Shackleford Ridge Park Wednesday July 12, 2017 Thank you Sam Powell and Bill Fronk for the system of trails you created at Shackleford Ridge Park on Signal Mountain! You can find maps for the trails online and today we followed the map beginning at Noland School on the blue trail. It was cool enough in the forest on this summer day as we circled around to the spur trail to Mushroom Rock. Most of the hikers did take this 1.1 mile trail to the rock and back to then to resume on the blue trail. After crossing the swinging bridge, we made a left hand turn. When the yellow trail forked off this trail, we took the right fork and soon crossed over the covered bridge. Picking up the blue trail again, it was a short walk back to the cars. Many improvements are in evidence: lots of benches and bridges along the trail and newly built steps from the parking lot at the soccer fields down to the trail. Enjoying this morning only hike and on to Southern Star for lunch were: Patti Giles, Wayne Chambers, Boe Rudder, Suzanne Dorough, Linda Keown, Bill LaRouque, Cecile Shenouda, Bob Rahn, Jenny Hopper, Susan Basch, Renee Grace, Bailey Phillips, Hallie Fuller, Weston Carico, Ellie Carico, Emery Carico, Bill Kinnaman, Hank Konigsmark, Sue Christensen, Teresa Dean, Tom Weldon, Mac Dean, Edith Behringer, Jenny Hopkins, and Che Carico reporting.
Berry College, Saturday July 8, 2017 Thirteen hikers enjoyed the trails as well as historic sites and structures of Berry College near Rome, Georgia. Two options were offered for the climb to the highlight of Lavender Mountain--the House O’ Dreams, the mountaintop retreat built in 1922 for the founder of the college, Martha Berry. Those who chose the more difficult route were not disappointed. Who knew a climb to 900 feet above sea level could leave you breathless? All hikers met up at the summit to enjoy the lush gardens, beautiful vistas, and the nice facilities nicknamed the “Outhouse O’ Dreams”. After a snack break and a tour of the home, it was on to the mountain reservoir where all enjoyed having lunch besides the shores of the lake made possible by donations to the school from Henry Ford. The hike concluded at the Old Mill which is one of the most photographed spots on Berry’s 26,000 acres. After-hike refreshments at Jandy’s Yogurt helped to cool off everyone before the return trip to Chattanooga. Hikers included Diehl and Merry Boggs, Devin (a friend of the Boggs), Tim Chomyn, Shelly Claiborne, Edith Behringer, Susan Basch, Betsy Parson, Joyce Campbell, Steve Barnes, Lawana Pitts, and Greg and Barbara McCollum, leading.
Pictures at House ‘O Dreams and the Old Mill from Tim
Big Soddy Creek Gulf, Wednesday July 5, 2017 Weather had been iffy, but finally there appeared a window of opportunity in the radar and the hike was definitely on. Fifteen hikers set out from Big Soddy Creek Gulf off Back Valley Road, a recreation area owned by the City of Soddy-Daisy and enjoyed by many locals. The first leg of the hike was on the wide gravel path along Big Soddy Creek now full of water and tumbling over rocks after all the recent rain. Reaching Board Camp Creek, we followed it for a pleasant stretch, then found a few downed small trees to climb over before reaching the Cumberland Trail portion of the hike. The CT was much overgrown from recent rains, a few slippery rocks here and there kept one’s attention, and the humidity of the warm morning soaked in. Along the CT we saw vividly colored mushrooms and a spotted fawn on the move. We paused for a bit at Big Soddy Creek Bridge, the 100 ft suspension bridge completed in 2015, and then moved eagerly back to our starting point to enjoy lunch at a picnic table along Big Soddy Creek. (We had missed Che during the hike, and there was disappointment at the lack of chocolate also!) Despite all the recent rain which had enhanced the waterfall cascading along the Big Soddy Creek path, the characteristic greens and turquoises of the pools along Big Soddy and Board Camp Creeks were as beautiful as ever. No one decided to jump in for a swim however. As the last of the group were getting into their cars at the parking lot, a cool breeze blew in with dark clouds. Rain and thunderstorms moved in over the surrounding areas not long after we were on our way. Glad to have had a chance to hike during a break in the rainy weather were Susan Basch, Suzanne Dorough, Patti Giles, Bob Rahn, Wanda McCarter. Linda Keown, Susan Garrett, Kathy Seymour, Sue Christensen, Wendy Gunn, Lori Holland, Stormy McGauley, Shirley Wright, with Edith Behringer and Renee Grace leading.
Pictures from John
Little Hump, Big Hump on the AT in the Roan Highlands, Thursday June 29, 2017 We originally planned this expedition a week earlier, but a threat of thunderstorms caused us to cancel. But a few were doggedly determined to mark this one off their list, and the leader was in the mood for another visit, so we changed our motel reservations and went a week later. After a great dinner at Cootie Brown’s in Johnson City and a good night’s motel sleep, we wound our way along the convoluted drive to the still relatively obscure trailhead to begin our hike at the Overmountain Shelter, aka the Red Barn. There we met several backpackers, mostly from Indiana - one of them took a group picture for us; before the day was over we wondered who stayed home to mind the store in Indiana! Right off the bat we got a good taste of high country grassy bald hiking, climbing steeply with nary a switchback in sight; but we stopped a few times to look back at the Red Barn as it seemed to shrink down to the size of a postage stamp, and that encouraged us to think that we really were making progress. After some ridgeline hiking in the woods, we then reached Little Hump, our second grassy bald, and were soon at its highest point. There were great views in most directions, but the most impressive view was Big Hump looming ahead to the north. After descending through the woods, we came out into the clearing just above Bradley Gap at the base of Big Hump, where we could see the trail (still no switchbacks!) as it meandered toward the horizon. In the early part of the climb our spirits were boosted by a beautiful stem of Gray’s Lily, which grows only in the high country of that region. We resolutely plugged along, trying to ignore a couple of false summits, and again looking behind us to gauge our progress, until we finally did reach the top of Big Hump, with its magnificent 360-degree views. The grassy bald continues on northward, seemingly forever. After lunch and some lingering to soak up the experience, we returned the way we had come, enjoying the fact that it was mostly downhill now. A sighting of a little fawn in the woods just off the trail pretty much put the cap on a great hike. When the Red Barn came into view far below us, I decided to name that stretch “Our Victory Lap”! And then we celebrated with another dinner at Cootie Brown’s on the way home. Thanks to Merry and Diehl Boggs and Kathy Seymour for nudging me to lead it, and for nudging me several more times when I needed it along the trail; John Rowland reporting.
Roaring Creek Trail to Brush Creek, and lunch at Trish Appleton’s home, Wednesday June 28, 2017 The Chattanooga Hiking Club is blessed by opportunities to hike and reunite with former hikers in a social setting. Such was this day as we planned a short hike along Roaring Creek. Bypassing the upturn to Graysville Mountain and the continuing stretching of the Cumberland Trail, the hikers continued creek side to Brush Creek. You can ford Brush Creek and get a view of a lovely waterfall, but not today. The long line of hikers turned here and headed back to go hungrily to the home of Trish Appleton and the covered dish lunch planned. Great trees provided shade and a breeze came off the lake making a cool site for folding chairs, great food, and catching up. Especially welcomed was Val Hargis who packed up in a 5th Wheel with husband Carl 3 years ago to roam the US! So glad she was in Chattanooga for this reunion time on the lake with old hiking friends. Boe Rudder had begun his hike several hours earlier and went up the mountain to the first overlook on top of the mountain and back, rejoining Rough Creek in time to encourage the hikers now coming up the Rough Creek trail. Joyful for a great day, a great picnic site, and the great hospitality of Trish were: Alicia, Emery, Ellie and Weston Carico (Che's family), Mac Dean, Teresa Dean, Edith Behringer, Bill LaRoque, Susan Garrett, Stormy McGauley, Renee Grace, Susan Basch, Patti Giles, Shirley Wright, Tim (brownie man!!) Chomyn, Boe Rudder, Donald and Madelaine Box, Suzanne Dorough, Sue Christensen, Melba Smothers, Charlie Breeding, Doug Graydon (back on the trail!), Linda Keown, Val (5th Wheel) Hargis, and Che Carico reporting.
