East Tennessee had a historical snowfall for Christmas Day! So we headed for the South Cumberland Recreation Area and the Fiery Gizzard trail a few days later hoping to find again the winter wonderland we found there last February. Sure enough the snow remained in this protected gorge on Monteagle Mountain. There were at least 5 inches of powder. The trail was a little more walked upon and icy in places, the icicle displays were majestic, and the evergreens stood out against the white background. John achieved his personal goal of walking 500 miles in 2010 by walking from the car to the trailhead! He did continue on, leading us to Sycamore Falls then on around to the Dog Hole trail. Most went up this trail at least as far as the impressive "cascade" of frozen water halfway up. Some went on to the top, where the trail levels out, just to get a little more exercise. The beauty of this place on a frozen winter day is difficult to convey! Later, at Papa Ron's Italian restaurant I sat looking at the faces of the happy hikers all engaged in animated conversations. All seemed to be enjoying the blessings of friendships formed by this common bond of hiking. So to those who read Betty's newsletter: May your new year be filled with happiness, peace, good health, and new trails! Celebrating the coming new year were: Pete Rittenberry, Margaret Reisman, Trish Appleton, Reggie Jay, Gary Petty, Bob Rahn, Monty Simmons, Bill Kinnaman, Louis Novakow, John Rowland, Stormy McGauley, Debbie and Jack Lambert, Arlene Swallows, and Che Carico.
It was overcast and foggy today as we headed out for Cloudland Canyon State Park. The plan was to hike down into the gorge and follow the fairly new Sitton Gulch trail with a loop back to lunch at the main waterfall. The fog didn't obscure views - just made the damp woods a bit mysterious. There are 600 steps down and that many back up, but it is worth it as the steps and new bridges open up a beautiful area with lots of rushing water as the trail follows Daniel Creek. The total distance is reported to be 6.5 miles in and out. However, Gary, John, Richard and Larry logged in a bit more distance as they turned left where the trail begins to loop back (there is a gate here) and explored the service road by following it to the trailhead on Canyon Park Drive in Trenton. This confirmed what we had heard about walking to Trenton from the Cloudland Canyon rim. Lunch was chilly as the temperature did not quite make it to the forecasted temperature and a light mist sprayed from the partially frozen falls. The sun was also reluctant to come out. Packing up soon we headed back to the top refreshed and ready to eat turkey and then to begin a new year of shared trails. Wishing all a Merry Christmas!were: Richard Park, Bob Rahn, Val Hargis, Wayne Chambers, Debbie Lambert, Gary Petty, Larry Park, Cecile Shenouda, Stormy McGauley, Bill Kinnaman, JD Dickinson, Louis Novakow, Trish Appleton, Jennie Chandler, John Rowland, Monty Simmons, and Che Carico.
On a cool wintry day, ten of us saw glittering tree tops and a dusting of snow on the mountains on our way to Fall Creek Falls State Park. Upon arrival at the Nature Center, we carpooled through the park to Piney Falls ot begin our hike over a long swinging bridge. After a rest stop at about three miles at a camp site, we descended into the Cane Creek gorge where we stopped to eat near the suspension bridge. After lunch we ascended out of the gorge and on to the Paw Paw Trail near the northern edge of the park and proceeded on to the Nature Center. Some departed for home while one car load drove over to view the signature falls (highest east of the Rockies). Enjoying this hike were Gale Arden, John Rowland, Bill Kinnaman, Joe Terringer, Karis Lieb, Jean Dickenson, Gary Selcer, Wendy Gunn, Wayne Chambers and hike leader, Boodie Fox, reporting.
Our annual Christmas lunch was held today, again in the lovely setting of the Pot Point House on Mullins Cove Road. Stormy, Monty, John, Trish, Val, Pete, Gwen, Debbie, and Che arrived at 8:30 to set the tables and make the cabin "company ready". Around 10 the other hikers and lunchers began to arrive bearing all kinds of wonderful foods for our feast. Most went out to hike the 3 mile loop trail armed with trash bags for collecting garbage along the river and along the road. Rhonda Parks drove their truck to the spot where the guys had piled up old tires. Rhonda and Larry later took those out for disposal. Hot cider greeted the cold hikers when they arrived back at the cabin as some of the lunch only bunch had warmed the appetizers and cider. A fire was roaring in the fireplace and candles glowed on the tables. I think this spot is as close as we can get around here to the oldfashioned traditional Christmas feast setting. How blessed are we to use it and how blessed is the Chattanooga area to have this and 17,300 plus acres protected by the Tennessee River Gorge Trust! Too many names to list today as we welcomed spouses, old friends who can no longer come out for the Wednesday hikes, and "new recruits" for our weekly outings. Che Carico reporting.
The dire weather forecast kept improving, and we ended up with a dry walk in reasonable temperatures. We did cut the hike short by beginning at Curtain Pole, since pavement can be rather hard on the knees. At Rembrandt's we took a brief break for hot chocolate and just maybe to pick up a brownie for later, then on the hike back, as per the tradition several years running, Lin-Fa rode up on his mountain bike to greet us.
Soon after that we encountered hikers who slept in this morning but still enjoyed a walk-Carolyn Perry, Faye Nunez, and a couple of their friends. Sharing a morning walk were Wayne Chambers, Jane Ann Seale, Chris O'Connor, and Elizabeth O'Connor, hike leader reporting.
