Saturday, December 31, 2016

House Mountain SNA


Lora and I hiked House Mountain which is Northeast of Knoxville. We did a loop trail and the out and back to the overlook.

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Soddy Gorge TTA - Don



Had a small group today but it did not diminish the fun of hiking on Cumberland Trail. We hiked the southern end of Soddy Gorge segment which stretches between Mowbray Pike and Hotwater Road. This section of trail is in need of some chain saw maintenance. There are many trees on the trail, mostly in the Clemmons Point area.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Franklin State Forest

Lora and I hiked out to the Tom Pack Falls. We ended up doing a loop.

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Daddy's Creek/ Crab Orchard Mt. Segment - Cumberland Trail


Lora and I did the 7.7 mile Daddy's Creek section of the Crab Orchard Mountain Segment of the Cumberland trail. We left one car at the South end trailhead, just past and hidden beyond the power lines on Hebbertsburg road. We drove by the Yellow Gate trailhead and started at the North end on Keyes road. There is no street sign here, but there is a very large sign advertising the Keyes Harrison Wildlife Management Area. This trailhead is not noticeable to the naked eye either.

This trail goes through some beautiful areas with rock formations and creeks. There is a campsite with three numbered sites along side of Daddy's Creek. There is also an overlook off the trail.

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Harrison Bay State Park


Lora and I headed to Harrison Bay State Park after church. We hiked each of their trails and enjoyed the afternoon.

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Cloudland Canyon TTA


Soddy Daisy TTA, I met George and Gail in Red Bank and we drove to Georgia to Cloudland Canyon. Pete met us at the Visitor's Center. It was a cool and windy 42 degrees. We hiked the West Rim Trail and enjoyed the beautiful views into the canyon. Lunch was at a rocky area out of the wind. Thanks to Sarah, George brought homemade biscuits with jelly or sausage. Yumm!

Back at the trailhead, we drove to the East side and looked into the canyon from that side. According to the park map there are a lot of trails here we still need to explore.

After saying goodbye to the other hikers I drove to Chickamauga to see the Gordon Lee Mansion. I walked around the grounds of the manor. According the the website of the Friends of, there will be candlelight tours during December. http://www.friendsofthegordonleemansion.org/tours.html 

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Laurel Fork Creek Trail - BSF


Lora met me on Thanksgiving Day at the Middle Creek Trailhead of Big South Fork Recreation Area. We left my car there and drove to the West Entrance Trailhead. We hiked to the Laurel Fork Creek trail and headed Northwest crossing the creek 15 times on the way. This is a very pretty hike with lots of opportunity for camping along the creek.

We got to see one snake, two backpackers, and two horses with riders that should not have been on this trail. The sign said NO HORSES

After we completed the 8.5 miles we drove out to the Leatherwood Overlook and hiked the 0.5 out to the actual overlook.

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Black Mountain




Brrr this morning! I met Crystal at the Brady Mountain/Black Mountain trailhead on Hwy 68 after driving thru beautiful Grassy Cove. We were checking out the trail to make sure we were at the right place because we couldn’t see any blazes or signs on the Black Mountain side of the road ??? We left her truck there and drove to the top of the mountain http://cumberlandtrail.org/maps-and-guides/trail-segments/grassy-cove/black-mountain-section/ to start our hike. We were bundled up for the cold air, toboggans and gloves and scarf. We checked out the spring house then the spectacular overlook of Grassy Cove. We couldn’t see much of the Smoky Mountains, it was hazy that far out, but the sky was as blue as could be. Nice to see after the smoky days from all the wildfires. We hiked to the northern overlook but the views are not very good there, looking thru the trees. Then we started the downhill thru the bluff walls and boulders, checked out the campsite. Lunch was at Windless Cave, then on down the trail. Nice trail building on the bottom section. It sure was a beautiful day for hiking.

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

McGill / Rock Creek


We had 10 hikers to meet us at the Roaring Creek trailhead in Graysville to hike the new McGill Creek segment of the Cumberland Trails. This trail begins left past the kiosk. Don Deakins of the Cumberland Trail Volunteers led us on this 4.5 mile out and back.  

After the hike we drove to the Upper Leggett Road trailhead in Sale Creek to begin the Rock Creek Gorge Loop. We had lunch at the Rock Creek overlook but because of the forest fires in the area there was a smoky haze in the gorge.  It was a beautiful lunch spot and then we continued on the loop to the Leggett Point overlook.  The loop goes along Rock Creek but unfortunately due to the drought the creek and side streams were completely dry. It was still a beautiful day for a hike and the fall leaves were beautiful.

Hikers from our chapter were: Craig McBride, Sara Pollard, Jan Safavi, Wayne Yancey, Jennifer Zahn. Lora McBride from the Soddy Daisy chapter joined us as well as Cumberland Trail Volunteers Don Deakins, Carol Deakins, Judy and TC Varner.

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Cades Cove camping weekend


Herb set up a Slackpacker weekend and welcomed me to the group. I drove to Cades Cove after work Friday and found the group of campers around a roaring fire. I don’t think I have ever seen that much firewood at a campsite before. I was invited to a table full of food topped off by Judi’s delicious lemon cake. Plans were discussed for the next day’s hikes, what trails needed to be marked off maps; Judi working on her SECOND map!!! With a full belly I slept well under the stars, just the hammock, no tarp. I woke up to the sounds of a crackling fire, Firemaster Herb and master trail coffee barista Dwight already working hard. Pumpkin bread (made by Judi) and hot chocolate by the fire, packs ready to go, Gene, Judi and Garnett heading for the Rich Mountain Loop, Dwight for a scenic drive, Amy, Gloria Dale, Herb and I started for Rainbow Falls Trail. With a two wheeled U turn in the middle of downtown Gatlinburg we got biscuits from McD’s, (thanks to Gloria Dale) The trailhead parking was already packed so Herb was instructed on parking procedures going the wrong way on a one way road and we secured a spot. We headed up, and with a lot of wardrobe changes, made it to the Falls which was little more than a trickle. Further up we had two youngsters ask us how far to the Falls, Herb and Gloria Dale pointed them back down the trail. They must not have recognized the trickle they passed. We saw a spur trail that led to an overlook and Amy and I made an executive decision that it wasn’t necessary for map marking. We found the junction for Rainbow Falls and talked to a trailrunner that had passed us earlier and gone up to the lodge and back and was heading down Bullhead to finish his 3 hour run L Amy led us down Bullhead looking back along the way trying to see the Bull. I didn’t see it on the previous trip even with all the other ladies pointing out the obvious to me. We made it back to the trailhead and headed down the road towards Gatlinburg but got stopped by a bear jam. Bear sighting #1. We followed the crowds thru town, then managed to miss our turn by Sugarlands, With more informed directions Herb did another amazing U turn in the crowds of cars to get us on the right road. We marveled at all that traffic trying to get into Gatlinburg. Never seen it that crowded. At the entrance to Cades Cove we got in another bear jam and saw the full grown bear munching in the leaves on the hillside, not ½ mile from our campground. He must have found enough to eat, we didn’t see him after that.