Buggy Top/Carter Cave, Wednesday June 21, 2017 Twelve hikers started out on this reported to be 2 miles in and 2 miles out trail near Sewanee. At the end, most agreed the longest 4 miles they had ever hiked! Upon hiking down to the Buggy Top (Carter Cave) entrance it was decided all (armed with flashlights) would enter the cave entrance, rock hop rather swift and somewhat deep water, and begin the accent up and through this section to the almost imperceptible light shining from above. Doing this added to the mileage. It was harder than remembered because it seemed lots of rocks had shifted and finding a clear path was difficult. The new to this experience hikers either said it was their FAVORITE trail and experience or glad they had done it but never again! One corn snake was found and played with by Renee and one rattlesnake was discovered on a ledge and carefully avoided. New plants spotted today were Witch Hazel and Wild Petunia. Another white flower is as not yet identified. Lots of fern fields today and a pretty trail with areas of difficult rock underfoot. As usual as you walked into the presence of Buggy Top it felt like an air conditioner had been turned on! On to lunch at Shenanigan's and then the outfitter store. Rain began to pour as these happy hikers started home: Renee Grace, Wayne Chambers, Bob Rahn, Cecile Shenouda, Susan Garrett, Linda Keown, Sue Christensen, Tom Carter, Boe Rudder, Stormy McGauley, Susan Basch and Che Carico reporting.
Picture from Che
Falling Water Falls and McCoy Farm, Wednesday June 14, 2017 So, it is summer now and finally the humidity is a factor as well as the higher temps. This led to the choice of a morning only hike and yet 25 hikers came out to trek it!! The maps online get better all the time, so you can find a pretty clear route to Mabbit Springs and then on to the falls. Louis was in the lead and peacefully sitting on a rock near the top of the falls by the time the end of the line got there! He and Susan led a portion of the group down and across the creek bed above the falls, up the other side, and on out the short distance to another trail head on Forest Park Drive. Wayne and Susan had fond memories of hiking into the falls from this side as children. All hiked out safely then splintered into different groups - some home, some to cool restaurant lunch, but most drove the short distance to the McCoy Farm at the top of the W Road. This old homestead has been entrusted to the Town of Walden and has been reclaimed by hardworking citizens bringing it to family recreation status. Sam Powell engineered the swinging bridge that crosses over a wetlands he so desperately wanted to protect, the Lions Club is rebuilding the blacksmith's shop and someone was working there today, Larry Mick was putting fresh paint on the pump house, and the gardens created by Master Gardeners were beautiful! This is only a "tich" of the volunteer efforts given to create this lovely venue. You can find the history of this property and family online. The McCoy Farm is open dawn to dusk and free for use by all; the property can also be rented for special events. Enjoying a nice hike and lunch somewhere were: Wayne Chambers, Susan Garrett, Debbie Lambert, Edie Behringer, Susan Basch, Freda Richie, Patti Giles, Cecile Shenouda, Linda McKeown, Charlie Breeding, Bob Rahn, Sue Christensen, Suzanne Dorough, Jenny Chandler, Teresa Dean, Mac Dean, Louis Spencer, Anne Dean, Rachel Bryant, Diehl Boggs, Merry Boggs, Connie Young, Renee Grace, Stormy McGauley, and Che Carico, reporting.
Pictures from Teresa
Possum Creek Trail, Imodium Falls, Saturday June 10, 2017 A group of five hikers conquered the Janet M Hale Trail (aka Possum Creek Trail). Weather was perfect. The trail was 10.2 miles and we completed it in 4 ½ hours including a lunch break. We did not set out to hike quickly, but we were all lost in conversations and forgot the pace of our hiking. This hike is a car shuttle hike. I believe this hike is as beautiful as many of the Smoky Mountain hikes. The landscape changes at least five times during the hike. We crossed several bridges, one water crossing, a pine tree section, rocky section, and Imodium Falls. We did come across a large black snake. On the way back to pick up a car at the start of the trail, we came across a large black bear on the side of the road. We are all glad to be in our car. I am always amazed that this trail is in our backyard. Hikers today were: Joyce Campbell, Steven Miller, and Rick Glisson, and Diehl and Merry Boggs, reporting.
Picture from Merry
Chilhowee Mountain: Azalea, Red Leaf, Slick Rock trails, and Benton Falls, Wednesday June 7, 2017 Since the flame azaleas were so brilliant on Jenkins Ridge trail, we went in search of them on Chilhowee Mountain. Only a few were spotted, mountain laurel was fading, while a few rhododendrons were fresh. The route we took was different from previous hikes in this beautiful park and campground. It also left lots of room for choosing your own distance. Some chose to include the Slick Rock trail, others hiked on down to the falls then out, and at least one hiked out and around the lovely lake. Water was running fast in all creeks and it was observed that the falls had more water than ever seen before. The air was so clear that the overlooks were amazing at the pull offs on the way up and on the way down the mountain. The joy of leading hikes comes from the new hikers and their joy. Such was today as in this familiar area we still had new hikers! Inspired by Renee and her yoga routine on the big rock at the top of Benton Falls were: Bill Needham, Sue Christensen, Kathy Seymour, Wayne Chambers, Suzanne Dorough, Edie Behringer, Susan Basch, Bob Rahn, Patti Giles, Sandy Fenton (appearing fully restored after her auto accident), Shirley Wright, and Che Carico reporting.
Hiwassee River area work day, Saturday June 3, 2017 The CHC and a number of other regional clubs participated in the National Trails Day event sponsored by the Ocoee/Hiwassee Ranger District. More than 20 maintainers participated in the effort on a warm but pleasant day. The work focused on brushing out the Fisherman’s trail on the southern bank of the Hiwassee River. The trail was overgrown but there was plenty of shade as well as the refreshing sound of the stream flowing nearby. The USFS did a fine job of planning and the team completed cutting and clearing nearly a mile and a half of trail. After the work was finished the Rangers provided adeluxe cookout at the Quinn Springs Recreation Area. CHC participants included Bill Kinnaman, J.D. Dickinson, Ralph Van Pelt and Steve Barnes, reporting.