Temperature forecast in the teens today and yet 22 hikers came out to meet Don Deakins who would then lead us on the remaining 6.7 miles of the Possum Creek Section of the CT! We began on Retro Hughes Road where we had ended when we did the shorter section of this trail several weeks ago. The gated service road there allows access to the trail where we turned right and continued on to Imodium Falls, the concrete bridge, the Little Possum Creek campsite, and out again to Retro Hughes Road. The "lemmings" along today followed Don obediently down a steep bank and across huge boulders where we posed a picture in front of the partially frozen falls. Climbing back up to the trail we then went on to the Little Possum Creek campsite and built a great fire for some protection from the cold as we ate our lunches. I warned the hikers that the chocolate in my backpack (a staple for our hikes) may be frozen and to bite into it carefully! After lunch and back on the trail the creek crossing was uneventful for most as Boodie had previously tried to place more rocks for stepping across. Only Caroline stepped fully into the water but she is so hardy she never complained of the cold as we trudged on to trail's end. She had dry socks to put on if needed. Happy to have made it out on this day and to have hiked this gorgeous section featuring huge rock bluffs, evergreens, and creeks were: Richard Park, Wayne Chambers, Larry Parks, Bob Rahn, Maria Lubkowitz, Karen Ramsey, Trish Appleton, Reggie Jay, Lou Novakow, Arlene Swallows, Pete Rittenberry, Monty Simmons, John Rowland, Gary Petty, Bill Kinnaman, Carol Deakins, Don Deakins, Gary Silcox, Caroline Woerner, Betty Petty, Karen Ramsey's friend Stephanie who is home for a visit from Saudi Arabia, and Che Carico reporting.
We planned today to catch a short section of the CT in Prentice Cooper which some of the Wednesday hikers needed for marking their "CT maps". It was to be quite cold and windy so a short walk and lunch at Merv's seemed in order. However, hunting season was not quite over in Prentice Cooper so we adjusted and hiked that part of the CT which begins on Suck Creek Road, goes up over that little mountain to North Creek, and on up to Mushroom Rock and beyond. This was a 3 mile hike for some who stopped and built a fire at the swinging bridge camp site, and a 4 mile hike for those who went on up to Mushroom Rock and back. Those who have not hiked this section at all and those who had not hiked to Mushroom Rock in this direction were pleased with the workout this little trail gives. Then it was on to Merv's for hamburgers, onion rings, and such. Those proving we can indeed survive cold temps along with winds lowering the chill factor were: Richard Park, Stormy McGauley, Wayne Chambers, Larry Parks, Pete Rittenberry, Margaret Reisman, Karen Ramsey, Val Hargis, Gary Petty, Trish Appleton, Reggie Jay, Bill Kinnaman, Monty Simmons, Bob Rahn and Che Carico, Arlene Swallows, John Rowland, and Che Carico reporting.
Since we had a small turnout for this maintenance we joined the Benton MacKaye maintenance group on BMT Section 12b. Six maintainers met at the powerlines on Kimsey Highway and worked from there east toward the intersection with the Drypond Lead Trail, clearing several large blowdowns off the trail from the recent high winds. Nine trees were cut out and some vegetation was cleared from the trail corridor. Since this is in wilderness, primitive tools were used. The leader for this group was Ken Jones joined my Bill Hodge from the BMTA and Steve Biatowas from the Forest Service. CHC members were Ralph Van Pelt, leader, Monty Simmons and Betty Petty reporting.
On a clear, crisp fall day fifteen eager hikers assembled at McDonald�s to depart for Virgin Falls. We were to meet four more hikers at the trailhead. The colors were a little past their prime but still glorious. When we got to the turnoff to climb to the overlook, almost everyone decided to climb to the overlook. This involved some rickety-looking steps up a portion of the cliff. (I had promised Owen and Monty stairs to climb). As I had feared, the lack of rain had reduced both Big Laurel and Virgin Falls to mere trickles. Several of our group made the effort to hike around and up to the top of Virgin Falls before we headed back to the cars. We were fortunate to have three members of Tennessee Trails with us on this hike, Carroll Viera, Marnelll Cothran and Cindi Johnson. All three are extremely familiar with the Scott�s Bluff area and offered to meet us some time in the future to guide us on some other trails in that area. For Marnell, this was the 99th time she had hiked the Virgin Falls Trail. These three plus Elaine Wolfe joined us at the trailhead. The other CHC hikers present were Eric and Michelle Anderson, Gale Arden, Boodie Fox, Bob Fanning, Owen Holbrook, Reggie Jay, Bill Kinnaman, Elizabeth O�Conner, Linda O�Neal, Gary Selcer, Monty Simmons, Ralph Van Pelt and hike leader Betty Petty reporting.
The canopy overhead was brilliant yellow mixed with reds and orange as leaves still clung to their branches. Some did float down around us to join their predecessors which were dry and crunchy underfoot. You know that sound of dry leaves in the fall - almost drowns out conversation! Don Deakins led a huge number of hikers today on a portion of the Possum Creek segment of the Cumberland Trail. We crossed strongly built bridges over Big Possum Creek and Little Possum Creek and are so grateful to the crews who built these bridges and marked and built the trail. 4.2 miles is the distance Don chose for us today. We began at Heiss Mountain Road trailhead, trekked up and down and crossed both creeks, passed huge boulders and rock bluffs so typical of the area, lunched by Little Possum Creek, then climbed the mountain and continued out to Retro Hughes Road via a service road. This was an "unofficial" exit. The road comes in from the right as the trail curves left toward Imodium Falls and beyond. We will return to complete the segment to include Imodium Falls ( 6 miles) on another day. John brought the chocolate today and it's secret ingredient sure put a spring in our steps!! Great group of 26 included: Don Deakins, Carol Deakins, Linda O'Neal, Val Hargis, Bob Rahn, Stormy McGauley, Gwen Brimer, Richard Park, Lou Navakow, Reggie Jay, Trish Appleton, Monty Simmons, Bill Kinnaman, Tina Harr, Keith Weller, Jan Agee, Patti Giles, Pat Abercrombie, Arlene Swallows, Gail Stokes, Gary Petty, Sharon Hogan, Caroline Woerner, Pat Patrick, John Rowland, and Che Carico reporting.
