I took the canoe out for the first trip this summer.  We canoed eight miles. We headed to Eaves Spring Boat ramp off Hwy 30 in Decatur. We put in and headed West along Butcher Bluff and explored all the inlets down to Hunter Island. There is a bridge over the first part to Hunter Island that you cannot get under so we went around the Island and explored the cove. From there we headed back across the Tennessee River and explored the inlets on the way back to the boat ramp.

We saw a Bald Eagle twice, some Loons, some Osprey, some ducks, Turtles, Salamanders, Water Snake, Deer, Herons, and some fish (giant carp, and a gar)

We got to see an Osprey chase off a Bald Eagle that was too close to her nest. It was the same one that ran us off too earlier.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Turkeypen Ridge

We went over to Maryville to celebrate Mother's Day with my mother. The next day we did a hike of Schoolhouse Gap to White Oak Sinks and after checking out the sinks we took Turkeypen Ridge Trail to the road. Lora needed to complete the Turkeypen trail.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Big Ridge and Norris Dam

Once again the Plateau chapter was hiking somewhere I had never hiked. We met up in Crossville and drove to Big Ridge State Park in Maynerdville. There was a renaissance festival going on when we arrived. We left two of our hikers at the parking lot and headed out on the Lake Trail. There were several Boy Scouts and a pile of lumber at the trailhead. Eagle Scout project. We hiked a combination of trails to make a loop. Right away we had one fall off a walkway into the mud, messy, but only a small boo boo. We saw lots of wildflowers and some geese sleeping on some logs. After we looped back to our trailhead we met the Scouts carrying the lumber to the bridge project they were working on. We told them about another bridge we found that needed a little work.

We picked up our two festival hikers and headed to our lunch spot. Museum of Appalachia has quite a selection of fixings for lunch, plus a real sweet lady to take your lunch order. If you look at the pics you will see one hiker I won't name that was a little hungrier than we thought.

After lunch we drove to Norris Lake State Park for our other hike. 3.2 miles on the River Bluff Trail. Of course we went uphill first since we were still stuffed from lunch. It's a really pretty trail, with views of the lake, wildflowers and ferns. We spotted what looked like a natural bridge but didn't get close enough to check it out. I zoomed in with the camera. The loop back along the lake was so pretty with ferns and greenery everywhere, even a giant sized Jack in the Pulpit.

Our after hike treat was refreshing, ice cream! These hikers know how to do it right!

We stopped on the way back for a little history. The Wheat Community African Burial Ground, on a hill next to the highway in Roane County is a really interesting place to visit. The marker at the entrance tells the history of the cemetery since there are no markers on the graves.

Thanks Plateau folks for another adventure.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Pogue Creek Canyon

Wednesday hike with the Plateau Chapter was a Ranger led hike at Pogue Creek Canyon. This area borders Pickett State Park. It is not open to Joe Public just yet. We had 17 hikers plus Ranger Cameron Martin. There was a cable across the road we went in on.  We walked a road bed for a while then entered the woods. The rock walls are so cool, rock houses, small arches, and a few large ones. There were two stairways to the top of the bluff, built by Amish volunteers. Huckleberries are blooming there. The Mountain Laurel is budding all over the area. Another week they should be in full bloom.
We did a little off trail, soon to be trail, down into the canyon to get to our lunch spot. After climbing back out we walked out the roadbed to a beautiful overlook of Pogue Creek Canyon. You can't see the creek but Ranger Cameron assured us it is down there.

This is a beautiful State Natural Area, hope they open it to the public soon.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Collins West

I had a day off and wanted some time in the woods. Ann and Ann from the Boro agreed to meet me at the Collins West Trailhead in the South Cumberland State Park. They had never hiked this section. We were excited about looking for wildflowers. The waterfalls were really beautiful today, lots of water flowing over. We did find wildflowers after decending for a while. Lots of violets, some trilliums, Jack in the Pulpit, stonecrop,  foam flowers, sweet cicily, wild geraniums. We had lunch at Horsepound Falls.
We met 3 backpackers that spent the night at Sawmill. They warned us about a bear they had seen close to their camp. We didn't run into Mr. Bear, but we did find a lot of teeny weeny grasshoppers. The bridge at Suter Falls has a wood walkway to get on the bridge, the walkway was loose, a little rock and roll action. When we got back to the parking lot, a Park Ranger pulled in. I introduced our group,  Ranger Murray is a new Ranger for the  South Cumberland Park but worked as a seasonal ranger 10 years or so ago.  We told him about the bridge and the backpackers seeing the bear, and some trees across the trail. He will be leading a hike there Saturday, looking for wildflowers.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Soak Creek - TTA