Eagle Creek, Spence Field, Jenkins Ridge backpack, Thursday-Saturday June 1-3, 2017 The weather a week before this hike experience was gloomy with rain and thunderstorms for sure in the forecast. The two days of hiking, however, turned out to be cool enough for summer days and rain free! Steve Claxton met us at Cable Cove for transport across the lake to the Eagle Creek trailhead. Eagle Creek started out fairly level but with 18 swift and calf-to- knee depth crossings in the first 4.9 miles. So, lots of energy spent staying upright and dry in the crossings. Lunch was refreshing at campsite 97 in an island setting with lots of logs for seating. Then the remaining 4 miles began unrelenting uphill! The stronger hikers seemed not to mind and reached the water source for Spence Field at least an hour and a half before this first-time backpacker! What a joy to finally reach this point, 0.1 miles from my sleeping quarters! Packs were emptied, "beds made", dinner served, and a fire built. We all settled in after enjoying the fire for a while, listening to tall tales, and toasts and singing. Next day after breakfast and breaking camp this line of 11 hikers started the short uphill access to the AT and then Jenkins Ridge which was "downhill all the way". Right! Downhill along narrow trail overgrown with tall blackberry vines (two hikers slipped off the trail several feet because so narrow and could not see where to plant next step), steep uphill short distance, steep downhill, short uphill quite steep again, a brief leveling then a long downhill (so steep you had to plant your poles out front to put on your brakes) which finally bottomed out. As all regrouped at the junction with Hazel Creek trail, many stretched out on picnic tables and all said, "toughest two trails ever hiked back to back", and, "I'll never do that Stinking Jenkins trail again!" (But an unexpected blessing for Stinking Jenkins were the rhododendrons blooming on the bald as the trail began and the brilliant flame azaleas along the trail. The bald reminded us of Gregory Bald.) From here we still had 4 roadbed miles to go to reach the site of our ride back across Fontana Lake to Cable Cove. New backpackers and experienced ones included: John Hyler, Rick Glisson, Barbara McCollum, Betsy Parson, Bonnie Smith, Monty Simmons, Carolyn Brannon, Cathy Love, Terri Holcomb, Che Carico reporting and Wayne Chambers leading. Thanks to Monty Simmons for carrying my pack AND his at least 4 miles when I developed a muscle spasm on the downhill of Jenkins Ridge and could not stand upright to hike out. Then, as my pack weight had been distributed to hikers waiting at campsite 84, they rounded up a cart and Wayne and Terri pulled me down the 4 miles of Hazel Creek roadbed to the edge of the lake! Carolyn diagnosed my hard-as-a-rock lower left back muscle spasm, Terri and Cathy shared water and electrolytes, and the others expressed great concern for the situation all the while carrying parts of my gear in order to relieve Monty of the full burden. Never will I forget and never can I thank them enough! Che
Pictures from Barbara
Ochs Gateway to Skyuka Springs to Kiddie Trail trailhead, Wednesday May 31, 2017 It was a good day to take this route previously suggested by Charlotte McNabb. Coming from the Gateway, instead of turning right and heading toward Sunset Rock, we turned left and proceeded gently downhill to Skyuka Springs - well marked to the Springs at the end of the Lower Truck trail and a better sign now indicating the Skyuka Springs trail back to highway. Summer flowers included spider wort, lots of ferns, coreopsis, and ever faithful bluets. The Springs had more water than noted on previous hikes passing by. A brief snack rest here then onto the Lower Truck trail to trek on out. A group stopped and lingered at lunch at the gazebo where a brown thrasher nervously tried to deliver food to her babies in a nest box hanging there. Others went on with the mission of retrieving cars from Ochs Gateway and lunch at the Purple Daisy. The Gazebo lunch group did also take time to circle around to the wildlife preserve. The endangered and protected Red Wolves were up and roaming to the delight of those who had not visited this compound before. It was a good day enjoyed by: Barry Ligon, Beverly Ligon, Bob Rahn, Linda Keown, Merry Boggs and Diehl Boggs who extended their hike by starting up the Kiddie Trail and meeting us at the springs, Patti Giles, Susan Garrett, Suzanne Dorough, Teres Dean, Wanda McCarter, Wayne Chambers, Wendy Gunn, Susan Basch, Barbara Miller, Boe Rudder, and Che Carico reporting.
Foster Falls, Wednesday May 17, 2017 The trail chosen for today's hike was the new Denny Cove trail on the mountain near Foster Falls. Thanks to Bob Butters we were warned that the trail is currently still closed during the week - open now only on weekends. The road leading to this trail is only a mile from the Foster Falls State Park and that became plan B. We had already planned to go there after the Denny Cove hike to have a picnic birthday lunch to celebrate Ray Myers 85th and friends old and new! This area offered options for everyone - some hiked the entire Climber's Loop, circling back along the rim while others took the first exit of the Climber's Loop and circled back to the trail head along the rim. Everyone made the trip down to the water falls which were running with lots of water. There were reports of wildflowers blooming along the trail, ferns, and no snakes (one snakeskin) were reported. Remember if you go, the trail will be rough with rocks and roots down in the Climber's Loop with easier walking along the rim. The falls are splendid and worth the trip down. The tables were laden with great food! New hikers were pleased to meet Ray and he was pleased to see how easy it was to become friends with the new hikers. Lots of long time hungry hikers also enjoyed watching Ray blow out the one candle on his cake! Planning to come again when the new trail is open during the week: Ray Myers, Donald Box, Madelaine Box, Jenny Hopkins, Susan Garrett, Stormy McGauley, Karen Rahn, Bob Rahn, Linda Keown, Sue Christensen, Renee Grace, Larry Parks, Shirley Wright, Tom Carter, Betsy Parson, Gary Petty, Bill Kinnaman, Jean Dickinson, Bill LaRoque, Edith Behringer, Patti Giles, Trish Appleton, Mary Ann Langevin, and Che Carico reporting.
Pictures from Ray
Picture from Tim
Smokies, several trails around Cherokee, Friday-Saturday May 12-13, 2017 It’s not always about the hiking—sometimes it’s about the camaraderie, socializing, flora and fauna, and last, but not least—eating. All were accomplished on this trip to the Smokies. Nine hikers met up in Smokemont early Friday afternoon and quickly conquered two short trails before the rain—the Benton MacKaye Connector and Tow String. A picnic lunch was at the parking area near the historic Smokemont Baptist Church and then it was off to the trails. Hiking some or all of these trails were Betsy Parson, Boe Rudder, Carolyn Brannon, Che Carico, Joyce Campbell, Monty Simmons, Rick Glisson, Greg McCollum, and Barbara McCollum. Lloyd’s on the River was our overnight accommodations, a new selection for the club. Dinner was at Pasqualino’s Italian in Bryson City, a longstanding favorite of the club. Ken Smith, Tim Chomyn, and Shelly Claiborne joined the group for dinner. A walk around Bryson City after dinner in search of ice cream was fruitless. It was back to the hotel and some socializing on the rocking chair porch and a nice view of the river. Breakfast on Saturday morning was in Cherokee at Peter’s Pancakes (another club favorite). The group of 12, waiting on the arrival of three more hikers driving on Saturday morning, enjoyed “backpacker pancakes” as well as other breakfast delights. A car shuttle was placed in Smokemont for some of the hikers who chose to hike an additional 8 miles from the advertised route. A little drizzle on Saturday morning didn’t dampen our spirits as we drove into Round Bottom to start the day’s hike. After the obligatory group photos, the four hikers who were hiking 16+ miles set off while the remaining 12 hikers followed close behind. Hiking Beech Gap II, Hyatt Ridge (campsite 44 included) Enloe Creek, Chasteen Creek, and some of Bradley Forks were Ken Smith, Tim Chomyn, Rick Glisson, and Shelly Claiborne. Hiking the 8 miles of Beech Gap II and Hyatt Ridge including campsite 44 were: Ashley Miller, Betsy Parson, Boe Rudder, Carolyn Brannon, Che Carico, Greg McCollum, Barbara McCollum, Jameson Miller, Joyce Campbell, Lora McBride, Monty Simmons, and Bonnie Smith. The trails were lush and green from the previous night’s rain. A most abundant display of False Solomon’s Seal on Beech Gap II was spectacular. The spotting of a rare Painted Trillium on Hyatt Ridge was exciting, and a young grove of approximately 30 American Chestnut trees on Beech Gap II was spotted by Boe. Thanks to all for another great trip to the Smokies and for welcoming and supporting the rookie hiker. Thanks also to those who helped with the shuttle and for those who supported Che, who was nursing an injury, but was determined to hike these trails. Barbara McCollum, reporting.