Rain quite likely was in the forecast for this day. So we wisely decided not to waste John's great hike to Tommy's Point on rain, fog, wind, and colder temperatures. As you may know, the trail to Tommy's Point is in the Savage Gulf area and is 12.8 miles round trip - a long drive and a long hike with the possibility of an aborted trip. As an alternative, 14 hikers met at the parking area outside of Boston Branch to hike the Flipper Bend Loop. THANKS SO MUCH to Larry Cook from the North Chick Conservancy and his volunteers for the fresh blazes! This is the first time I have hiked this loop clearly understanding where to go without wandering off on a side trail. Many hikers had not been here and thoroughly enjoyed the fallen leaves underfoot, the views, and the fragrant woods. Rain did not catch us until after lunch which was on a bluff Boodie had shown me years ago and which looked down on the North Chick Pocket Wilderness area. So, prepared as we were for rain, we did walk for about an 1 1/4 hours in the drizzle. Spirits remained high as we saw great boulders, stopped for a photo op., and enjoyed Bill's latest really funny joke! Always glad to be challenged by the elements and to overcome them were: Richard Park, Val Hargis, Trish Appleton, Bob Rahn, Debbie Lambert, Gary Petty, Bill Kinnaman, Pat Abercrombie, Stormy McGauley, Monty Simmons, Larry Parks, Arlene Swallows, Reggie Jay, and Che Carico, reporting.
Our packs were full of fleece, hats, gloves, etc. but we didn't use them much, because the sun was already warming the trail as we climbed Kanati Fork. This is a pretty route up to Thomas Ridge, but Kanati Fork is little used, narrow and sloping and overgrown in spots just like when I first hiked it 8 years ago. I was on the lookout for buffalo-nut and sure enough, we spotted them carrying the only bright green leaves evident at 3000 feet elevation. It looks like a small tree, but is actually a shrub parasitic on tree roots. Its fruit is called a drupe (Scrabble word) and the leaves are kept through November.
Deciduous leaves all underfoot, we enjoyed the views from the spine of the Thomas Divide trail, then stopped for lunch in a spot sheltered from a cool breeze. We saw a few backpackers and wondered where they'd find water during this drought. Rounding a corner on the Newton Bald trail, I stopped in my tracks before a stage set with fluttering yellow leaves, then saw Tim and Chris seated by the trail, admiring the same hillside. No one objected to dinner at Rib Country-yum-so enjoying the whole day were John Rowland, Tom Herring, Tim Chomyn, Betsy Darken, Chris O'Connor, and Elizabeth O'Connor, hike leader.
It was a beautiful fall day, clear skies, pleasant temps, and some nice leaf colors as we started out on the Old Sugarlands trail, eventually climbing to Cherokee Orchard Road. After walking back down the road a ways, we picked up the nature trail to the Ogle homestead, where we stopped for lunch. Then, after a bit more of the nature trail, we turned onto the Twin Creeks trail and descended to the outskirts of Gatlinburg. Walking into town, we resisted the urge to mug a young man carrying takeout pizza, then proceeded on through town to pick up the Gatlinburg trail, which took us back to Sugarlands Visitor Center where we had started. As we left on Little River Road we were certainly glad we were going in that direction as opposed to the huge line of traffic going the other way towards Gatlinburg. We once again enjoyed dinner at Timbers. Hikers were Sarah Foster, Wayne Chambers, Betty Petty, Monty Simmons, Gary Petty, Jerry Wright and his daughter Amy and grandson Will, and John Rowland, reporting.
We are back on our quest to hike all of the open sections of the Cumberland Trail. Having completed all of the Tennessee River Gorge sections, our trek today was the Big Soddy Creek section (9 miles) led by Don Deakins. Some years ago Boodie Fox took us from Highway 111 over the fence and to the creek as far as we could go at that time - about 4 miles. The trail stopped at the very steep dropdown near what is now called the escarpment. I remember Boodie saying someday we could walk all the way through to Hot Water Road. Well today was the day! What a challenge ably accepted and accomplished by all 24 hikers. Lots of uphill walking at first, some level walking, then steeply down to Deep Creek, steep uphill again, then steeply downhill again to Big Soddy Creek. The steep climb out of here led to a reasonably rock and roll kind of trail to the back country bridge, the escarpment, the "awesome" steps, and on to the familiar portion back to 111. Because the weather had cooled, the challenges of this trail - distance, steep ups and downs, and big boulders in the creeks - were easily met. Don knows this area like the back of his hand and we will be so glad to have him lead us on the other CT sections. This linear state park and trail system is something of which Tennesseans can be so very proud! Happy hikers today were: Richard Park, Val Hargis, Bob Rahn, JD Dickinson, Debbie Lambert, Bill Kinnaman, Lou Novakov, Stormy McGauley, Vicki Armour, Susan Schott, Trish Appleton, Reggie Jay, Pat Patrick, Arlene Swallows, Carol Deakins, Jane Ellett, Wayne Chambers, new hikers Earline and Bill Sonnenburg and Lori Morris, Gary Petty, Larry Parks, Che Carico, reporting and leader Don Deakins.