TTA joint hike Soddy Daisy and Plateau led by Ranger Josh and Ranger Ryan. We had 17 hikers plus the two Rangers. Lots of wildflowers and  water in the roadbed to try to rockhop around and through. We hiked the 2.5 miles to the creek crossing, and lunch by the creek.There is an old well in the area to the left of the creek crossing. It's fairly deep and rock lined. 

This area will someday be linked to Stinging Fork Falls SNA and Piney Falls SNA. 
Thanks to Cheryl and George for organizing the hike. 


Friday, April 17, 2015

Big Soddy Creek Gulf

Lora and I went back out to Jones Gap Road. There is a sign up now calling it Big Soddy Creek Gulf. There were lots of spring flowers out. This time we went behind the cabin and took the old road bed up the side of the Gulf. They have added some benches along the main roadbed and at the cabin. We used the cabin one for lunch.

This trail needs lots of maintenance and this was the time to take it, before it grows over for the summer. Once you get far enough up, there are some rock walls and an old foundation from the mining days. Past that you come to a water fall with an old walkway across the creek. We explored the other side of the creek and went down to the bottom of the fall. The actual road bed does not cross the creek, but goes straight up to the top of the mountain. Just as you start up off to your right is a vertical mine shaft and the foundation for the hoist. We went all the way to the top into someone's yard and then turned around and hiked back down. It was about a mile and a half hike, but all uphill one way.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Ladie's Spring Backpack 2015

Ladie's Spring Backpack 2015
Day 1
Tunnel by Pass
Goldmine Loop
3 to 4 miles

Diane and Amy planned this one to knock out some more trails on Amy's map. It would also knock out some of mine and Sara's. The forecast was for beautiful and sunny (NOT) Thunderstorms, rain, thunderstorms, rain...but it wasn't raining yet. My sister drove me to Crossville to meet up with the other ladies. Diane's Honda WILL hold 4 backpacks! YEA! Another trip across the Dragon Tail, to the Road to Nowhere. At the parking lot we met a family from Amy's home town in Maryland. Going on to Nashville to visit family that live on the street Zvi grew up on; the world got smaller.
We started on the Tunnel by pass trail, joined the Goldmine Loop to campsite 67. There's a bench in camp and Diane hung her tarp there for a sitting area. It came in handy. We set up and gathered firewood, and here came the rain. Just enough to get our firewood really wet. Sigh.
Time for bed anyway, I had worked all night; Outcast Hiker.

Day 2
Goldmine Loop
Forney Creek
Bear Creek
5.2 miles
Looks like a pretty day ahead. On the hunt for wildflowers. Pussytoes, Chickweed, Anemone, lots of violets. The Dog Hobble is just starting to bud. When we got to camp, it looked like it had been vacuumed. We gathered a lot of wood, we will have a fire tonight.  Amy and I stayed up to see stars. The moon came out and lit up the sky. The creek is  good background music for sleeping.

Day 3
Bear Creek to Welch Ridge and back to camp
Forney Creek
10 miles
Bear Creek is a horse trail and an old railroad bed. We climbed to 4890' at Welch Ridge. The ridge top was in a cloud and spring beauties coverd the trail junction.#74. This is a big campsite. Nice people had left firewood stacked, and a pile of pinecones for firestarter. Amy's firestarter worked great; cotton balls and vaseline. We found a clothesline, and Manas Furniture set up the seating and adjusted the rocks around the firering. The creek was just the right temp for taking a bath. More stars for tonight. Beautiful weather.