The 8-milers from Tim
The 12-milers from Tim
The tree climbers from Rick Glisson
Cumberland Trail, Boston Branch, Wednesday May 10, 2017 15 hikers started out on the Upper Hogskin Loop toward Boston Branch Overlook and an intersection with Stevenson Branch Trail. The trail goes through an old coal mining area. We passed through the remains of a coal tipple and past the start of a mine. Just beyond that was a major challenge. A large swarm of yellow jackets was guarding the trail. Fortunately, there was a way around them up against the cliff wall. We continued on to the Boston Branch Overlook with its spectacular views. The stairs and ramp just past the overlook have been rebuilt and are much better than before. Climbing the stairs brought us to an old roadbed. We followed that for about a mile. In the section where the abandoned mining equipment was stacked Charlie got a nice surprise from a bunch of snakes. He quickly moved back to the trail. We continued on to where the trail crossed a large branch. A tree had fallen across the cable guides and most did not attempt to cross. A small group (Stormy, Bill and Susan) explored the proposed new section that will connect with Montlake. The distance to that point is about 3.2 miles. We ate lunch there near a small waterfall. The return trip was uneventful other than Stormy walking me into the ground. We took the Lower Hogskin Loop on the return trip. It was a beautiful day for a hike but was the first really hot day of the season. Hikers were Betsy Parson, Bill LaRoque, Bill Needham, Bob Rahn, Carla Schunk, Charlie Breeding, Edith Behringer, Linda Keown, Mary Ann Langevin, Stormy McGauley, Susan Garrett, Suzanne Dorough, Allen Dance, Wanda McCarter, and Boe Rudder reporting.
Fisherman Bob picture from Allen Dance
Black Mountain, Wednesday May 3, 2017 A web comment about this section of the Cumberland Trail is that "it is a beast!" Maybe so with some uneven ground and quite an uphill haul from Windless Cave to the top, but the trip is well worth it! The flowers are always splendid and the new access trail to Windless Cave is beautifully laid out and easy to follow. By following the white blazes, you will find yourself starting the uphill trek, passing through huge boulders typical for the Cumberland Plateau, and emerging on top. Continue following the white blazes and bear right, continuing on the blazed trail to find the boulders and overlook for lunch and rest. There is a loop (1.5 miles) on the mountain top which can be accessed by driving up. This makes an easy trip for those not wanting the long hike from below. Noted today were yellow trillium, larkspur, wood sorrell, star chickweed, fire pink, very tall may apples with huge white blooms, and our beloved pink lady slippers! It was home via Frazier's Produce in Sale Creek where the owners had set aside flats of freshly picked strawberries - we had called ahead to reserve. Feeling good about a sunshiny day and breezes that lessened the effects of a forecast of 80+ high were: Wayne Chambers, Susan Garrett, Tim Chomyn, Bill LaRoque, Bob Rahn, Wanda McCarter, Boe Rudder, Diehl Boggs, Teresa Dean, Mac Dean, Larry Parks (back on the trail after knee surgery), Suzanne Dorough, Edith Behringer, Stormy McGauley, Mary Ann Langevin, and Che Carico, reporting.
Horsepound Falls Wildflower Hike, Saturday April 29, 2017 It was as beautiful day for this hike, sunny, warm, but with a welcome cooling wind (occasionally). This was a new hike for all but the leader. After visiting the overlook at the Collins West campground, we began the rocky descent down to Suter Falls (full due to the very heavy recent rains, and brilliant in the morning sunlight). Crossing the unique foot bridge (2 metal ladders joined together with a “one person limit”) in front of the falls we began the rocky climb and then lengthy stretch (a quarter of a mile?) of large rocks along the hillside. Finally, we began descending on a much easier trail, working our way down and eventually reaching Horsepound Falls, our lunch destination. Viewing blooming wildflowers was the reason for this hike. However, the combination of the unusual spring and the lateness of this April hike resulted in a disappointing number and density of wildflowers. We only identified 20-25 (plus a few we failed to identify). 35-40 have been identified in previous years. Horsepound Falls also was very full and forceful. An amazing 3’ tall rock stack had been built at the edge of the river using probably 50-60 various sized and shaped rocks. (It must have taken a lot of time and patience to build this stable stack that resisted the force of the wind coming down the river.) Following an enjoyable lunch, we began the climb back up to “that rugged, rocky stretch” and eventually to our cars. One of our experienced hikers commented, “That was the most beautiful lunch spot of any hike I have been on.” Enjoying the day, the outing, the experience, and the fellowship were Susan Basch, Edie Behringer, Teresa & Mac Dean, and Donald Box, reporting.
Pictures from Donald
Picture from Teresa
Shake Rag Hollow and Natural Bridge, Wednesday April 26, 2017 The Shake Rag Hollow is famous for spring flowers and the site for guided wildflower walks. You would have to go once a week during the month of April to catch all the flowers there as their blooming times are staggered. As we went down into the gorge from the stone gate entrance to Sewanee and on the perimeter trail, we began to see evidence of a massive white trillium bloom. They were spent today, however. We found other beauties to take their place: larkspur, jacks, lots of lavender phaecelia, vassey trillium, lots of May apples with their white blossoms hanging under their umbrella leaves, star chickweed, and 3 pink lady slippers!!! Water was falling swiftly from the bluff above in the creeks which had bridges or enough rocks to hop. The climb out onto the Beckwith trail at the Greens View end is steep and has big boulder steps. Going out this way, however, allowed us to loop back to the cars along the Beckwith trail. Lunch was leisurely enjoyed at the Natural Bridge (from 41A go left on 56 and watch for signs). Enjoying Jenny Hopkins oatmeal apricot cookies and the beauty of the area were: Susan Garrett, Mac Dean, Teresa Dean, Allen Dance, Linda Keown, Bill Kinnaman, Jean Dickinson, Bob Rahn, Tom Carter, Susan Basch, Barry Ligon, Beverly Ligon, Edith Behringer, Nancy Hoover, Hank Konigsmark, Wayne Chambers, and Che Carico, reporting.
Pictures from JD
Smokies Cataloochee area, Friday-Sunday April 21-23, 2017 Another trip to the Great Smoky Mountains was successful for 15 members of the club and one guest from the Over the Hill Hiking Group (OHHG) of Decatur, Georgia. The trip included day hiking, backpacking, wildflowers, historical structures, cemeteries, stream crossings, socializing, dining, and fun for all! Friday’s 11-mile hike involved a complicated shuttle between Mt. Sterling Gap and Pretty Hollow Gap in Cataloochee, but an overnight stay on Thursday in Newport, Tennessee helped with the early morning shuttle and the 9:00 a.m. start time was accomplished. Friday’s hike started with a 400-foot climb out of Mt. Sterling Gap to the Long Bunk trail. Along the descent, the Long Bunk trail was a spectacular display of wildflowers. From Trillium to Nodding Mandarin, it was a botanical delight. At the intersection of Long Bunk and Little Cataloochee, the map markers were intent on completing that 1 mile section to Mt. Sterling Road while others headed on to the Little Cataloochee Baptist Church for lunch. Afterwards, it was up hill on the Little Cataloochee trail before descending into Pretty Hollow Gap. The fast hikers were able to help with the after-hike shuttle. Nonshuttle hikers enjoyed hanging out in the Beech Grove School (circa 1901), built along the banks of Palmer Creek, during a rain shower while waiting for the shuttle cars to arrive. Enjoying the trails and historical sites in Little Cataloochee Valley were Angela Evans, Betsy Parson, Bill Needham, Boe Rudder, Bonnie Smith, Che Carico, John Hyler, Monty Simmons, Rick Glisson, Sonja Parker, Tim Chomyn, Tom Long, Tom Sewell (OHHG), Wayne Chambers, and Barbara McCollum. Historical sites along the trails included Hannah Cemetery, Hannah Cabin, Dan Cook Cabin, and the Little Cataloochee Baptist Church and cemetery. Seven hikers spent Friday night in Maggie Valley and started Saturday morning with a delicious breakfast at Joey’s Pancake House voted “Best Pancake House in North Carolina.” Saturday’s hike started at Beech Gap I at Round Bottom. It was a 2,000 foot climb to the Balsam Mountain trail and on to the Laurel Gap Shelter for lunch. Three club backpackers (Bonnie Smith, Ken Smith, and Barbara McCollum) claimed their spot in the shelter before continuing on in pursuit of the 11.6 miles in and out on the Balsam Mountain Trail. Four day hikers (Che Carico, Tim Chomyn, Betsy Parson, and Monty Simmons) continued on to the Mt. Sterling Ridge Trail and descended into Cataloochee on the Pretty Hollow Gap Trail which also provided a spectacular showing of wildflowers including a most abundant display of Stone Crop. (From Che: Star chickweed, spring beauty and trout lilies blooming as far into the forest as the eye could see. Also spotted about 100 feet up the Beech Gap trail were at least 5 painted trillium. There were "patches" of dutchman's britches and squirrel corn larger than any of us had ever seen! Breathtaking beauty!!!) Day hikers ended the day with 14+ miles, a nice dinner in Maggie Valley, and retrieval of the other shuttle car at Round Bottom. All day hikers were pleased to mark off 3 more trails despite a late-night return home. A deluge of rain on Saturday night made for a cozy night in the Laurel Gap Shelter along with 8 others including a well-behaved Boy Scout troop from Asheville, NC. Saturday’s mileage for the backpackers was 16+ miles. Rain continued on Sunday morning for a soggy return to Pretty Hollow Gap via Mount Sterling Ridge trail. Four stream crossings didn’t deter the backpackers and a few more marked trails equals happy hikers. The two hikers who hiked all three days (Bonnie Smith and Barbara McCollum) racked up 36 miles while the Friday and Saturday day hikers racked up 25+ miles and Ken Smith, the backpacker, hiked 26 miles. Special thanks to Tom Long for formulating Friday's shuttle plan and to all drivers (Angela Evans, Che Carico, Tim Chomyn, Tom Long, Tom Sewell, and Bonnie Smith) who helped to make another successful trip to the Smokies. Barbara McCollum, reporting.