Visit the Cumberland Trail website to see more pictures, trail descriptions, and maps of the CT sections as made by Don Deakins. His efforts have been enhanced by the company of wife Carol, Jane Ellett, and the labors of Caroline Woerner.
It was dry and dusty (duh!) atop Falling Water Mountain. There has been hardly any rain in over three months. But other than that it was a cool and gorgeous fall day with great colors and views. We did see and smell smoke from a fire in the North Chickamauga Creek gorge, one of several along Walden Ridge in the Soddy Daisy area. The entire train had been reblazed just a week before, thanks to Larry Cook, Director of the �North Chick� Conservancy and his volunteers. Enjoying the nine mile hike were Bill Kinnaman, Brian Lala, Gary Selcer, Gale Arden, Joe Terringer, Lori Morris, Pat Patrick, Bill and Earline Sonnenburg, Tony Cook, Betsy Darken, Kathleen and Darryl Marshall, Shaniqua Mathis, Joseph Sturkey, Candace, Tanisha and Sydney Featherstone, Leslie Eubanks and hike leader Boodie Fox, reporting.
Oh my gosh!!!! What a wonderful hike with Randy Whorton to High Point on Lookout Mountain! Not having hiked with us before, Randy was wary of our capability on this challenging 8 mile trek, but he really wanted us to experience this, his favorite, trail in the area. The trail begins at the Nickajack trailhead near the top of Lookout. Here you will also find a portion of the trail which will eventually connect Lulu Lake with Cloudland Canyon. The High Point trail begins up the hill from this portion of the connector and continues up (sometimes straight up!) and down, through hardwoods, pines, and laurel, up through and in between huge rocks, and along creeks. The view from the rock bluff at the highest point is spectacular and it was here that we enjoyed a leisurely lunch and well deserved rest in the sunshine. The loop section to return to the trailhead turned back into the forest and was easy underfoot after a rather steep but short descent down a loosely graveled service road. I have heard stories of local mountain residents (some years ago) taking this road to the top where they enjoyed picnics with friends featuring food cooked on grills they carried to High Point. The road is gated and locked now. Gratified and grateful to Randy were: Richard Park, Debbie Lambert, Larry Parks, Val Hargis, Bob Rahn, Arlene Swallows, Pat Patrick, Trish Appleton, Wayne Chambers, Donna Ruiz, Monty Simmons, JD Dickinson, Sharon Hogan, Stormy McGauley, Louis Novakov, Gwen Brimer, and Che Carico, reporting.
We will go again, but may need Randy's guidance on a return trip!
River Rocks was well underway as we met to hike the Pot Point Loop trail and the trail to Snooper's Rock. Debbie Lambert, John Rowland, and Caroline Woerner led four new hikers on the Pot Point Loop . The new hikers were: Louis Spencer, Tom Jamison, Michelle Bennett, and Rachel Jaffe. Many regular Wednesday hikers who had done the practice hike and several sessions of trail maintenance, Wednesday hikers who have not been out for a while, and 5 new hikers met to enjoy the hike to Snooper's Rock led by Pete Rittenberry and Che Carico. The terrain was certainly dry, but the views were spectacular as leaves had begun to turn color and fall. Clumps of lavendar asters and golden rod lined the trails. Regulars were Bill Kinnaman, Ray Myers, Bruce Cardall, Karen Gamble, Arlene Swallows, Val Hargis, Carole Klimesch, Bob Rahn, Sharon Hogan, Linda O'Neal, Vicki Armour, Nancy Hoover, Gwen Brimer, and Trish Appleton. New hikers were: Ron and Becky Lambert, Donna Ruiz, Paul Renegar, Gwen Tidwell, and Louis Novakov. Thanks so much to Caroline and John for changing their plans and helping Debbie "lead and sweep" the Pot Point Loop.
Earlier this year I volunteered, by proxy, to lead a hike for the River Rocks program being held the first ten days of October. The date was Sunday, October 3; the location Lula Lake. The meeting time for our "little hike" was to be at 10 AM. Since there was a central contact keeping up with names for each River Rocks hike, I did not have to worry about e-mails and phone calls, so I left town for a week. I came home from a trip on Friday before the hike to find that 35 individuals had already signed up for the trip. I was a bit concerned at that point because the cut off time to sign up for the hike was 10 PM the night before the hike and the group was already quite large, I thought. Sunday morning I received an e-mail saying that I had 50 individuals signed up for the hike. Wow, 50! I was glad that I had a couple of fellow club members already going on the hike and willing to help me with this group.
It was a beautiful sunny Sunday morning when 76 (yes that is correct!) smiling faces met at Lula Lake to enjoy a short hike. We walked along the creek for a while, and a couple of individuals who had been to Lula Lake many times commented that they were unaware of that particular trail. The water was clear and calm. From there we worked our way up to the Bluff road. After walking along the Bluff road for a mile or so, we took a short break at the picnic area for snacks, taking pictures, and taking in the view. From there we walked down to the lake area where many folks went down to sit on or explore the rocks at the waters edge. It was great to see so many families there to enjoy the weather, get some exercise, and take in the wonderful views of Chattanooga Valley as well as Lula Falls and Lula Lake. I would like to thank the club members, on the hike, who made themselves available for questions, information, and helping keep this large crowd going in the right direction. Thanks to Pat Cory for her brief but informative talk on photography just before the hike. Special thanks to John Rowland for getting there early to get things started and staying late to make sure everyone made it out okay. Hike leader, Kendra Cross, reporting.
