Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wilderness Wildlife Week

I had two days off  so I drove to Pigeon Forge to hook up with Craig's mom and dad. They volunteer for this event so Carol wanted to show me around. There were so many programs to choose from! I listened to Stephen Bales from Ijams talk about identifying local birds of prey. Carol found me after that so we went together to TWRA's talk about their successes and challenges managing Tennessee's wildlife.

Next was winter nature observations by Joel Zachery, who was very entertaining. Then we checked in on the Beginning Clogging class by the 80 something year old instructors JK and Doris Patton. Carol is going to help out with tomorrow's class. Phew! just trying to keep up, we ran on to listen to retired Ranger Joe Kelly tell us GSM History you May Not Know. Really good! Then we found Jim in time for the Hike Sign Up. This is a lottery system to be fair for folks wanting to go on the hikes and bus trips.

Then a quick bite to eat and on to the night time show. Store Britches, a historical comedy that was first performed in 1936, celebrating our Appalachian Heritage.
Since the ice cream shop was already closed by then, we headed to the hotel for a much deserved good night's sleep....after mapping out the next day's itinerary.


I had signed up for a 13.5 mile hike to Sugarland Mt, led by Marty Silver. If you get the Tennessee Conservationist magazine, this month's cover shots are his. He is a Ranger at Warrior's Path SP. Since Newfound Gap road was closed due to snow, plan B for the hike was Rocky Top. Since that road was also closed this morning, Plan C is now Cosby and Mt. Camerer, since that road IS open. 7 hikers and 2 Rangers, 11 miles and lots of snow. It was a beautiful winter wonderland. Ranger Marty led us onward and upward, pointing out tracks in the snow, moss, lichens, trees. Wonderful hike, glad to meet new hiking friends.

Back at the LeConte Center, I found Carol at the clogging event to let her know I was off the trail and heading home. I am so glad I finally made it to the Wilderness Wildlife Week. If you haven't been, you should put it on your calender. Next year it will be in May instead of January.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Stringer's Ridge Park / Chattanooga Aquarium

We went to Chattanooga today to explore a new park to us.  The Stringer's Ridge Park is just off Hwy 27.  There are lots of trails here.  Most of the trails are bike / hike trails.  We started at the Cherokee Trailhead and did about all the trails in the park. About 4.8 miles. All of the trails are up and down across the mountain top.  There are some old remnants of houses and an overlook.

After we were done hiking, we decided to head to the Aquarium and check it out.  It is amazing at how many different God's creations that there are.  Very nice and a good time.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Curry Mountain Trail

Jan 17
Smoky Mountains 2 day hiking trip

Day 1: Curry Mt...3.3, 
Meigs Mountain...1.9,
Lumber Ridge...4.0, 
the 'M' trail...0.3,
Spruce Flat Falls...2.0.  

Day 2: Jakes Creek...0.4,
Meigs Mountain...6.0,
Meigs Creek...3.5

I met Lillian in Townsend for 2 days of hiking adventures. We drove to the Smoky Mt Institute to leave a shuttle car, then on to Metcalf Bottoms to start day one. The Curry Mountain Trail follows an old logging road thru different types of forest, even a rhododendron tunnel. We saw some stone walls and piles of rocks, old chestnut stumps, lots of vines twining and twisting up into the treetops. After the junction with Meigs Mountain trail we stopped at a cemetery then to the Lumber Ridge Trail. It started as a pretty level walk then uphill to Lumber Ridge. As we hiked down the ridge toward the Institute we watched for a trail to Spruce Flat Falls. We found a trail labeled M and decided to investigate. It turned into an obstacle course with trees to climb over and around and a skinny little path that narrowed as we went along. When it started to drop steeply down we decided to turn around. This must be a training course for the more adventurous. The closer we came to the Institute the more folks we saw on the trail. We laughed when we saw the sign for the falls. Lots of folks on this trail. Short walk from the Institute, good trail, pretty waterfall. After we collected the car from Metcalf bottoms we headed toward Townsend and the McBride Bed and Breakfast, and supper, and a shower, and some cough medicine. 