Day 4
Forney Creek
Jonas Creek
12 miles
We re-adjusted our plans for the day to get Jonas Creek done while the weather was pretty. We hiked to campsite 70 and got set up, had lunch, and with super light packs headed up the Jonas Creek trail. Supposed to be 4 rock hops. We counted 6. At the first one, Diane skirted around the rim to the right and found some bigger rocks to hop across, still a little wet for the rest so we went with crocs. All the others were swift and knee to thigh high, for us short folks. The junction with Welch Ridge is just over 4500.' Another phone signal so Diane and I got to talk with our honeys. On the hike back to camp, the last crossing now had a bright yellow rope tied across the creek where Diane had rock hopped. Our campsite had some horse hoof prints that were not there when we set up. Things that make you say hmmmm?
We were too pooped to gather firewood. Supper then yawns. Amy and I stayed up for a little while, then more yawns. Bedtime. Creeks were so loud, the owls would have to be over our heads to hear them.

Day 5
Forney Creek
Whiteoak Branch
Tunnel By Pass
Noland Creek
11 miles
Our morning looked a little cloudy. We had just gotten everything but the tarps packed when it started sprinkling. We cooked under Diane's tarp. The Mountain House eggs with turkey, red pepper flakes and onion flakes were yummy and the cheese stick made it complete. We had a wet and steamy hike to the Whiteoak Branch trail. It's a short trail between Forney and Lakeshore. We hiked back to the car, dropped our packs and hiked the .4  of the by pass trail out and back. We drove to Noland Creek trailhead and hiked the mile to campsite 69 and back. Lunch at the car. Then head for home.
We stopped in Bryson City for coffee and snacks. La Dolce Vita Bakery had really good cookies. One fills up a saucer. Coconut Lime, and Cowboy Cookies, yummy. They have cheesecake, cookies, cakes, gelato, shakes, and coffees.
We drove thru Cherokee, and across Newfound Gap. In Crossville we stopped for supper at the Cracker Barrel and Craig met us there.

We were very blessed with the pretty weather. So thankful for wonderful friends to backpack with.
Total miles 41.9


Friday, April 3, 2015

Roaring Creek

Good Friday hike with Connie. We both had the day off, so we hooked up at the trailhead for a hike filled with wildflowers. It was a beautiful day.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Lower Loop / Piney Mt. Bike Trail

Lower Loop trail: 6 miles
Lower Loop trail: 0.2
Piney Mt. Bike Trail: 3.7

Lora and I headed out to Fall Creek Falls State Park for an overnighter.  We started at the maintenance building and took the Lower Loop Trail.  It was a wet morning and still sprinkling.  We stopped at campsite 1 for lunch and then shortly afterwards met some backpackers from Nashville. The three of them had been hiking together all of there lives.  They were out for a two nighter.  We visited them for a while and they said that there next trail was going to be the Cumberland trail.  We told them how much we liked the trail and some of the work we have done on it.

After visiting, we headed down into the gulf which is rather slick in the damp weather.  There were lots of flowers starting to come up and some blooms.  We hiked up to campsite 2, scared off some deer and set up for the night. We listened to two different Gobblers talking while we gathered wood.

We got a warm fire going and enjoyed the evening around it.  We heard owls in the evening and the fog came and went.

The next morning we took the Piney Mt. bike trail down to group camp 2.  Neither of us had been on this trail.  It's an old roadbed through the woods.  We saw deer, turkey, and found eggs in the mud puddles and in a pond next to the trail.  We figured frogs and salamanders. There was two piles of eggs on the land next to the pong as well.

When we got to Group campsite 2, we found they had made a swimming pool out of the river. It had a diving board and everything.  Pretty cool!


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Roaring Fork Segment - CT

Lora and I did a hike on the Cumberland trail Roaring Fork Segment.  We got in about 11 miles from the trailhead to the end and back. It was a beautiful day and we got to see two flocks of turkey and three Bald Eagles along with lots of buzzards.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Cumberland Trail Maintenance - Graysville

Spent some time with Michigan State, Florida International, and Boston State, working on the Graysville Segment of the Cumberland trail. We had many Rangers and volunteers helping.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

TTA Stone Door

Today's hike included Murfreesboro members: Craig, Jennifer and daughter Lizzie, Danielle, and Alex. Soddy Daisy: Lora. CT Volunteers: Don, Carol, TC, Judy, and Caroline.

It was a beautiful hiking day in the snow.  We hiked the Stone Door, Big Creek Rim, and Laurel trails for a total of seven miles. We got our lunch in at the Alum Gap campground. Afterwards some of us and Cindy from Highland Rim chapter went down to see Laurel Falls.