With 11 hikes scheduled in 9 days, the plans were quite ambitious, but everything seemed to go amazingly well! Not without some excitement, mind you, but still amazingly well, drawing around 250 hikers for the week. Our club was involved in leading 8 of those hikes: Lula Lake (written up separately elsewhere), Pot House Nature Loop, two on the Cumberland Trail in Prentice Cooper, the Bluff Trail on Lookout, Blue Blazes on Moccasin Bend, the Cumberland Trail on Signal, and the North Chick Greenway. And several more club members were among the hikers every day. Many thanks to all who led or hiked with us! We hopefully introduced ourselves to some potential new members, or at least introduced some people to the hiking possibilities in our area. And many, many thanks to Stormy and Mike McGauley for creating the whole thing in the first place!
It was quite cool as seven of us started out on the Grapeyard Ridge trail, but we warmed quickly with the climbing. We looked diligently for an obscure side trail to an old cemetery, but never found it. But we did take a few minutes to look at and photograph the old steam engine that lies upside down in a creek bed. After lunch on some large comfy(?) rocks we met Susan and Jerry who graciously had driven the cars to our ending point and had hiked back to meet us, in effect taking care of the car shuttle. After another break at the Cole homestead, we crossed the road and continued on the Baskins Creek trail. Three of us took the side trip to the old Baskins cemetery before the short but testing climb back out to our cars. Enjoying a pretty fall day hiking and dinner at Timbers were Bill Kinnaman, JD Dickinson, Tom Herring, Susan Faidley, Kathy Ryan, Sarah Foster, Jerry Wright, hike leader Wayne Chambers, and John Rowland, reporting.
As River Rocks was fast approaching, Debbie Lambert, Gary Petty, Pete Rittenberry, and Che Carico were anxious for a "practice hike" on the trails planned for the festival. Debbie and Gary led Wayne Chambers, Georgina Sand, Larry Parks, and Richard Park on the 11.9 mile Pot Point Loop. Che and Pete led Ray Myers, Patti Giles, JD Dickinson, Nancy Hoover, Betty Ann Allgood, John Rowland, Bill Kinnaman, Gwen Brimer, and Arlene Swallows from the parking lot to Indian Rock House, to Snooper's Rock, then back (6.8 miles). Several carried pruning tools for a little more grooming and white paint to enhance the blazes on both trails. This really came in handy the next week when we hiked with new hikers. THANKS to all the trail stewards who worked hard to clean up their sections and to the park rangers who tackled the blowdowns as reported by Donald Box. We were "company ready"!
On this hot summer approaching fall day the Wednesday hikers met at the Imagination Station in Collegedale for a walk planned and led by JD Dickinson. The walk began along the paved path which led to the moving Armed Forces Memorial, continued along to McKee Baking Company where we fed the ducks the day old bread crumbs we had brought along, turned steeply up White Oak Mountain on a single track trail built by the biology department students (a challenge for anyone), then looped back down to "ground level" through the SAU promenade and to our cars. A pleasant @ 7 mile walk and a gem in the midst of urban development! We enjoyed great Italian food at nearby Raphael's: Richard Park, Gwen Brimer, Larry Parks, Wayne Chambers, Val Hargis, Bob Rahn, Trish Appleton, Kathy Seymour, Arlene Swallows, Bill Kinnaman, Stormy McGauley, Debbie Lambert, Gary Petty, Pete Rittenberry, Jean and Bob Dickinson, and Che Carico, reporting.
The Wednesday Hikers headed off to Prentice Cooper today to do some trail work on several sections of the Pot Point Loop trail. This work was sorely needed in the areas Donald had pointed out that do not have trail stewards. We will "adopt" one! The River Rocks Festival coming up Oct 1 - 10 will feature so many activities and a hike every day. This 11.9 mile loop will be the trail featured on October 6 and, with Donald and John"s leadership, is now much improved!! Lunches were eaten trail-side near the spot where Donald created some rock steps to make the path clearer and easier to walk. Those armed with their tool of choice today were: Bob Rahn, Trish Appleton, Pete Rittenberry, Gary Petty, Reggie Jay, Bill Kinnaman, Stormy McGauley, Arlene Swallows, Monty Simmons, JD Dickinson, Gwen Brimer, Larry Parks, John Rowland, Donald Box, Patti Giles, and Che Carico reporting.
Arriving at the trailhead in a light drizzle, eight hardy souls assaulted the short, but steep, climb out of the Bald River gorge. By the time we reached the top, the rain had stopped. Most of the hikers had not been on this trail before and were amazed at how beautiful it was. Once out of the gorge we were in a �hanging valley� on a trail that runs gently along the Bald River for 4 miles. There was one �snake encounter�. The first two hikers stepped over it without recognizing it as a snake, but the third noticed. It was a baby ring necked snake that looked like sort of an oversized worm. Further down the trail we noticed two giant hornet�s nests hanging from limbs over the river. We ate lunch at Betty�s cascades (it drizzled rain a little again while we were eating lunch) and then walked on out to the Upper Bald River Road (FS 126) where the leader talked about the recently introduced legislation to obtain wilderness status for the Upper Bald Area.
The sun came out and the sky was blue, but the rumble of thunder over the mountain behind us hurried us on our way back downstream. And indeed we were overtaken by a brief shower before we got off the trail and had the interesting experience of walking in the rain with the sun shining. We finished off the day with dinner at the Nut�n Fancy in Tellico. Those along for this hike were Steve Barnes (to whom we are grateful for driving), Jean Dickinson, Bob Fanning, Heather Hartmann, Owen Holbrook, Monty Simmons, and Betty Petty, reporting.