We arrived to another food filled table with hot soup and cornbread (made by Judi) ready for us. We shared our hiking stories and Dwight’s drive and waited for Amy’s dance. We studied maps and planned Sunday’s hikes, shared cough medicine around the fire and watched the stars show up. The coyotes woke us up sometime thru the night, and Gloria Dale’s noisy neighbors finally settled down. I snuggled into Craig’s down quilt and enjoyed another night in my hammock. 

Sunday morning I woke to the sound of a crackling fire. The extra hour for the time change gave Judi enough time to rise and bake coffee cake for breakfast. I am loving this slackpacking getogether! Amy was heading to Rich Mountain Road to finish Indian Grave Gap, Gloria Dale was going to Anthony Creek to get a few miles in, Gene and Judi had to pack up the RV, Dwight and Herb were packing up, Garnett and I were on our way to Round Top Trail. We left her car at the Y and drove to the trailhead on Wears Valley Road. We snagged a parking spot .1 miles from the trailhead. Round Top is a pleasant trail, not a popular one according to the Little Brown Bible. We found one tree in the trail, and a big downhill slide that must be a re-route gone bad and was startled by a big bird. When we got the Little River crossing Garnett scouted out a good spot to cross. It was cold and knee deep and felt refreshing. In the parking lot we were applauded and cheered by two ladies who had watched us cross. Garnett took me back to my car and we stopped traffic for a short time, no U turns, all 4 tires on the road, no horns blaring. A great weekend of beautiful weather with good friends and new friends.

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Friday, October 28, 2016

TTA Annual Meeting 2016

TTA Annual Meeting 2016

Memphis and Jackson were the hosts for this year at Pickwick Landing State Park. I drove thru 4 states to get there, TN, GA, AL,and MS. Added Mississippi to my list of states visited. Alabama has spent some $$ on their highways. Nice. Got to see lots of WMAs on the way and some signs for Coon Dog Graveyards. People really love their coon dogs here. I got to the park before dark and set up my hammock in the campground with Sara and Gary and Cindy's tents. In our little circle also were Jan, Jennifer and Joan.

I got registered and shopped for a little while at the White Elephant tables and found some nice stuff. And some more nice stuff at the baked goods table, butterscotch brownies, yumm. The silent auction tables had some of the TN State Fair winning pecan pies again this year, and I also bid on a cool painting of a canoe. Dinner was in the Inn, then we had entertainment provided by Kindred Spirits. Then Allan Trently, Environmental Scientist gave a talk on our state natural areas.

Saturday after breakfast we met up with our hike leaders, Francis was taking 27 of us to Tishomingo SP in Mississippi. The park takes its name from the leader of the Chickasaw nation, Chief Tishomingo. The Natchez Trace Parkway runs thru the park. Tishomingo offers a unique landscape of massive rock formations and fern-filled crevices found nowhere else in Mississippi. Massive boulders blanketed in moss dot the hillside. This is a beautiful park. We had some excitement atthe end of our hike when a young hiker twisted her ankle and had to be rescued off the trail. There was a big family group there and some of their teenagers were coming down the trail and carried her to the trailhead where they were met by the Ranger and the ambulance. The girl, her mom and grandmother came back to the inn after the trip to the hospital. Ankletoo swollen to get a good x-ray. Hope to hear more later.
We got back early enough for me to drive to Shiloh National Military Park and watch the film in the visitor center. I would like to go back for a longer tour of this park, but I needed to get back for the meeting.

After another lovely dinner we went to the meeting for the chapter reports and awards. Rob Weber, the CTC Board Chairman reported on all the accomplishments of the Cumberland trail workers and volunteers and also on the future of the CTC. Looks like good things in store for finishing the trail and making connector corridors in the counties surrounding the Cumberland Trail. The silent auction was over and I scored! Pecan pie and the painting!

Sunday we waved goodbye to our hosts and followed our hike leader Glen to Lady Finger Bluff Small Natural Area. Getting to the trail was half of the hike for the day. We followed a gravel road that went thru a creek. OK for the Subarus and the Highlander but the two sedans didn't want to try it. Jackie got into my car, Glen came back for Ron and Judy.
The hike was 2.7 miles round trip. We had snacks at the bluff with a beautiful view. Gnarled and twisted red cedars along the bluff, cactus blooming below the bluff. Turtles swimming in the water. Across the river is a Migratory Wildlife Refuge. It looked like a good landing strip for migrating ducks and birds. Someone had camped on the bluff last night and left a big pile of still hot ashes. I poured my water on it, reminded of all the recent wildfires in our beautiful but extremely dry state.

Jan and Jennifer rode with me to the hike and I dropped them off at Sara's in the Boro. Got home and found my sister who had cooked a wonderful dinner and brought me a plate! Chicken and dressing, sweet potato casserole and deviled eggs. I love my sister.

It was a great weekend with the TTA folks and many thanks to the Memphis and Jackson chapters.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Father / Son Trip 2016


Day One: 7.8
Jakes Creek 0.4
Meigs Mt. 4.1
Curry Mt. 3.3
Day Two: 14.5
Forney Ridge 0.2
Bypass 0.5
AT 2.2
Goshen Prong 7.6
Little River 1.3
Cucumber Gap 2.4
Jakes Creek 0.3
Day Three: 7.8
Sugarland Mt. 3
Husky Gap 2.1
Little River 2.7
Total Miles: 30.1

This years new twist was Dad having a heart condition. During the find out what is wrong stage, we decided against the backpack and took the motor home out to Elkmont campground and did day hikes.

Trying to get in new trails along with positioning cars took some figuring. The above trails were what we came up with.

On the home side, Lora, Kathy, and Mom did the shopping figuring. Of course they had flawless trips and bagged some bargains.

The weather was mild for us. Clear skies day and night. Cool enough for sleeping and just a little warm for hiking according to me. There was remnants of snow at Clingman's Dome Monday. There were lots of hikers out on each of our hikes. The color was about halfway down the mountain as the leaves were already gone up high.

Our wildlife consisted of our drive up to Clingman's Dome to recover the vehicle at night. We saw one gray fox, four coyotes, and a couple of bats. The stars were a wonderful sight at the top of the mountain in the dark of the night.

