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!