North Chick Greenway trail maintenance was the focus of today's hike. We have many new hikers who have never been to this area. They were introduced to this "in town wilderness" by an invitation to bring clippers and to groom the trails in anticipation of the River Rocks Festival coming up Oct. 1 - 10. This trail will be one offered that week and we wanted it to be "company ready"! Yes, after covering every inch of the Greenway Farm except for the paved part (lower loop) from the Boy Scout Trail over to the Lake Resort Drive entrance, we headed out to Logan's Roadhouse for peanuts and great food - there are Wednesday specials at this restaurant! Participating today were: Reggie Jay, Trish Appleton, Betty Petty, Larry Parks, Bob Rahn, John Rowland, Bill Kinnaman, Linda Gunther, Gwen Brimer, Pete Rittenberry with Anne joining us for lunch, Gary Petty, Sue LaGraf, Stormy McGauley, Arlene Swallows, Monty Simmons, and Che Carico. Please go to www.riverrockschattanooga.com to learn about the newly conceived outdoor festival which will feature activities for the whole family!!!!
With a welcome change in the weather five hikers enjoyed a cool walk among the boulders and greenery atop the mountain at Lookout Highlands. We were fortunate not to encounter any bees, unlike the Wednesday hikers, but we also didn�t encounter any water coming over the falls at our destination. The Singing Sisters did not even whisper on this dry crisp morning of September 4. We did see a chipmunk barking at us alongside the trail and an alert Allison pointed out a black snake basking in the early morning sun. Even though it was bone dry there was an abundance of colorful fungi along the trail. Those enjoying the cool and refreshing walk were Yuji and Allison Noma, Kim and Bob Butters, and Steve Barnes, reporting.
PS Just for the record Bob agreed that this trail would be characterized as �fairly level�J
33 Wednesday connected folks went to Whitwell today to experience the awe of the Paper Clip Museum now located on the grounds of the new middle school. So touched were all of us by the enormity of the project former students began here. The project is ongoing as letters continue to come from all over the world and also invaluable treasures (@ 27,000) of great significance to remembering the holocaust and appreciating diversity. If you have not visited this memorable place, please do so!
After our tour at the museum we headed over to Button Willow Dinner Theater to enjoy a fabulous lunch and the unique play featuring Civil War trivia and curiosities. The Travel Channel and the Wednesday Hikers highly recommend this experience! Log onto www.buttonwillowchurch.com to see what it is all about. After a great meal, a great play, and a visit to the gift shop these folks headed home: Trish Appleton, Betty Petty, John and Annie Rowland, Margaret Reisman, Stormy McGauley, Gary Petty (he took his wife Judy back the following Friday night!), Gwen Brimer, Blaine Reese, Linda Busby, Arlene Swallows, Reggie Jay, Teresa Clarke, Brian Lala, Jennie, Dick, Carrie, Allen, Adele, and Jim Chandler, Aida de la Cruz, Karen Ramsey, Nancy Hoover, Anne and Pete Rittenberry, Becky Jones, Susan Westmoreland, Lou Gassett (a guest, from Atlanta, of the Rittenberry's), Patti Giles, Bob and Karen Rahn, Vicki Armour, Bobby Wilbanks,and Che Carico reporting.
Thanks to Gwen and Blaine, who grew up in Whitwell, we had a drive-through tour of the original downtown area of Whitwell!
The day started with a delay, as the hike leader overslept by an hour. The rest of the day went much better. We started the hike by walking over the dam at the park. This dam was built by the Civilian Conservation Corp and was started in 1934. The dam is the largest masonry dam that the CCC ever built. We also learned that Boodie Fox was born and raised in the town outside the park, Homestead, TN. Also, Jean Dickinson and her husband Bob honeymooned here in 1967.
We began on the Cumberland Plateau Nature Trail. After 1/2 mile, we intersected with the Byrd Creek Trail. Byrd Creek is the stream that was dammed and makes Byrd Lake. The stream was low, with many stagnant pools. The forest provided good shade and made the hike much more enjoyable. After another mile, we intersected with the Cumberland Overnight Trail. This 6 mile trail goes over some low ridges and across some ephemeral streams. Along the way we saw some late summer wildflowers, including cardinal flower, blazing star, Loomis' mountain mint, smooth false foxglove, and downy lobelia.
Those enjoying the hike were Boodie and Carol Fox, Bill Kinnaman, Tony and Carol Cook,Jean Dickenson, Monty Simmons, and Doug Cooper, reporting.
Our streams and waterfalls remain dry so today John Rowland led us on past the waterfall in Savage Gulf to some beautiful overlooks of the gulf area from the South Rim trail. This got us out into the woods for a short in and out hike (@ 5 miles). The Savage Gulf Dayloop remains one of my favorites to suggest for new hikers. Then it was on to another new lunch spot in Dunlap. It is the Blue Orchid Bistro where the cool atmosphere was a pleasant relief from another of this summer's really hot days. Seeming to enjoy the walk and delicious lunch were: Larry Parks, Reggie Jay, Trish Appleton, Gwen Brimer, Gary Petty, Bob Rahn, Sue Christianson, John Rowland, JD Dickinson, Gail Stokes, Stormy McGauley, Val Hargis, and Che Carico reporting.
At our last club meeting, John Rowland made a plea for a respectable turnout for today�s trail maintenance session, hoping we would get a double digit turnout. We did! We had a dozen! Therefore we split into 2 groups and with swingblades, loppers, and clippers attacked different sections of the Pot Point Loop Trail which currently do not have a trail steward. [Using her �little red saw� (�one of the best $20 purchases I ever made�) Caroline also removed a number of blowdowns from across the trail.]