We had some great together time and hiked some new trails along with some old.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

AT - Damascus to VA 16


Day One: 9.8
Damascus to Saunders Shelter
Day Two: 12.6
Saunders Shelter to Whitetop Mt. Rd
Day Three: 12.8
Whitetop Mt. Rd to Big Wilson Creek
Day Four: 10.8
Big Wilson Creek to Hurricane Mt. Shelter
Day Five: 5.1
Hurricane Mt. Shelter to VA16
Total: 51.1

We left Friday evening and stayed at Panther Creek State Park for the night. Saturday morning we got on the trail in Damascus. In the parking area there was another couple in a blue Subaru the same year as ours, so we had to say hi. We hiked to Subway and picked up our lunch/dinner for the day and got on the trail.

The weather was great and so was the hike. This time we passed the 500 mile mark on the AT. We had fires each night and slept without our tarps every night. The moon shone like a streetlight every night. We saw a lot of Southbound Thru-hikers and dodged some bikes on the Virginia Creeper trail. We went without our drink mixes and hot chocolate that LORA forgot to pack.

After we dodged some bikers on the Virginia Creeper trail, we joined back up on the AT and met the couple from the Subaru coming at us. They were doing a day hike. Shortly after that Lora checked my heart by doing her high pitched school girl scream. The snake about had a heart attack as well. We saw lots of woolly worms on the trail, none with the same color pattern. We also got to see our first honey bee hive in a tree.

We spent our first night with eleven others at the Saunders Shelter. Lots of visiting took place around the campfire. We also found out that LORA forgot the hose to our water filter.....luckily I carry my pump as well.

Day Two:

We got up and did us some hiking today. We leapfrogged with a couple of Kentucky boys that were at the shelter last night. We passed two other guys early in the morning who said they were out of water. We passed around eight crossings right after that so not sure why. We had to do some more bike dodging as we did another short section of the Virginia Creeper trail.

We were so proud of our accomplishment today, we stopped at our campsite for the night at 1:45 in the afternoon. When we figured that the phone had the right time, we picked up our packs and continued hiking. We climbed and climbed and climbed and finally ended up on top of Whitetop Mountain. There was a little boy and his dad at Buzzard rock enjoying the view. We came to the piped spring, cleaned up, filled up and found us a campsite for real. Another beautiful night. We walked back to the road and watched the sunset.

Day Three:

It was a very rocky day today as we climbed up Mt. Rodgers. We took the side trail to summit the mountain. We found ourselves looking at a pile of rocks with no view in the woods. Not very impressed with that summit, we ate our lunch and hiked back to the AT.

The Thomas Knob shelter was more impressive with the fancy logs and upstair sleeping room. Right after that you get to some great views as the trail follows along the rocky peaks and the wild ponies are everywhere. We squoze through the Fat Man's Squeeze and saw a couple flying a kite. They had a camera attached lower on the string to get some good views.

We crossed through the Grayson Highlands State Park which was uneventful. There is plenty of water sources and camping area's before the Wise Shelter. We went beyond the shelter to the campground beyond Big Wilson Creek. We had another hiker to visit with that night around the campfire. Sometime in the night we woke up to light rain from an absolutely clear starry night. Not sure how that happened, but it didn't last long. We heard coyotes and owls through the night.

Day Four:

Windy this morning. Very windy! Lora had a hard time staying on the trail across the Scales with the wind blowing her. We saw some bear scat and cows on the way across. As we approached the corral, we saw a cow butt in the trail. We hollered to get it's attention and it turned and looked with it's long horns. As we got closer it started walking down the trail and later followed us through the gate at the corral so we could close it in with the other longhorns.

We continued to the Hurricane Mt. Shelter where we made camp across the trail next to the creek. We heard a Screech Owl that evening and we had a noise that sounded like limbs breaking all night long. Never could find what that was.

Day Five:

We woke to the call of a crow. He didn't want us to sleep in today. We continued on the trail to VA16. We got to see the Comers Falls which is pretty much a small cascade on the way. Dad and Mom picked us up and took us back to Damascus to the car.

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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Thomas Divide and Smokemont Loop


Craig had to work a double shift on our anniversary weekend so I went to the Smoky Mountains to hike. On the way thru Wears Valley I saw turkeys, one white hen with younger ones. There was something wet falling from the sky that I hadn’t seen in a while. On the drive up Newfound Gap I actually had to use my windshield wipers! When I met the SMHC at the Thomas Divide trailhead on Newfound Gap Road, I got to wear my rain jacket and hat!!!
Cindy and Ken were the leaders and we quickly counted hikers (15) and shuttled 3 cars to Mingus Mill. We got back and counted 17 hikers with raingear on and ready to go. Thomas Divide trail had early fall flowers blooming, gentian, and lots of purple asters. The wind was gusting from Hurricane Matthew beating up the NC coast, trees swaying and singing.
We turned onto Deep Low Gap to our lunch stop at Little Creek Falls. We had some creek crossings that required some fancy balancing skills, log bridges with no hand rails, but no one fell in. Mingus Creek Trail was a pretty downhill trek. 14.9 miles and 17 tired but happy hikers to pack into the 3 cars, (how many hikers can you cram into a Subaru with a Ranger sitting in the parking lot? The Ranger was the same one that gave Tim a ride after our snowy return from a backpack in March.

I stayed in Cherokee for the night at Cherokee Campground and Craigs Cabins, in a bunkhouse. This is a nice small campground ran by super nice folks. The folks in the next door had a campfire between our bunkhouses so I got to enjoy the smell, while listening to crickets and night sounds. And then at 11:30 GONG GONG GONG GONG what the?? Went out to see what was going on. Asked a couple that were still up, him playing (sort of) a guitar and she playing songs on her phone so he could follow. They said it sounded like gun shots. Yeah must be cannon sized gun, I said You’re not from around here are you? They said no, hmmm. These gong sounds lasted for 20-25 minutes while I tried calling the sheriff’s office (busy) to see what was going on. After it stopped I was not lulled to sleep by the guitar playing. They finally quit around 12:45.

I got up Sunday morning to stars still shining. Went for a drive to the fields around the Oconoluffte Visitor Center and saw an Elk and several turkeys. Drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway thru some tunnels and stopped at the overlooks. Saw where we hiked yesterday from one of them. Drove to Smokemont to meet Garnett. Found her at the Ranger Station. The trailhead parking was full so we added to our hiking miles in the campground. We hiked the Smokemont Loop. Saw a few hikers on the trail, stopped at the top of the climb for lunch. Saw 3 deer as we hiked down. Saw something we couldn’t identify as we came out to the roadbed leading us to the campground. Looked like a small roof, maybe a kiosk, or ?? We didn’t walk thru the weeds to explore, maybe on the next hiking adventure.

After Garnett headed home, I decided that it was such a pretty day and early, I wanted more. I hiked the Tow String Road section toward the other horse trailhead, and some extra, up a hill to a cemetery. And a little bit of that horse trail.