Pictures from Barbara and Tim
Lula Lake work day and hike, Wednesday April 19, 2017 We met Ronnie Hilburn at the Lula Lake work shed, then piled into the fewest vehicles possible and crossed the road to the site of a new trail system that will connect the Lula Lake property to Covenant College. Armed with loppers and clippers we vigorously attacked the many exposed large roots in the trail. We made considerable progress over a couple of hours, then as planned, we switched over to hiking the rest of the loop, being treated to the sight of many beautiful pink wild azaleas along the way. Most of us then adjourned to Café on the Corner on Lookout Mountain for lunch, and enjoyed a most pleasant reunion with Richard Park. Thanks for all their hard work to Barbara Miller, Betsy Parson, Bill Kinnaman, Bob Rahn, Jenny Hopkins, Linda Keown, Mac Dean, Teresa Dean, Renee Grace, Patti Giles, Wanda McCarter, and Che Carico. John Rowland reporting.
Frozen Head State Park, Wednesday April 12, 2017 The hikers who came out today had never been to Frozen Head or it had been a very long time. The park is beautiful with immaculate campsites, the parking for which would accommodate long RVs as well as tents. After checking in at the ranger station and enjoying their "comfort" facilities we started out following Don Deakins from the Flat Fork trail head with Ross Gap as the first destination. The reputation for the uphill trek was proven true as we did indeed go uphill about 3.5 miles before finding a restful lunch spot beside an old mining retention pond. There were cattails growing in the water near the banks and fish of all sizes swimming lazily! Yes there was a bit more climbing ahead, along with downhill pitches along the ridge top - not so steep and not so long - until we came to the trail split and the relentless downhill stretch of the Bird Mountain trail back to the parking area. Features along the ridge top were high elevation (3100 feet) views of the surrounding mountains, Mushroom Rock, interesting but typical Cumberland Plateau rock formations as well as many wildflowers: Blood Root, Anemone, Hepatica, Star Chickweed, White and Yellow Trillium and Spring Beauty. Feeling quite accomplished for having hiked this infamous Frozen Head portion of the CT were: Bob Rahn, Edie Behringer, Susan Garrett, Charlie Breeding, Boe Rudder, Betsy Parson, Renee Grace, Barbara McCollum, Terri Holcomb, Wendy Gunn, Delores Ladd, Che Carico reporting, and Don Deakins leading.
Wolf Creek, Saturday April 1, 2017 A few hikers met on a spring-like morning and proceeded to Cherokee National Forest. Once there we wound our way up the Ocoee Gorge, turned at the bridge to the No. 3 powerhouse, and then on uphill via FS45. The upper roads make for a winding ride to the Wolf Creek trailhead. There were a few campers alongside the road at Big Creek. After slipping on our boots and looking at the now expired wildfire information in the signboard we climbed the first uphill section where we often do trail maintenance. This section looked good except for several blowdowns that Bill and JD elected to saw and remove. We proceeded up the ridge and occasionally stopped to enjoy the distant views from this scenic trail. The day was sunny with very few clouds in the sky and the temperature was mild with an occasional breeze. We stopped at the Junction with the Chestnut Mtn. trail and enjoyed a brief snack before proceeding back downhill. Bill and JD had made good progress on the branch removal and they joined in on the rest of the downhill trek. We drove back downwards and along the gorge where water was diverted from generation and released from the dam to provide for whitewater for rafters and kayakers downstream of the dam and through the 1996 Olympic whitewater course. Those enjoying the refreshing weather and sublime views were Jean Dickinson, Bill Kinnaman, Kathy Seymour, Boe Rudder and Steve Barnes, reporting.
Smokies Forney Ridge, Springhouse Branch, Noland Creek, Saturday April 1, 2017 Sixteen hikers enjoyed a picture perfect day in the Smokies. From the Ooltewah departure, to the prehike shuttle preparations and meetup at Clingmans Dome, everything went as planned. It was a foggy start on the newly-reopened Clingmans Dome Road, but the nearer we drove to the top, the more brilliant the sky became which served as a warm welcome to the highest point in the Smokies. Tom, Diehl, Merry, Bonnie, and Ken were instrumental in setting up a successful shuttle by meeting earlier in the day at the Noland Creek trailhead. Temperatures were in the low 40’s when 15 hikers began the descent on the Forney Ridge trail while reliable Sherpa Tom returned to Noland Creek to hike in and meet the group. A quick stop at Andrews Bald, one of two maintained balds in the park, provided a beautiful spot for a group photo. After leaving Andrews Bald, the trail became a bit eroded and rocky for about a half mile. A sunny section of the Forney Ridge Trail was selected for lunch before continuing on to the Springhouse Branch trail. The further we descended the more wildflowers we saw. From Trout Lily to Robin’s Plantain, the hike leader kept a list of all sixteen wildflowers identified by the group. At the Springhouse Branch and Noland Creek junction, everyone (including Sherpa Tom) enjoyed a nice break at the campground picnic tables before tackling the final 4.1 miles. Both Springhouse Branch and Noland Creek were abundantly flowing with all the recent rain. The hike concluded an hour ahead of schedule and everyone loaded up in the four vehicles to begin the long drive back to Clingmans Dome. It was a little cool and windy at Clingmans Dome, but everyone was happy to have accomplished 12.5 miles with over 4,000 feet in elevation descent and be headed for home before dark. We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Special thanks to Tom Long, Diehl and Merry Boggs, Ken Smith, and Bonnie Smith for their help in setting up the shuttle. Newcomers Jenny Hopkins and Shelly Claiborne learned about shuttle hikes while Betsy Parson, Bill Needham, Boe Rudder, Che Carico, John Rowland, Joyce Campbell, Monty Simmons, and Terri Holcomb were happy to be back in the Smokies. My heartfelt thanks to everyone for your patience and cooperation in helping to make a very enjoyable day on the trail. Barbara McCollum, reporting.