Getting an early start in an effort to beat the afternoon heat and rain, we widened and cleared two or more miles of trail. It was interesting to see the number of large trees with strips of bark missing in a spiral fashion around them, from the top to bottom of the trees, as a result of lightning strikes. Also interesting was the 2� X 3� oval a few inches deep filled with a multitude of deer tracks in and around it where deer obviously drank when it held water following a rain. [Until we were about done for the day, I somehow failed to mention to my team a recent report of about a 4� a rattlesnake along the section we were working. We didn�t see any snakes.]
Our able dozen included Gwen Brimer, Che Carico, Kendra Cross, Kurt Emmanuele, Bill Kinnaman, Larry Parks, Betty Petty, John Rowland (leader of the �A� team), Monty Simmons, Joe Teringer, Caroline Woerner, and Donald Box, reporting.
You just never know how things will turn out unless you come along! Today 16 hikers showed up at the parking areas outside of Reflection Riding to enjoy a 2 hour hike within. Reggie Jay considers the Nature Center her stomping grounds when she just needs a little exercise and can't find a group. She took the lead after we met up briefly with Jeffrey Hunter who gave each of us maps of the grounds. Our circuitous route took us up by the Chief Walking Stick cabin and into the woods, out and down by Lookout Creek, and on into the wolf and raptor protected area. Seeing the wolves was a first for some. Lunch was at the Cafe on the Corner on the top of Lookout Mountain and the food, service, and patio atmosphere were superb. After lunch 7 of the original 16 drove down to Ruby Falls and enjoyed the amazing trek 1120 feet underground to see the beautiful formations and the stunning waterfall which was highlighted with a laser light show and music. As a Chattanoogan, if you haven't been to Ruby Falls, put it on your bucket list - you will not be disappointed. It is a first rate tourist attraction of which Chattanooga can be proud! Out for this excursion today were: Reggie Jay, Trish Appleton, Richard Park, Rhonda and Larry Parks, Val Hargis, Bob Rahn, Bill Kinnaman, Gwen Brimer, Cecile Shenouda, Linda Busby, Sue Christiansen, Arlene Swallows, Seth Carico, Aida De la Cruz, and Che Carico.
I think today we began a month of "tours" instead of real hikes. It seems we have been rushing through our hikes trying to beat the heat. Red Clay State Park has a museum and grounds dedicated to telling the story of the Cherokee Indians who lived in this area. The reconstructed farm is so very well maintained and the trails pass around sacred areas of the community. There is a new 1.7 mile trail added to the original 1.3 miles in the park. So we did step back in time for a few moments and we did get in a decent hike. Take your out of town visitors to Red Clay for an historical reminder of the Cherokee culture and the events leading up to taking over their land. The next stop was the Renfro sock outlet on Michigan Street and most came out with bags of Smart Wool, Carhart, and John Deere socks for $6 per pair and various assorted socks for as little as $.50 per pair. Lunch was just down the road at Antonio's - pizza and salad bar featured items. It was here at lunch, comfortable and cool, that Betty Petty told me about the next Saturday's Sugarlands Trail hike (in the Smokies) led by Wayne and Jeffrey Hunter's hike in and out on the Rock Creek Trail on Little Frog! The outside temperature registered 100 degrees while driving home. I am told it will be much cooler in the mountains on Saturday.! Newly "socked" today were: Arlene Swallows, Bill Kinnaman, Sue Christiansen, Jean Dickinson, Brian Lala, Gary Petty, Wayne Chambers, Val Hargis, Trish Appleton, John Rowland, Betty Petty, Nancy Hoover, and Che Carico. Kathy Seymour joined us for lunch and showed us how her newly constructed knee is working! Reported by Che Carico.
Eureka! We figured out how to beat the heat! You start at 5000 feet and go up! Temps were probably in the 70's and we quite often had a nice breeze! This was a hastily assembled replacement for a cancelled hike for those of us who didn't want to stay home and mow the lawn. After setting up our car shuttle, we went up the AT out of Newfound Gap. Most of us made the side trip to The Jumpoff and were rewarded with a great view and only a little bit of haze. After lunch at Icewater Springs shelter, we continued on out to Charlie's Bunion, and stopped there for a short while to enjoy that view. Then we turned onto the Dry Sluice Gap Trail, before heading down Grassy Branch and Kephart Prong trails to our awaiting cars. Enjoying the hike and dinner at Newfound Lodge restaurant in Cherokee were Kathy Ryan, Monty Simmons, Bill Kinnaman, Betty Petty, Bob Butterfield, and John Rowland, reporting.
Today we had the pleasure of meeting Steve Barnes and enjoying his leadership to the Singing Sisters waterfall. Although Steve is mentally challenged about the definition of "mostly level", we were glad for the workout on this up and down trail. It is a "bit" of a scramble down to the creek at the falls so some chose to enjoy the sound of rushing water from above. No snakes today but at least 6 hikers did get stung by yellow jackets! They were vicious. As the hike was an in and out, we returned to the lake at the trailhead to enjoy our lunches. Perhaps we trespassed just a bit as we found several picnic tables beyond a gate and near the water's edge. Out for today's adventure were: Arlene Swallows, Sue Christiansen, Gary Petty, Patti Giles, Bill Kinnaman, Reggie Jay, Trish Appleton, Val Hargis, Linda Busby, Bob Rahn (back after 6 weeks of traveling the highways out west in his RV), John Rowland, Linda Gunther, Pete Rittenberry, Pat O'Brien, Betty Petty, Stormy McGauley, Larry Parks, Monty Simmons, Che Carico, and Steve Barnes, hike leader. Reported by Che Carico.