More trails completed to mark off my map! Happy Anniversary!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Sequoyah Newclear - TN River


Lora and I went to the Tennessee river today to canoe. We put in at the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant boat ramp off Stonesage Road. This has turned into a four wheel drive road. It is in really bad condition. We were surprised to see another truck out there when we got to the ramp.

We put in and did both sloughs North and South of the ramp. We then headed South planning on reaching the Slough South of the Sequoyah plant. The wind was horrendous and for all the work we did, we never got past the plant. We made it to the power lines and then headed back. We got in a little more than five miles.

After that we drove down to see the next put in. We found a ramp at Dockside Drive and Hixson Pike and then at Chester Frost Park. Next trip down the river.

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Canadian Rockies


Day one was flying in. We had a good flight and customs wasn't even too bad. Now the rental agency..... We had ordered a four door sedan. They wanted to upgrade us to a Jeep Wrangler for extra money. We said no thanks and they sent us out. When we got to our slot we saw a two door Dodge Charger with low profile tires. This is not going to work in the mountains. Back to the counter and of course they had no more cars left. Anyways, we are driving a Jeep Wrangler for no extra.

We got to stay with the Brewers our first night and had a great visit with them.

Day Two:

We headed to Waterton Lakes National Park. Our first wildlife before we got into the park were hawks, and four deer. Our first hike was to Alderson Lake about 8 miles with an elevation gain of 5800 feet. Then we headed to the Red Rock Canyon where we hiked around the canyon and along Bauerman Creek. On the way up the road we had a mother and cub black bear run across the road in front of us. We spotted another black bear on the side of the mountain.

From there we went back to Waterton and ate dinner at the 49 degree Pizza Place. On the way back to Pincher Creek for the night, Lora spotted a moose in a creek so we stopped and took pics of her. A tour bus load of folks are here at the hotel so we had to blend in to get breakfast.

Day Three:

Today's hike was to Crypt Lake. On the way to the park we again saw deer and hawks. There is a 15 minute boat ride to the trailhead and being a holiday weekend, they ended up sending two boats out for the 8:30 am launch time. It was windy and the waves were large. We got a lot of good information on the trip over. It seems that bear bells and whistling to make noise is 100% useless. Those attract bears.

Now, this trail was on Grizzly watch so you had to hike in a group of four and had to carry bear spray. It was only up to a $25,000 fine if you didn't. We paired up with a couple from Canada. He was German and she was originally from Arizona.

The hike was a good climb through some beautiful woods. We had three waterfalls along the way: Twin Falls, Burnt Rock Falls, and Crypt Falls. At the second falls we got to watch three mountain goats climbing on the mountain across from us. The man that was with us tripped over a rock in the trail. He was leading at the time and as he was falling he was yelling out that he was alright. He only fell about five feet off the side of the trail, but he did it over about fifteen minutes. We saw his feet and we saw his head and we saw his feet again above the brush. This is nothing that my dad wouldn't do. When he finally stopped we asked if he was still alright. He bounced back up and off he went.

After the second waterfall the switchbacks got steeper and at one section you are walking along a 500 ft cliff. The trail sloped to the wall so that was great, but the trail was only about three foot wide. This section led to a small ladder that lead to a tunnel only four feet high. On the other side the trail got narrower and you had a cable to hold on to. Then you did a small rock scramble up and back to regular trail. After that you got back on a regular trail and the heart started working again.

Crypt Lake was beautiful. We ate lunch there as more and more people arrived. All at once a large group of them got up and moved toward us. A black bear came out of the woods for a drink. As always there are stupid people. This was no exception and people were trying to get pictures with him. Lora and I started hiking around the lake in the opposite direction planning on him being gone by the time we got back. Halfway around the lake and the bear is still wondering around and actually heading toward the trail that we were going to take. Plan B, we headed back the way we came. The bear finally headed back into the woods.

Now comes the interesting part. On the way back down there are people coming up. Lora and I ended up climbing the wall above the cable and sitting down while thirty others came by us. When we finally got down and came to the tunnel we had to have people go by us again on the outside. Finally, we got our chance and got back through the tunnel and down the ladder.

After we got around the bend and quite a distance from the tunnel, we heard someone up above us yell "Bear at the tunnel". We looked across at the tunnel where there was a group of people going both ways and sure enough a black bear came down from above the tunnel and hit the trail. We found out later that one person had sprayed the bear and he ran through the tunnel. One man in the tunnel sprayed the bear and the bear swatted him in the leg. The bear ran out the cable side of the tunnel and started climbing back up the mountain. We watched in horror as we saw all these people, knowing what an unsafe part of the trail it was and knowing that there was nothing that they could do. The bear then came back down and crossed the trail on the cable side and continued down the mountain. Yea, Wow!

Things went smoother on the rest of the trail hearing lots of stories from those directly involved. We hiked the Hell Canyon part on the way back which was very steep but beautiful. The hike was 10.6 miles long and gained 2,100 feet. We did get to eat huckleberries and raspberries on the trail.

After our boat ride back, Lora and I celebrated with blueberry and saskatoon pie. Then we started our long drive to Lake Louise.

Day Four:

We woke up and ate a wonderful breakfast at the Deer Lodge where we stayed at Lake Louise. After breakfast we drove up to the lake to see it with about a thousand others. Holiday weekend. The clouds were low so we didn't have very good views. From there we drove to Moraine Lake with pretty much the same results.

From there we started our drive towards Jasper on the Icefields Parkway. The sky cleared up and we had a beautiful drive. We stopped at Bow Lake, Lake Helen, Bow Glacier Falls, Peyto Lake, Snowbird Glacier, Weeping Wall, Bridal Veil Falls,Tangle Falls, Sunwapta Falls, and Athabasca Falls. We walked up to the toe of the Athabasca Glacier and watched the 6 wheel drive buses take folks out onto the glacier. There were people walking on the glacier in guided groups....not us! We saw mountain goats on the side of a mountain while we were stopped on the side of the road looking at a glacier. And then one elk grazing on the side of the road.

We ate dinner in Jasper at O'Shea's in the Athabasca Hotel. The cook had it going on. Driving toward Hinton we saw a family of elk resting on the side of the road and then a family of mountain goats posing for pictures on a hillside.

Day Five:

We left Hinton and headed to Jasper. We saw some long horned sheep and a Elk on the way. Drove to Maligne Canyon to check it out. It is a very deep canyon carved out by the river. Then we drove to Edith Cavell trailhead on the recommendation of two different waitresses. The Labor Day crowds were still out but they stayed on the path to the Glacier. It was a steep climb to Meadows but very rewarding. We had great views of glacier but with the snow and ice we couldn't make it to the overlook. We saw marmots and a pika.