Pictures from Barbara
Walls of Jericho, Wednesday March 29, 2017 Although many long time club hikers may say upon completion of this hike, "that was my last time to hike this trail!", they do line up and go again! It is so hard to resist the lure of this 3.5 mile downhill trek, then 3.5 mile uphill trek and the beautiful woodland filled with bluebells near midpoint. Always fearful of missing their peak, not so this year and several new to the trail hikers were awed. After enjoying the blue hue of the prettily blooming flowers, the trail leads one across a log bridge over Hurricane Creek and on to the Turkey Creek rock hopping/wading crossing. The trail dead ends in a canyon with cascading water and waterfalls. Getting to the most hidden waterfall requires some careful climbing up to a level above the lunch site. Hikers today did just that and found the water in the pool below the most remote waterfall to be at a record fill point. Lunch was leisurely in the sunshine with water roaring loudly enough to make conversation difficult. Then began the trek back passing again Blood Root, Anemone, Trillium, Spring Beauty, Trout Lily, Bluebells, Twin Leaf not yet blooming, Stone Crop, Hepatica and Wild Geranium. A long drive but safely home were: Patti Giles, Sonja Parker, Bob Rahn, Wanda McCarter, Barbara McCollum, Angela Davis, Suzanne Dorough, Kathy Seymour, Renee Grace, Susan Basch, Bob Butters, Boe Rudder, Mac Dean, Teresa Dean, Linda Keown, Bill Needham, Susan Garrett, Barbara Miller, Terri Holcomb, Janice Carter, Gayle Monk, Diehl Boggs, Merry Boggs, Che Carico reporting, and John Rowland leading.
Picture from John
Picture from Bob Butters
Piney River, Wednesday March 22, 2017 This is a favorite trail for Chattanooga hikers as it is fairly gentle underfoot, features either Duskin Creek or the Piney River all along the way, and usually has an amazing variety of wildflowers blooming. The flowers had not emerged so much but we saw one or two of many: white trillium, spring beauty, trout lily, star chickweed, blood root, anemone, yellow buckeye, hepatica, and wild geranium. The Shut In Gap Road to the Duskin Creek trail head is often so rutted that it is hazardous - likely for cars to bottom out. So we first checked out the route to Newby Camp with the idea of beginning there. From here Shut In Gap road appeared to be in good shape and we decided to give it a try and had an easy time getting to Duskin Creek after all. Lunch was at Log Camp with ample seating by the river. The biggest obstacle was the McDonald Branch crossing. There was not a lot of water, but it was running fast and enough to make the rocks very slippery. This made crossing tense and many looked up and down the branch hoping to find a safer way to cross. I wonder how many finally just stepped into the water? I know I did! Enjoying this glorious day were: Boe Rudder, Susan Basch, Suzanne Dorough, Wanda McCarter, Bill Needham, Bill Kinnaman, Bill LaRoque, Charlie Breeding, Bob Rahn, Mac Dean, Teresa Dean, Patti Giles, Renee Grace, Stormy McGauley, Susan Garrett, Wayne Chambers, Karen Ramsey, Kathy Seymour, and Che Carico, reporting.
Smokies Big Creek, Friday March 17, 2017 The choice of trails for today was Long Bunk and Little Cataloochee with a car shuttle CAREFULLY thought out. However, the element of change was the snow and ice on the road into Cataloochee. We got an early start only to be stopped by a closed and locked gate blocking our way to the trails. A phone call to a ranger confirmed no one was on the way to unlock! Big Creek trail won the toss as plan B so back down the hard-packed dirt road we went to its trail head. The creek and its wild water stayed with us as we walked this gentle uphill trail for 5.6 miles to the junction with Low Gap. Yes, it was cold and yes, there was snow and ice in places on the trail. Even so yellow trillium were blooming. Ending the day sitting on the fence to chat briefly before heading home, and enjoying Tim's famous amaretto brownies were: Monty Simmons, Joyce Campbell, Tom Long, Betsy Parson, Bonnie Smith, Boe Rudder, Tim Chomyn, Bill Needham, Che Carico reporting, and Wayne Chambers and Barbara McCollum leading.
Pictures from Tim
Fiery Gizzard Loop, Wednesday March 15, 2017 We would have loved to see a little snow, but we mostly went this time hoping for the large icicles that are so common here in winter. But with the mild temps we had in the days leading up to the hike, forget it! There were several puny little foot-long samples, but none of the big ones, and none of the icicle walls that form alongside the creek in spots. But there was plenty of water flowing, Sycamore Falls and all the cascades in the creeks were going strong, it was a beautiful day (although 21 degrees when we started!), and most of us topped off the day with lunch at Papa Ron’s in Monteagle. So another enjoyable visit to one of our favorite spots for Betsy Parson, Bill Needham, Bob Rahn, Charlie Breeding, Boe Rudder, Che Carico, Diehl Boggs, Merry Boggs, Edith Behringer, Renee Grace, Susan Garrett, Susan Basch, Katy Kirkpatrick, Thomas Kirkpatrick, Sydney Kirkpatrick, Sadie Hobbs, and John Rowland leading and reporting.
Pine Mountain Car Camp, Friday-Sunday March 10-12, 2017 Nestled in west central Georgia, the 23-mile Pine Mountain Trail follows the Pine Mountain ridge made famous by President Roosevelt and is partially located in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt State Park. The trail runs east/west between Warm Springs, Georgia and the Callaway Gardens Country Store. The trail is perfect for day hiking with many loop options, backpacking, or a one-day 23 miler if so inclined. A group of eight hikers met Friday for lunch at the Whistling Pig Barbecue in Pine Mountain, Georgia, which had been recommended by trail maintainers (the Pine Mountain Trail Association.) After setting up camp, a five-mile hike was enjoyed Friday afternoon by a couple of hikers while others enjoyed a drive into Warm Springs to see the town made famous by FDR. Everyone contributed to Friday night’s meal which included two kinds of chili with all the fixings, spinach dip, fruit salad, brownies, and blueberry pineapple crunch. A warm glowing fire was enjoyed Friday night before turning in early in anticipation of an early start for those attempting the 23 miles in one day. Highlights of the trail included several small waterfalls near Warm Springs, Dowdell Knob (FDR’s favorite picnic spot), lunch at Mollyhugger Hill, Buzzard’s Roost, and finally dinner on Saturday night at the Callaway Gardens Country Store after everyone finished hiking. Completing the 23 miles in on day were Tim, Terri, Bonnie, and Barbara. Helen completed the 23 miles in 2 days while Angela hiked 13 miles of the most scenic portions, and Tom enjoyed hiking and providing his famous Sherpa services. Ron enjoyed a little fishing and kayaking in Delano Lake. A little rain on Saturday night cut the trip short for a few, but several stayed over for a rainy night in Georgia. A great trip to this beautiful and historical area of Georgia was enjoyed by all: Tim Chomyn, Tom Long, Ron and Helen Owens, Terri Holcomb, Bonnie Smith, Angela Evans, and Barbara McCollum reporting.
Pictures from Barbara
Clear Creek, Rim Rock, Benton Falls, and Clemmer trails, Wednesday March 8, 2017 This loop is one Gary Smith guided our hikers on years ago! Those who hiked then and the new hikers were challenged by the elevation gain, impressed by the views from the leafless trees along the ridge and at the top, refreshed by the damp fragrance after rain the night before, and dampened a bit while rock hopping several swift but shallow stream crossings. The minimum distance was 8.4 miles while Gary Petty, Stormy, Susan Garrett, and Sandy Fenton tagged on an extra 1.8 miles by adding on the section from the Rim Rock/Clemmer intersection to Benton Falls and back. Having been kept off the trail by several rainy Wednesdays, all were in great spirits on this workout trail in the Ocoee. We did spot 2 dwarf iris in bloom, and some spotted Rainbow Falls far below from the Clemmer Trail. Enjoying a SPECTACULAR day were: Gary Petty, Kathy Seymour, Stormy McGauley, Sue Christensen, Susan Garrett, Jean Dickinson, Bob Rahn, Bill Kinnaman, Susan Basch, Barbara Miller, Edie Behringer, Sandy Fenton, Mac Dean, Teresa Dean, Wayne Chambers, Tom Long, Gary Smith, Che Carico reporting and Boe Rudder leading.