Don gets credit for photo's and most trail maintenance. Jennifer get's most adventurist for walking through the water instead of using the stepping stones. Most active goes to Lizzie, who went down the Stone Door and back. She also got the only fall at Laurel Falls. Lora got most creative for making a snowman.

It was a great day spent with some wonderful people. After hiking Lora and I went over to see Greeter Falls.


Don's Pictures:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Jones Gap Rd - Soddy

Lora and I headed out to hike the new area in Soddy, Jones Gap Road. The have put in a new large parking area just on the other side of the train tracks.

The first part is gravel road going all the way to Board Camp Creek. There are numerous swimming holes through here, a water fall, and a log cabin. We got to see the icicles as well.

When we got to Board Camp Creek we did an old fashioned foot washing to get across. The trail follows a old roadbed along Soddy Creek and soon you pass an old Chimney for a steam plant from days gone by. The roadbed dead ends on Soddy Creek at a campsite set up with tables and all.

We turned around here and headed back to Board Camp Creek. We then followed the old roadbed along Board Camp Creek. Past an old gate in the first switchback there is a waterfall just off the trail. We continued up the mountain passing bluff walls and views to where we found some rock walls. With some exploring off trail we found an old mine shaft. Fifty feet in the shaft split going two different ways. We walked around and found another mine shaft in the same area.

After our find, we headed back down the mountain.  Another old fashion foot washing and on the way out we passed two older gentlemen that told us some history of the area. We checked out the cabin on the way out.

We celebrated a good hiking day with ice cream from Kay's Kastle,


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Gilbert Gaul / Link Trail at Fall Creek Falls

Link Trail 3.2
Gilbert Gaul Trail 4.1
Link Trail 3.2
Total Miles: 10.5

Lora and I headed out to Fall Creek Falls to do some trails that we have not done. We started at the Link Trail where it crosses Village Camp Road just inside the South end of the park.

Halfway between Little Fall Creek and Fall Creek Falls lake is Old Corner campsite, a small campsite without water.  It does have an outhouse.

When we got to the lake we found the lake frozen over. There are numerous creek crossings done by rock hopping, but the bridge is out over Fall Creek and they are building a new bridge. So, we had to do an old fashion foot washing in the snow. I was planning on getting a picture of Lora in the creek, but I got caught in a briar while trying to get out of the creek and she was about climbing my back to get out of the creek.

We thawed out as we continued hiking to the Gilbert Gaul trail.  We took it clockwise to the trailhead and then back to the lake. We kicked up a Red tail hawk and pushed him along the lake while we hiked.

The Frazier Rain Shelter looks like an old shelter that has been slowly destroyed over time. There is still a roof and short walls with a bench.

One more time across Fall Creek and then back to the car. On the way out we heard a Great Horned owl calling out.

After hiking we had to take a ride over to the Fall Creek Falls overlook just because we were here.

We got to see deer, a hawk, and hear an owl and the soft whining of Lora as she crossed the creek.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

TTA Fall Creek Falls

TTA Fall Creek Falls.
I met up with the Highland Rim folks at the park. When I arrived, there was a group of people gathered at the Nature Center with Ranger Matt, so I had to see what was going on. He had a work day project to carry lumber to the Lower loop trail to a swampy section that needs a bridge or walkway. It was good to see so many young people volunteering.

 Joan had scheduled a day full of seeing as many attractions as we could see before dark. We started out at the big falls and hiking down to the base of. The temps were still chilly but we warmed up even going down. The base of the falls were covered with ice; so pretty. Lots of folks coming and going on this trail. When we got back to the top we hiked the trail along the gorge to the Nature Center. We stopped at the Rocky Point overlook for lunch, but the wind was whipping and we went back to the top to finish lunch. At the suspension bridge lots of folks were in line to go across. One lady had a monkey, even it was wearing a coat. The dogs in the park were totally confused by the strange looking "dog" and took a wide path around. Getting back across the bridge took awhile standing in line. We hiked back to the big falls and then took a drive around the gorge to all the overlooks. We had to check them all out, Millikan's and Buzzard Point are awesome. Then on to Piney Falls, my favorite. 

It was a beautiful day to visit the park, and nice folks to hike with.