Then we drove South on Icefields Parkway and stopped at Saskatchewan River Crossing for lunch. Good chili. We stopped at Rampart Creek campground which would be a good one to camp at if anyone wants to. 

We stopped at Buck Lake but saw no bucks. Drove the Bow Valley Parkway to Banff, seeing no wildlife. We stayed at the YWCA Mountain Lodge in Banff makes us feel like we are at school. 

Day Six:

Today's hike was the Plain of Six Glaciers at Lake Louise. Once we got off the lake, the crowed disappeared and we had a pleasant hike to the Tea House. We stopped in at the Tea house for hot chocolate. We saw three mountain goats on our hike. After we left the Tea house,  we got to watch ice fall off Mt Victoria glacier down to the lower Glacier. It caused a very loud echo through out the valley. We hiked to the Upper Beehive with a wooden shelter where we had lunch. Here we saw the helicopter rescue from Lake Agnes tea house. Some hiker had heart issues.

From there we hiked down to Lake Agnes and their Tea house. They were closed for the season so we enjoyed the waterfall behind. Then we hiked to Mirror Lake and back to Lake Louise. We got to eat huckleberries on the trail which is always a bonus. 

Then we drove on West on Hwy 1 to Takakkaw Falls which is one of Canada's largest falls at 991 feet high. It was beautiful. On the way there we got to see the Spiral train tunnel and Whiskey Jack Falls. This would be a great area to day hike or overnight. 

Then we checked out the Natural Bridge in Yoho and Emerald Lake where we had dinner at the lodge. We drove the Bow Valley Parkway again, wasting our time again. There was a pretty view of moon over the mountains. 

Day Seven:

Today's hike is Cory Pass. The trailhead is just North of Banff. You have a short hike along the highway and then a "OH MY GOD" climb. During the climb we met our new hiking partners, Gordan and Linda. They had actually read the trail description so it was nice to have them along.They were from Scotland.

Once you get to Cory Pass you drop down into an old Glacier Basin which is beautiful with views of Mt. Edith and then through Edith pass with beautiful views of Mt. Norquay. We ate lunch on the slope with a rainbow in the background. All down hill from here....

We drove back into Banff for ice cream at Cows, and went by the Banff Springs Hotel to take some pics. HUGE hotel. The Bow River runs thru town with a pretty waterfall to stop and see.
Then we drove to Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake where we saw a huge bull elk. Pretty drive to these lakes.

We were meeting the Brewers in Canmore for dinner and since we were early we drove up to Three sisters dam and Spray Lake for a wonderful view over Canmore. We then met the Brewers for dinner and headed back to their house for a restful visit in the hot tub.

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Hiwassee Camp, Hike, and Float



15 TTA folks spent the weekend at Hiwassee/Ocoee State Park. We camped at Group camp 6, with a few ladies at another campsite and one at another park. I didn't get there until Friday evening after work. just in time to see everyone arriving at the boat ramp after a float on the Hiwassee River. The water was flowing fast and the first ones at the ramp stood out in the water to catch any that couldn't get stopped. Everyone made it in safe. We had a wonderful dinner at camp with everyone's 
contributions, with Miss Garnett's brown sugar chess pie, and Marcia's huckleberry crumb cake for dessert. Yummy! We had a real nice campfire until the thunderstorm rained it out. 

Saturday started nice and clear for the Ocoee raft trip. Someone else will have to tell that story because I went hiking with Joan, Jane and Debbie on the Oswald Dome Trail. It was cool under the canopy of trees. We had some nice views, and had our lunch at the towers in the shade with birds singing and bees buzzing. Saw some nice late summer flowers too. On the way back the temperature was rising so it felt good when we got a little wet from a thunder shower.  At the parking area there
were some nice classic cars in the parking lot with a group having lunch at the pavilion. 

We returned to camp and I jumped in the river to cool off. The current is too swift when the water gets released from the dam, but lots of folks were floating down the river, some on innertubes, some with PFDs, some just floating by.


Some of us went to the Visitors Center to see a snake presentation. Some of us were brave enough to touch the slimy scary things, and some of us weren’t that brave……Anyway there was a corn snake, a king snake, and a rat snake that was big enough to eat the annoying little girl that didn’t want to sit down and be quiet. Not that we wanted that to happen or anything.

Saturday evening we had dinner in Etowah at a nice Mexican restaurant. They had plenty of room for our big group and fed us really well.  Back at camp we had another nice campfire. Watched the stars put on a show and had a good time getting to know some new friends and reconnecting with some old friends. 

Sunday we were supposed to paddle 13 miles on the Ocoee, but the forecast put a damper on that so most folks headed for home. Joan, Marianne and I went to Parksville Lake to paddle until the storms rolled in. We put in at the Parksville boat ramp. It got warm out there on the lake so we found a good spot on the bank for lunch and a swim. We followed the lake shore and explored the inlets. We found a real nice church camp and thought it would be a nice place for a future TTA Annual meeting if we could have the meeting during warm weather. There's a boat ramp, dock, pontoons, canoes, and a big industrial kitchen, a big pavilion for outdoor dining. Something to think about.....

We beat the rain back to the boat ramp; we only got sprinkled on while loading the kayaks. We had a rude guy in the parking lot asking us to get out of his way so he could get his boat out of the water. We were in the process of loading a kayak into a vehicle, not dawdling, we got there first. Evidently some boaters do not think kayaks are boats deserving a spot on the ramp???

Joan had to get back home, so Marianne and I stopped at the Gondolier for a late lunch/early supper. Good pizza. 


Great weekend of fun with great people. 

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Holly Park


Lora and I headed out after church for a little canoe trip. We put in at Holly Park on Soddy Lake and canoed out to the Pine Harbor marina. The water was busy with lots of boats and skiers, but we survived the challenge along with a few other kayakers that we saw.

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

McGill Creek


Don Deakins led a hike on the newly build McGill Creek segment of the CT. We met at the Roaring Creek trailhead and loaded into Don’s truck to ride to the Brayton Mt road crossing to start our hike. 7 hikers. And one skunk that crossed our trail just as we were starting. We hiked to McGill Creek where the bridge will eventually be built. The Southern Trail Crew is now building trail from the Downey View Trailhead (off Leggett Rd) toward the creek. After a break at the creek, we hiked back, crossed Brayton Mt road and hiked the section back to Roaring Creek. Excellent trail building on this new segment! This is a beautiful hike.

Note from some of the hikers: Chiggers were collected on this hike.

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Sale Creek - Lee Pike


Lora and I put in at the Lee Pike boat ramp by Sale Creek Marina. We ended up doing around 5.3 miles. We went west along the lake and under the bridge. We came back along the North side of the lake. We got to see three different deer, lots of birds, and fish. Another great trip.

