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.


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.


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.


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.


Friday, May 6, 2016

Nick's Graduation

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