Rich Mtn Loop, Saturday March 4, 2017 A herd of deer, several turkeys, and a red-headed woodpecker welcomed us to the start of our Rich Mountain Loop hike. The day started cold but sun made the weather bearable. The first 2.5 miles were straight up on the Crooked Arm Trail. Then, we hiked along the mountain’s ridge with amazing overlooks on both sides of the trail. Everyone agreed to add the Indian Grave Gap trail, 2.0 miles for Bonnie and Betsy, who needed this section of the trail for their Smokies map marking. It was easy 1 mile straight down. However, we were all surprised when greeted with our 1 mile straight back up the mountain. Lunch was enjoyed at the start of the next section. The last section, Rich Mountain Trail was a gradually down hike for 3.5 miles. We completed the hike by 2:00pm. We did start the hike on Friday afternoon when we met up for dinner at Allison Catfish Farm and Restaurant. Members present: Diehl Boggs, Merry Boggs (reporting), Janet Hale, Betsy Parson, Bonnie Smith, Tim Chomyn, Richard Glisson, and Shelly Claiborne.
Len Foote Hike Inn, Wednesday-Thursday February 22-23, 2017 In 1998 Wayne Chambers discovered the newly opened Len Foote Hike Inn and began planning trips to this unique wilderness lodge in Georgia. The group of Chattanooga hikers was small at first but the numbers increased as the years went by. Then Wayne discovered that often, in the months of January and February (slow months for Len Foote) the cost was half priced. With the numbers of Chattanooga Hiking Club members also growing, the interest in this trip grew. This year CHC hikers, surrounding area hikers, and Rome, Georgia hikers filled the lodge with folks who have enjoyed many trail adventures together. In spite of morning rain the trail was not slippery underfoot. The woods were misty with fog masking the usual mountain views. Dinner was once again fabulous featuring pork roast, green salad, and vegetables. The after dinner "lecture" was presented by Merry and Diehl Boggs with the emphasis on sharing local adventure places they have discovered and maps and pictures of long trails out west. After this learning experience the group moved down to the recreation room where a fire was burning in the pot bellied stove, "puzzlers" were busy with a hard waterfall scene puzzle, and Charlie, Jack, and Ray were cranking up guitar, banjo and voices. The "all sing" was loud, tender, countrified, reminiscent, sentimental, old fashioned, spiritual, and sweet as the musicians tried to remember all of the words to the requests thrown out at them! It was tough to pull away from this special sharing time to retreat to rooms for sleep, only to rise in the morning to enjoy the big breakfast prepared by Jacob (soon to embark on the PC trail) and helpers. The sun broke through on the hike out and we were bathed in it by the end of the trail. On to Poole's Barbeque in Ellijay for lunch then home were: Terry Holcomb, Noel Holcomb, Barbara McCollum, Catherine Love, Susan Garrett, Bob Garrett, Teresa Dean, Mac Dean, Helen Owens, Ron Owens, Angela Evans, Chuck Evans, Patti Giles, Ned Giles, Suzanne Dorough, Wanda McCarter, Stormy McGauley, Sarah Frost, Bill Needham, Bill LaRoque, Jack Clayton, Jeff Pollard, Charlotte McNabb, Linda Goble, Ray Goble, Sue Christensen, Joyce Campbell, Carolyn Brannon, Betsy Parson, Bonnie Smith, Tom Carter, Tim Chomyn, Renee Grace, Edie Behringer, Charlie Breeding, Vicki Chambers, Che Carico reporting, and Wayne Chambers leading.
Pictures from Barbara
Cumberland Trail McGill Creek, Wednesday February 22, 2017 Today’s hike to and from McGill Creek gave eight people a delightful and refreshing experience. A light rain fell as the hikers headed into the woods veering left off the path leading to Roaring Creek, flowing south. The moisture intensified the muted tan, gold and bronze colors of all the fallen wet leaves. Amazing rock work made crossing gullies and uneven terrain safer and easier, while eliciting admiration and appreciation for the workmanship. The moderate pace allowed for savoring the beautiful blend of colors in the landscape and in the rocks used in the trail construction. A leisurely lunch was enjoyed beside McGill Creek before turning back. Appreciating this experience were Susan Basch, Donald Box, Bill Kinnaman (hike leader), Barbara Miller, Boe Rudder, plus his daughter, Kate, and grandson, Miles, age 12, and Madelaine Box (reporting).
Picture from Kate Rudder
Lookout Mountain, Saturday February 18, 2017 How does the song go? “Just walkin’ in the rain, . . . .” It was raining when we met to hike. Radar and its projection indicated the rain would last about 4 hours. It did. However, we came to hike, . . and we did. Leaving from the parking lot behind Ruby Falls, the rain quietly and gently enhanced the color and texture of the bare trees, fallen leaves, rocks, moss, etc. Climbing the Mountain Beautiful Trail from the Cravens House, we passed into a world blanketed in fog and mist, resulting in limited visibility. At the bottom of the hundreds (I am sure) steps up to the Point Park Overlook, the decision was to “overlook the Overlook” since there would be nothing to see but fog/mist. Therefore we continued along the Bluff Trail. Later, we climbed “those rock steps” to the Sunset Rock Overlook and were enclosed by an opaque wall of gray. Descending to the Upper Truck Trail on our way back to the parking lot, the fog/mist thinned and the rain stopped, . . briefly. Enjoying our rainy trek through an enshrouded world we don’t often get to experience were Edith Behringer, Joe Teringer, Bill Kinnaman, and Donald Box, reporting.
Cloudland Connector, Saturday February 11, 2017 A few hikers met at the Ascalon Road Trailhead of the Cloudland Connector Trail on a spring-like morning. It was cloudy but warm with a few sprinkles of misty rain. This section of the CCT is mostly level with some rolling hills and is well-built and well-blazed. The area has signs of old mine activities with some old coal spoils visible along the way although Mother Nature has definitely returned the area to a scenic woodlands. We encountered a solo biker with a warning bell on our outward trek to the Bear Creek Bridge. Bear Creek was resurgent with the recent rains which was a welcome sight after the recent drought. We stopped at the bridge and enjoyed the sounds of clear flowing water through the lush streambed. After a short stop, we returned via the Can’t Hardly Trail. According to the Lula Lake website, Can’t Hardly is a nod to the area’s history, as miners used to insist that you can’t hardly get to the coal seam underfoot. This is a quiet hikers only trail with interesting rock formations that follows a stream for most of the return. Those along for the pleasant walk included Sonja Parker, Angela Wallace, and new CHC member Jenny Wallace. Steve Barnes reporting.
Picture from Steve
Jakes Creek/Miry Ridge, Saturday February 4, 2017 Today’s hike was all about the numbers - 21 degrees at the start, 14 hikers, 17.2 miles and 3,200 feet in elevation gain. Even though the hike was advertised as 16.6 miles and almost 3,000 feet of elevation gain, it was nice to get more than what we bargained for. An overnight stay in Townsend helped with an early morning start at Elkmont on the Jakes Creek Trail. After a quick break at Jakes Gap, it was on to the Miry Ridge trail with the Appalachian Trail (AT) being the designated lunch and turnaround spot. Despite the cold start, the day turned out to be sunny with the Miry Ridge trail offering fantastic views of the surrounding mountains. Several spots along the trail were frozen and a couple of large chunks of ice and icicles offered a nice photo opportunity. With a quick lunch on the AT and a few photographs, all hikers were happy to head back to Elkmont. Given the varying speed of hikers, some were off the trail quicker than others, but all were off the trail before dusk. Most of the group opted for dinner at the Mexican restaurant in Townsend while others chose a quick return to Ooltewah. Everyone agreed it was another great day in the Smokies: Betsy Parson, Bob Butterfield, Boe Rudder, Bonnie Smith, Carolyn Brannon, Che Carico, John Hyler, Joyce Campbell, Ken Smith, Monty Simmons, Rick Glisson, Tim Chomyn, Wayne Chambers, and Barbara McCollum, reporting.