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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Wisconsin 2016


Had a great family gathering in Wisconsin this year. We were celebrating Adams graduation from High School. Lots of adventures.

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sequatchie River II


Today after church with family, Lora and I headed to the Sequatchie River. We got permission to put in at College Station Road. When putting in, the branch I grabbed for support broke and I gave myself a black eye. The adventure has started! We went up the river 3.25 miles only having to cut a few branches. We got out of the canoe a lot going across low spots. We got to see a good size buck, an otter, a raccoon, king fishers, an owl, a white heron and some ducks.

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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Soddy Lake


Lora and I had a few hours, so we headed to Soddy Lake for a canoe trip. When we got to the park, we found that they were setting up for a jet ski race. I had never seen one of those before. They had their helmets on and were screaming around this course.

We went around the jet skis and under the bridge to the lake. We went as far as we could up each branch and then ate lunch. We got to pick some blackberries, saw lots of turtles, and birds.
Afterwards we went up Soddy Creek as far as that goes.

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Monday, July 4, 2016

Collins River Paddle


Today Sara joined Brandy, Jan, and us on the Collins river. We put in at the Dunlap campground on Hennessee Bridge Road in Rock Island. This is a nice campground right on the river with a good ramp.

As we went down stream we explored all the inlets and found some beautiful waterfalls, caves, and cascades. We got to see all sorts of birds. There were not many boats out, so it was a peaceful trip on a beautiful section of the river. We got out at the TWRA Kings landing boat ramp. We got in around 5.5 miles today. Great trip with some great people!

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Sale Creek


Lora and I joined Brandy and Jan on Sale Creek for a paddling trip. It was a beautiful day on the water and not too many boats out. We put in at Patterson road and went up Sale Creek. We did a little exploring on Rock Creek and then took Sale Creek up as far as we could, almost to Coulterville road.

We had a little excitement on the way back as we passed some campers along side the creek. They were shooting bottle rockets and firecrackers off. We yelled to them and they stopped, but as we passed one of the men just couldn't resist and had to shoot a bottle rocket at me. We had a little come to Jesus meeting and then headed on our way. There really is nothing you can do with stupid!

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

North Chickamauga Creek - Don



Lora McBride, Judy Varner, TC Varner, and I had an unusual but fun day on the water. We launched our boats at the new North Chickamauga Creek WMA Canoe / Kayak Launch near Northgate and almost immediately had to get in the water and drag our crafts over or around one log jam after another. In the first one forth to one half mile we spent more time in the water or on the bank than we did in the boats but it made for a day to remember.

I took lots of pictures of which 33 are posted below. If you get to the photo of the Barred Owl, look closely and you can see there are two owls in the picture.

Don's photos

Sunday, June 12, 2016

TTA Mt. Cammerer


Joan planned another camping/hiking weekend in the Smokys, this time at Cosby. I really like this campground. It’s peaceful, always find a spot to camp, nestled in the mountains, a beautiful creek to cool off in, and trails to climb mountains right there. Most of the group had arrived by lunchtime Friday and hiked to Sutton Ridge on the Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail, then the Cosby Nature Trail. 2 snakes reported. I got there just in time for supper. We had fried chicken and BBQ, baked beans, steamed broccoli, several different salads, and desserts-mmmm, the best thing about front country camping-you can bring whatever will fit in your car! It looked like tent city in the group campsite but I found two trees without poison ivy covering them to hang my hammock. The group next to us was really excited about being there and didn’t want to slow down their fun. Around midnight I suggested in my “don’t make me come over there” voice that it was time to go to sleep. ZZZZZZZZ. 

The birds woke us up to another beautiful day for a hike. Low Gap to Mt. Cammerer Lookout. It’s a steep climb up Low Gap to the AT. We found lots of gnats at the junction and Gloria Dale modeled her bug net for us. We saw quite a few hikers, and a few Southbound thru hikers, trying to hurry since Cosby Knob shelter was closed due to bear activity and would have to keep on going to the next shelter. If they came from Davenport Gap Shelter, that’s about a 15-16 mile day. Plus, Tri Corner had bear warnings also. On the way down we got to see a rattlesnake that must have thought we couldn’t see him since his head was hidden in the grass. We cooled off in the creek at the end of the hike. Some of the ladies got to see turkeys and a bear being released after being captured and tagged. We relaxed for a while and then headed to dinner at the Magnolia Tree. Good food and cold drinks, great conversation. Back to camp for another campfire, no marshmallows, good cough medicine, pretty moon and stars, and some overly bright stars projected from a campsite up the hill from us. I had just heard a story on NPR about how most people in the US have never seen the Milky Way or a star filled sky due to light interference. So I guess you can make your own starry sky with a projector. Weird. Our neighbors were quieter tonight, talking quietly and went to bed when we did. Hmmm.

 Sunday morning birds singing, sun shining. Breakfast of champions, pack up, head out to another trail. Hen Wallow Falls via the Gabes Mountain Trail. Pretty creek crossings, wildflowers, and a steep descent to the falls, steep climb back up from the falls. Back at the parking lot some said goodbye and headed home. A few of us stayed and had a picnic with the leftovers. Then, saying our goodbyes, Joan headed to Big Creek to check out the next camping destination. 

Nancy’s list of wildflowers we saw: Beebalm, goat's beard, Mountain wood sorrel, red elderberry, whorled loosestrife, rhododendron, Mtn. laurel, Solomon's Seal (gigantic!!), Partridge berry, Indian pipe, Pipsissewa, Galax, Canada Mayflower, bluets, Indian cucumber. 

Hikers: Joan, Marcia, Bill, Marietta, Sara, Jan, Jean, Kathy, Gloria Dale, Nancy, Betty, Garnett, Jane, Lora. 

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Cane Creek


Lora and I decided to canoe Cane Creek from the Caney River starting at Hwy 111 boat ramp. When we got there, being a holiday weekend, the ramp was crowed. When we finally got on the river we went East and the traffic was not too bad.

We started right off with seeing some deer along side in the woods. We paddled to Cane creek and went under the old bridge structure. This is a very peaceful and beautiful part of the creek. We paddled around the Island and up to the first house where we took a right and paddled down to the end of the slough. When we came back up we headed to the bridge at Hickory Valley Road. Where we took a break and then headed back.

On the way back we saw a turkey and some ducks. At one spot we also saw a hound dog cooling down in the Creek. We also got to see a Summer Tanager, a red bird, but did not get a picture of him. I included a web pic of him in our pictures. We got in about seven miles today.

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sequatchie River


Lora and I put in at the Hwy 127 boat ramp. This was our second attempt at this river. Being Memorial Day Weekend, we were trying to avoid the crowds. After we got on the river we ended up seeing about a dozen different kayakers. We of course did the hardest way possible and paddled upstream to almost Hwy 111 and then floated back to Hwy 127. We did about 12.5 miles today.