After breakfast with Mom and Dad McBride we scraped the ice off our windshield and headed back to the Park and Little River Road. We left a car at the Sinks, then on to Elkmont to our trailhead, only we missed the turn??? and turned around at Sugarlands and headed back to Elkmont to our trailhead. We walked past the old homes on the Jakes Creek Trail then on to Meigs Mountain. We passed a couple of campsites and a couple having a glass of wine at one of them. The book says one campsite used to be an orchard and a garden. We saw some old iron pieces that could have been from an engine or maybe a tractor. The other campsite used to have a house, barn and smokehouse here. Then on the the Meigs Creek Trail. It didn't take long to find the first of many creek crossings. The first two weren't too bad, the third, I changed into my water shoes. Lillian make it across, crossing thru rhodo branches on both sides of the creek and rock hopping. On the fourth crossing, she pulled off her boots and did an old fashioned foot washing; barefoot hiking to the next crossing. Boots back on her cold feet, she managed to rock hop the rest of the 18 crossings. I kept my crocs on until no more creek crossings. My oh my that water was COLD! A little uphill to get us warm again, then down, down to the Sinks. There were 4 young people playing around the creek at the bottom of the hill. One guy had a squiggly black salamander to show for his muddy digging. We made it to the trailhead in good time and back to Elkmont to get the other car. 

Two beautiful days of hiking in the Smoky Mountains. 


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Little Greenbriar Trail

8.6 Miles total for out and back

Lora and I decided to take a day hike since we were in the area.  Another trail off of Lora's list.  We drove through Wears Valley to the trailhead.  This is an easy trail, but is also uphill one way and downhill on the way out.  We had a good time even if the views were hidden in the cloud.  Lora provided entertainment for me when she looked up and jumped.  She thought that a tree root was a snake.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

TTA - Twin Forks Trail

Sara led our hike today.  We hiked along the Stones river on a horse trail that we learned was originally built by the TTA.  We had eight hikers who braved the cold on our hike today:  Roy Duncan, Chris King, Craig McBride, Sara Pollard, Scott Wieland, Wayne Yancey, David Zabriskie, and Jennifer Zahn.  This hike was part of the 20 mile Twins Forks Trail.  

We left vehicles at the East Fork Recreation Area.  We started our hike on Central Valley Road instead of Walter Hill Dam because of a serious stream crossing in that area.  We had beautiful views of the Stones River all along the way.  

An area of the trail was flooded and Sara refused to take her boots off and walk across it, so we were able cross the ankle deep water using a tree that had fallen over it.   The guys chose to walk across the fallen tree, but the ladies decided to sit down and “shimmy” across.   

We also did an extra 1.75 mile loop off the main trail for a total of about 9 miles for the day.  This was a good winter hike,  and  the weather turned out perfect!


Monday, January 5, 2015

Mt. Sterling

Day One: 8.25
Mt. Sterling trail 2.7
Mt. Sterling trail 0.4
Mt. Sterling Ridge trail 1.4
Pretty Hollow Gap trail 3.75
Campsite #39

Day Two: 10.65
Pretty Hollow Gap trail 0.25
Little Cataloochee trail 5.2
Little Cataloochee trail 1.1
Long Bunk trail 3.6
Mt. Sterling trail 0.5

Total Miles: 18.9 miles

Lora and I headed out to knock out some more trails on her map.  We started off NC 284 at the Mt. Sterling trailhead.  We like to start out with a good climb so we did the 1900 feet in 2.7 miles.  At the tower we saw the only two people we saw on the trail this hike.  The views from the tower were great.  Then we hiked back to the Mt. Sterling Ridge trail to start our hike down to Campsite #39 for the night.  It was a pretty uneventful hike on a beautiful day.  We did have to do a three water crossings in crocks as the water was up from all the rain.

When we got to camp, it was getting dark so we jumped into hunting firewood.  This was the first time that I have been here that there was firewood all over the place.  Usually it looks like someone vacuumed the area.  We got camp set up and a fire going.  It was a clear night and soon the very bright moon shined on us.  It was supposed to get down to 25 degrees tonight.

The next morning we got up and had breakfast around the fire.  We packed up and headed out for Cataloochee.  We did kick up a flock of turkeys on the Little Cataloochee trail.  Once you get over the ridge, you start getting into the cabins and a church.  It is always cool to see stuff like that and wonder how life must have been at that time.  We took the trail all the way to NC 284 to mark it off on the map.  We ate lunch and then hiked back to Long Bunk trail.

On the Long Bunk trail, we got into snow up at elevation.  We could see the snow on the mountains that morning as we looked up at them.  It had sleeted a little bit last night.

When we got to the Mt. Sterling trail we found a group of tree limb cutters with a four wheeler and trailer.  They were clearing the power line up to the tower. Of course they were amazed that anyone would stay out last night in that weather.