Picture from special guest photographer Spears McAllester
Pictures from Barbara
BMT/Unicoi Mtn Trail/John Muir Trail, Wednesday February 1, 2017 21 hikers with the CHC left the Hwy 68 trailhead of the Unicoi Mtn Trail headed east to Coker Creek camp site. The trail starts with a gentle rise to the crest of the ridge. The trail follows the ridge line with views of the Blue Ridge mountains to the east and McCulley Mtn and Duckett Ridge to the west. The trail then heads down to Coker Creek. At 3.6 miles the trail intersects with the John Muir Trail. Coker Creek campground is about 0.3 miles east. After lunch we headed back by the John Muir trail to its Hwy 68 trailhead, hiking the north side of the Hiwassee River. The BMT was an easy walk but the JM trail had many blow downs, rocks and roots. The total hike was a little longer than 10 miles but the last 5 seemed to go on forever. We hiked at about half our normal speed. Fortunately the weather was cool and clear. Challenged by this new trail were: Suzanne Dorough, Renee Grace, Wayne Chambers, Susan Garrett, Charlie Breeding, Barbara McCollum, Barry Ligon, Beverly Ligon, Bill Kinnaman, Diehl Boggs, Jean Dickinson, Mac Dean, Merry Boggs, Patti Giles, Susan Basch, Teresa Dean, Tim Chomyn, Wayne Chambers, Stormy McGauley, Che Carico reporting, Boe Rudder leading.
Picture from Teresa
Keown Falls, Saturday January 28, 2017 Great hike to Keown Falls. The weather was gorgeous with great vistas. The water was flowing over the two waterfalls. Total elevation gain was 1,067 feet with 900 feet in the first two miles. Hiking were Shelly Clairborne, Edith Behringer, Angela Evans and Tim Chomyn as hike leader.
Picture from Tim
Pine Log Creek, Wednesday January 25, 2017 The hikers headed south on I 75 this day to join Barbara, Terri, and Angela in their neck of the woods near Adairsville. The 4.4 mile hike was in the Pine Log Creek recreation area. Barbara rated this trail easy but that was only for distance! It had "generous" ups and downs but was easy underfoot as the trail was layered with fragrant pine needles. The pine trees rose high above our heads like columns of a grand palace. About halfway into the hike a spur led to the quarry and a more beautiful spot we have not seen in a while. The water appeared clear, still, and bluegreen. It was a great place to pause, chat, and have chocolate as the sun shone down on our heads. No wildflowers today but great patches of ferns not bent over by cold nights. Lunch was at the Adairsville Inn and was it delicious!! A buffet with deliciously cooked fried chicken, pork, a fresh salad bar, MANY vegetables, and several choices for dessert. The Adairsville Inn is an historic old house filled with charm. Looking forward to the next trek down south in Georgia are: Bill Kinnaman, Suzanne Dorough, Jean Dickinson, Stormy McGauley, Bill Needham, Charlotte McNabb, Susan Basch, Larry Parks, Patti Giles, Renee Grace, John Rowland, Bill LaRoque, Sonja Parker, Trish Appleton, Betsy Parson, Steve Turner, Ed Park, Gail Stokes, Linda Keown, Mac Dean, Teresa Dean, Jennie Chandler, Barry Ligon, Beverly Ligon, Linda Goble, Lisa Taylor, Tim Chomyn, Wayne Chambers, Greg McCollum, Che Carico reporting, Angela Evans, Terri Holcomb, and Barbara McCollum leading.
Picture from John
Sitton Gulch, Wednesday January 18, 2017 It was a great day to be "turned out" with no rain and hike this beautiful, in all seasons, trail. Lots of recent rain insured running water and many little falls along the way to the Cherokee and Hemlock Falls at the end of the trail. As this was an in and out today, lots of choices for the hikers. A group did hike on up to the rim of Cloudland Canyon, 2 hikers hiked to the rim and then hiked the West Rim loop, and the rest hiked as far as the viewing platform for Hemlock Falls and then returned. Lunches were carried by a few for enjoying along Daniel Creek, some hiked in and out then went on their way, and 14 went over to Trenton to Monty's favorite barbeque restaurant - Thatcher's. Good service and good food served hot! We will surely return to Sitton Gulch in the spring when the wildflowers are in bloom - the trail has a great wildflower reputation. Rewarded by a glimpse of the bat cave on the bluff above the loop spur were: Louis Spencer, Suzanne Dorough, Jean Dickinson, Boe Rudder, Edith Behringer, Susan Basch, Donald Box, Madelaine Box, Bill Kinnaman, Wayne Chambers, Patti Giles, Larry Parks, Barbara Miller, Cecile Shenouda, Charlie Breeding, Diehl Boggs, Kathy Seymour, Merry Boggs, Stormy McGauley, Susan Garrett, Trish Appleton, Che Carico reporting, Monty Simmons leading.
Middle Prong/Greenbrier Ridge, Saturday January 14, 2017 It’s always a pleasure to take a group to the Smokies for some map marking, but this trip seemed to be extra special: Friday night dinner at Townsend’s Riverstone Family Restaurant, eating frog legs for the first time, an overnight stay in Townsend the night before the hike, and extremely mild weather for mid January were ingredients for a perfect recipe. An early morning start on the “in and out” hike on the Middle Prong and Greenbrier Ridge trails totaling 16.6 miles helped several club members get a little closer to the 900-miler status. A stop at Indian Flats Falls was definitely worth the side trip. Two pesky stream crossings at the beginning of the Greenbrier Ridge trail provided some excitement with one minor injury and an opportunity for some interesting selfies. While enjoying a laid-back lunch at the intersection of the AT and Greenbrier Ridge, several hikers opted for a visit to the Derrick Knob Shelter which increased their mileage to 17.2 miles. Hiking the Middle Prong and Greenbrier trails were Barbara McCollum, Bill Needham, Boe Rudder, Che Carico, Helen Owens, Joyce Campbell, Ken Smith, Monty Simmons, Rick Glisson, Terri Holcomb, and Tim Chomyn. Hiking the Curry Mtn, Meigs Mtn, Lumber Ridge, and West Prong trails were Cathy Love, Reggie Jay and Wayne Chambers. Providing valuable Sherpa services for all was Tom Long who hiked a combination of these trails. Dinner at the Mexican Restaurant in Townsend was a delightful end to a perfect day. Barbara McCollum reporting.
Pictures from Tim
Tower Road, Ransom Hollow, Snooper’s Rock, Indian Rock House, Wednesday January 4, 2017 After so much rain and holiday feasting, today's hikers reveled in the sunshine and gathered to hike the sections of trails in Prentice Cooper that had been planned by Donald Box for New Year's Day. All were grateful to join fellow hikers on the reschedule and follow Donald - many on these sections for the first time. The leaves were wet and covered some rocks and roots but for the most part the trail was easy to follow and tread. The river was clearly defined from Ransom Hollow and Snooper's Rock as clouds had passed from the sky. There were fresh ferns still unaffected by cold nights and hollows filled with Mountain Laurel. Water ran in the streams but not so much as to make crossing difficult. The sun was bright at Snooper's Rock, a favorite lunch spot. After a generous break the "line" began the trek on to Indian Rock House and trailhead. Views of the river were endless as the leaves were off of the trees and line of sight from trail to river unobstructed. Happy to catch up on this great day and great hike were: Boe Rudder, Tristan Carico, Susan Garrett, Debbie Lambert, Madelaine Box, Sue Christensen, Edith Behringer, Teresa Dean, Mac Dean, Barbara McCollum, Barbara Miller, Bill Kinnaman, Bill LaRoque, Charlie Breeding, Reggie Jay, Sandra Fenton, Susan Basch, Che Carico reporting, Donald Box leading.