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Cades Cove Hiking Weekend


I had a weekend of hiking planned: Deep Creek area, Cades Cove area,  and camping in Cades Cove.  One hike got cancelled, the other one changed. Plan B, hike in Greenbriar Sat, hike with Lillian Sunday. Greenbriar got cancelled/changed. Plan C Hike with Lillian Sat/Sun. Good to go!

I stopped along my route to Townsend at Look Rock Tower. Had a 360 degree view of clouds. Explored a couple of backroads and drove to Townsend Y, found a pretty place by the West Prong Creek to eat my lunch in the car in the rain. Found Lillian at the Y and we started up the Chestnut Top Trail to finish the 2 mile section she needed to mark off her map. The early spring wildflowers were all gone but we saw some interesting ones and lots of ferns. Everything was washed clean by the showers. The temp had cooled off but the humidity was there. We saw the big tree marked by a bear and the views of Thunderhead. Lillian found her turnaround spot and we headed back to the cars and on to Cades Cove where we set up camp.

The campground was full and we got there too late to buy firewood so I scouted the picnic area and found enough to last the evening. Just as we were turning in for the night, an owl talked to us. The birds singing the next morning woke us up. The plan for today was contingent on how Mill Creek was flowing. If low we would hike Rabbit Creek Trail to campsite 15; if too high-shuttle car and hike Goldmine-Cooper Road. The water was no more than knee high so we hiked Rabbit Creek Trail. We met a pair of backpackers who had seen the Abrams Creek crossing at the Hannah Mountain Trail and decided it was too high and swift to cross and had to change their course. We told them the crossing to get out was good, they didn’t know they would have to cross to get off the trail. We got to 15 and took a snack break. The campfire on the hill was still smoking. Rabbit Creek is right there so I don’t understand why folks don’t get water to pour on their campfires when they get ready to leave. After a snack we hiked back to the trailhead, stopping to change our boots to water shoes to cross Mill Creek again. A family with two young kids and a German shepherd were playing on the other side of the creek with the dog jumping and splashing and barking. He was on a leash, but I yelled across the creek and asked if the dog was friendly, because we had to cross. The man said yes, he’s just a puppy, and Lillian asked if he could keep the dog from shaking water all over us. They moved over to let us cross and the dog got excited at strangers getting too close to his family.  Safely across and at the kiosk I looked to see if the “No dogs allowed on trails” was still posted. Yes it is but bless the dog’s hearts, they can’t read.

The parking lot was packed by this time, and so was the loop road. We exited onto Hyatt Lane and saw several folks out of their cars with zoom lenses pointed at a bear crossing the field. We crept thru the bear jam and back on the loop road. We exited onto Rich Mountain Road. I had never driven out this way. 7 miles of gravel road to go to Townsend with a couple of overlooks to stop at. We stopped at Indian Grave Gap Trail and hiked the 1.1 miles to the junction with the Rich Mountain Loop trail. The mountain laurel was in full bloom on the trails today, this trail had trillium and bloodroot leaves that were HUGE! Back to the cars and across the mountain to come out at the Ace Gap trailhead.

Thank you Lillian for being my hiking and camping partner for the weekend!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Piney River Trail - Duskin Creek Trailhead


Crisp and cool this morning, perfect for a hike. I met Crystal at the Walden Mountain Road entrance for the Duskin Creek trailhead of Piney River Trail. Two vehicles at the trailhead looked like they had been here all night. 

The mountain laurel was blooming along the creek and we found some pretty wildflowers and some cool places for future splashing or swimming holes. Beautiful hemlocks and a full canopy overhead, the shade and cool air along the creek kept us cool. 

We met 5 backpackers coming out, two kids and 3 adults, they said they enjoyed their night out in a good campsite. They had come across a rattlesnake on the trail the previous day, and warned us to watch for snakes. We didn’t see any snakes but found their campsite and warmed our hands by the still warm ashes. There was a roasting spit, handy for cooking, or maybe drying socks. The rock chairs around the fire were nice (and rocky J). We found a sunny spot on a big rock in the creek to have our lunch.  The CT website only lists one campsite but we saw 3 or 4 by the time we reached Hemlock Falls. We hiked back the way we came, no snakes.

Thanks Crystal for a good hike.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Cumberland Mountain State Park - Overnight Trail


Lora and I did a day hike at the Cumberland Mountain State Park. We did a counterclockwise hike starting with the Red blazed Cumberland Plateau trail, the Yellow blazed Byrd Creek trail, and the Blue Blazed Cumberland Overnight trail. 9.1 miles in all.

Lora had not done the Overnight trail and it had been ten years since I had. When I did it with the Outcasts, there had been a recent tornado that had destroyed the trail and it was rough. They have really cleaned it up since then.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Hazel Creek - Smoky Mountains


Day One: 5.0
AT to Silers Bald

Day Two: 15.0
Welch Ridge trail
High Top trail
Cold Springs Gap Trail
Hazel Creek Trail

Day Three: 8.0
Hazel Creek Trail
Welch Ridge Trail

Day Four: 5.0
AT to Clingman's Dome
Total Miles: 33

We left straight from Nick's graduation party to Clingman's Dome. The road had opened that afternoon and when we got there it was thirty eight degrees and three to four inches of snow on the ground. Just another Outcast type of start. It was five pm.

The walkway to the lookout tower was packed down ice to make for an exciting climb. We passed the volunteer ranger and he said that he had seen between thirty and forty thru hikers today. We never even though about them going through this late.

When we got on the AT, the first critters we saw were mice scurrying across the trail. I guess they were looking for bread and milk. When we passed the Double Springs shelter there were lots of hikers and two tents set up. We passed one more on the trail, who was suffering from a tooth ache. He told us that there were at least ten people at the Siler Bald shelter. We decided to make camp before the shelter.

Day Two:
The next morning we headed down the Welch Ridge trail. We hiked from snow, to early Spring, to late Spring as we descended in elevation. On this hike we saw every kind of Spring flower they make. Lora even got to see a wild hog which took off down the mountain side.

We took the side trail to High Rocks where there used to be a fire tower, which is just a wonderful view of Fontana lake and a keepers cabin is still standing. We explored the cabin and ate lunch enjoying the view.

We took a break at the Cold Spring Gap trailhead, where I dug up a salamander from the leaves. This trail is nothing but rocks. A lot of it looks just like a creek bed including the water. It is in the most beautiful area of the park. We had a couple of creek crossings before we got to the big one at Hazel Creek. It was knee deep and about twenty feet wide.

When we got to the Hazel creek trail we went South to campsite #83 which had about seven tents set up with fishermen everywhere. After taking a break we headed up to campsite #82 on Hazel Creek for the night which we enjoyed all alone. When we got to camp, there were five turkeys in camp heading up the hill side.

We enjoyed the campsite and creek while we ate dinner and took cough medicine. I did manage somehow to hear an owl over the noise of the creek sometime in the night. We left our tarps off and watched the stars.

Day Three:
After our fifteen mile day yesterday, we took it easy with an eight mile day today. We climbed the mountain and crossed Hazel Creek about a dozen times. The weather was warm and the creek felt good. Beautiful trail! There is a horse coral set up just before the trail turns from road bed to trail and the only bridge over Hazel Creek.

You really earn that last mile of trail going up to Welch Ridge. We set up camp the same place as our first night. Tonight the black bear came walking up towards our camp. We saw him about the same time as he saw us. He turned and ran back down the mountain.

During the night, I got woke up by Lora screaming my name. She had heard something walking just uphill from our hammocks. I guess it was as scared as I was, because I didn't see anything when I got up. We did get to listen to more owls after that.

Day Four:
We got up and continued our hike up Clingmans mountain. As we got close we started seeing hikers again and squirrels. We had not seen anyone except the fishermen since we left the AT. Beautiful hike.

Flowers we saw: Trillium; Red, Large flowered, Painted, Bent; Columbine, Foamflower, May apples, Anemone, Trout Lily, Blue Bead lily, Canada Mayflower, Mandarin Fairybells, Indian Cucumber root, Spring Beauty, Rattlesnake Plantain, Wild Geraniums, Bluets, Solomon Seal and False, Bellwort, Wild oats, Toothwort, Brook Lettuce, Squaw Root, Dutchmans Britches, Squirrel Corn, Dwarf Crested Iris, Violets: Pale white, Blue, Long spurred; Umbrella Leaf, Smooth Meadow Parsnip-purple and yellow, and a few different buttercups. Witch hazel was blooming and Mountain Laurel had started blooming.

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Friday, May 6, 2016

Nick's Graduation


Nick graduated from Carson Newman in Jefferson City, TN. We got to enjoy the day with him.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Joyce Kilmer TTA



Nancy and Gloria Dale planned a camping/hiking weekend at Joyce Kilmer. At the Rattler-Ford Campground (snakes???) group camp on the road going toward Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest in NC. I had to work Friday so I got there after suppertime. I got off work and couldn’t find my car keys; Craig had taken me to lunch and I sent my purse home with him after taking out my necessary things. Forgot my keys were in there L. My rescuer had to bring my keys to me, so I started out late. The drive from Tellico Plains to the campground was spectacular! The Cherohala Skyway shows off the beauty of the mountains. (Except for the teenager on the bridge spray painting her declaration of being there)The rest of the group had gotten to camp in time to hike the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest trail, set up camp, grill brats and were having dessert when I arrived. Lots of food and a birthday cake for Marietta! I set up my hammock and joined the party around the campfire, and thanks to Ewing we even had marshmallows to toast. Yumm!  Lots of stars out and a peaceful night sleeping by the creek, life is good.

Saturday 13 of us loaded up to hike to the Hangover, Ewing and his brother David, who had arrived late last night from Virginia, guarded the camp, a few more went hiking and exploring Robbinsville and the surrounding area. The 3 carloads of Hangover hikers drove the FS road to the Wolf Laurel trailhead. Short trail to Stratton Bald trail. After inspecting part of the Stratton trail, we turned around to go the right way, finding lots of wildflowers, red trilliums, Canada mayflower, violets, and as we climbed higher, the early spring flowers, trout lily, anemones, spring beauties, and flowering trees, silverbells, dogwoods, service berry, and flowering bushes, viburnum, and/or witch hobble, and hydrangea. And a few piles of bear scat, evidently that bear had eaten well! The Haoe Lead trail took us to Hangover Lead and the Hangover. Top notch lunch spot with a 360 view of mountain after mountain after mountain. The trail to the Hangover was clear, the first time I came here we had to push our way thru the overgrown bushes and trees. Glad to see it’s maintained. As we hiked back the thunder started and down came the rain and out came the raingear. The rain washed everything clean and made the green things greener. And it settled the dust on the FS road. Back at camp, plans were made to drive into Robbinsville for dinner. I had a little while to relax so I drove to JKMF to hike the loop the others had hiked yesterday. I remembered those huge trees from the trip Craig and I did in January four years ago and wanted to see them again. I met some folks at the trailhead asking about trails in the area so I gave them info about the hangover and how to get there. Two more folks asked me where I was from and knew about Bloody Bledsoe and the Sequatchie Valley. It’s a small world after all. The lower loop trail and a little bit of the upper was all I had time for to not miss dinner. It’s a different trail with the spring wildflowers showing off.
Dinner was at El Pacifico, good food, and all of us got our food piping hot, not sure how many servers got it on the table that fast. No beer or margaritas here, it’s a dry county. We can always make up for it at camp with the right cough medicine.  Got back to a rainy campground so everyone retreated to their tents to read. Or drink cough meds.

Sunday morning the birds singing woke us up. We packed up and parted ways, 3 left ahead of us to check out some overlooks along the Cherohala Skyway. 6 of us traveled together stopping at Hoopers Bald, where we hiked up to the pretty meadow on the bald. It would be cool to see the native azaleas in bloom, might have to come back in June. We drove on, stopped again at West Rattlesnake Rock trailhead (what’s with all the snake names???) This is a nice trail, lots more wildflowers. We hiked about a mile, then back to the cars. Another car pulled, driver got out and raised the hood, we asked if they needed help, he thought maybe water, and Betty just happened to have a gallon jug full. On to Bald River Falls, always pretty, but the previous night of rain made it spectacular! Then on to the Tellico Plains Visitors Center to shop. Just behind there is a neat eatery Tellicafe. Ran by some NY’ers serving some really good food. Nancy and I tried the trout cakes, and fried green tomatoes. Gloria Dale said her catfish was the best ever, Kathy said the Rueben sandwich had to be good made by a NYer. Betty and Joan raved about their food too. Offers of being hosed down out back if the napkins were not enough made a heehawing group of ladies. Right Nancy? We then went our separate ways with plans for a return trip to Rattler Ford Campground in October. On Monday a message from Nancy said if we had hiked further on the West Rattlesnake Rock trail there is a waterfall. Our book didn’t have this trail in it so we didn’t have descriptions; next time…..

What a wonderful weekend with old and new friends: Nancy, Gloria Dale, Thomas, Jerry Lynn, Marietta, Ewing, David, Sherlene, Jan, Julie, Kathy, Jackie, Kate, Betty, Sue, Joan, Alice, Joni.

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