The Wednesday Hikers enjoyed this beautiful area and I do believe we covered every square inch including the new High Adventure wilderness trail that does present quite a steep challenge - short (.25 miles) but steep! There had been rain the night before so there was water in the waterfalls despite this drought we find ourselves in. Lunch was down the rough trail to the big waterfall for some including JD Dickinson who never passes up an opportunity to get totally wet! The rest of us ate by the lake formed at the base of the upper falls. It was another hot summer day so we enjoyed the blessing of this wonderful wilderness close to home. Terrain, geology, and vast overlooks are just as varied as any other trail favorites in our mountainous areas. Happy hikers were: Arlene Swallows, Sue Christiansen, Gary Petty, Patti Giles, Bill Kinnaman, Reggie Jay, Trish Appleton, Pete Rittenberry, Stormy McGauley, JD Dickinson, Linda Busby, Val Hargis, Betty Ann Allgood, Pat O'Brien, Ray Myers, and Che Carico, reporting.
Piney River is a great hike in the spring; in the dog days of summer..., well it's a great hike in the spring! The best thing we did was meet early; we hustled on up to the trailhead, got our car shuttle set up, and were on the trail at 9AM. It wasn't really too, too hot, although the 11 o'clock news that night said Spring City got up to 97. We were well shaded, we took two sit-down breaks plus lunch, and took several short standing breaks for water. But the low water levels in the river and creeks were pretty disappointing, although not totally unexpected; White Pine Cascades was actually White Pine Trickle. We were done by 3PM, and we headed straight for the McDonald's in Spring City - ice cream, milkshakes and other cold drinks, and air conditioning! Enjoying the warm camaraderie (literally) were Joe Teringer, Bill Kinnaman, Wayne Chambers, Wendy Gunn, Susan Faidley, Bob Butterfield, Kathy Ryan, and John Rowland, reporting.
(We'll try again next spring, gang.)
"Rollin, rollin, rollin down the river!" and that is just what we did on this very hot day. No better place to be than in a duckie rented from Webb Brothers store, hiking along the rushing river, and on the river bank enjoying grilled hot dogs. This was our annual trip and there were 28 who turned out to float, walk, and/or eat. The sides brought to eat with the delicious hot dogs cooked by Monty and Bill were fabulous! New "river rats" were Betty Petty, John Rowland, Sue Christiansen, Linda Gunther, Rhonda and Larry Parks, Linda O'Neal, and Pat O'Brien. Others rafting or walking today were: Richard, Pam and William Park, Linda Busby, Trish Appleton, Gordon Sweenie, Mary Hannon, Nancy Hoover, Margaret Reisman, Karen Ramsey, Gary Petty, Ann Huckaba, Val Hargis, Bill Kinnaman, Monty Simmons, Reggie Jay (who stepped on a snake, by the way!), Pete Rittenberry, Carole Kliemesch, Gwen Brimer, and Che Carico, reporting.
Call Webb Brothers store listed in Benton and you, too, can enjoy this wonderful for all ages float down the Hiwassee.
Surprisingly, we had no rain despite an 80% chance in the forecast. We did have to add an extra .5 mile since the trailhead was closed and we had to hike from the trailhead. Hiking along Meig's Mountain Trail, John and Bill told us about the upcoming best-seller that they're writing. Kathy contributed some good stories as we walked, although the novel's topic was a bit vague, something about moonshining and accidental arson with a chapter on Neanderthals and their relationship to the modern hiker. Bob Fanning explained the plans he's making for his September hiking trip in Canada, and several members of the hiking club have already signed up. Jerry was the only one who saw a bear today and that was from a bearjam at Metcalf Bottoms, not on the trail. Not long after lunch, we descended Meig's Creek Trail, where I fell in during one of the 19 rock-hops. I was slow to get out of the creek because it was so refreshing! Soon after, we misplaced three of our hikers. Bob Butterfield said that he'd overheard something about swimming...Sure enough, the Three Vigilantes (you have to guess who) snuck off to sit under/in the waterfall. Rejoining us at the Sinks, they denied getting in the creek but their back-up story was lame and we knew better. Plus, Susan told me the name of the ringleader and I believed her. Thanks again for the extra water, Wayne-it's hard to drink enough in the summer. Steakburgers and broiled trout didn't stay on our plates for long at Timber's and a blackberry cobbler was sighted. Sharing the hike were John Hyler, Bill Kinnaman, Kathy Ryan, Bob Fanning, Jerry Wright, Bob Butterfield, Susan Faidley, Elizabeth O'Connor, reporting, and Wayne Chambers, hike leader.
Two hikes today for the Wednesday hikers! The day began on Signal Mountain with the goal of hiking the blue trail at Shakelford Ridge Park, with a side trail to Mushroom Rock. Everyone brought containers and we picked blackberries near the 4 mile trail end. The hikers who enjoyed lunch at the new Walden Smokehouse Restaurant and then headed home to make cobblers were: Trish Appleton, Val Hargis, Bill Kinnaman (gave his berries to Che but did get cobbler!), Gary Petty, Betty Ann Allgood, Pat O'Brien, Linda Gunther, Wayne Chambers, Larry Parks, Monty Simmons, and Che Carico reporting.
For an evening hike our Wed. hikers had been invited by Don Deakins to join "his bunch" for a cookout and flashlight hike (the moon was just a quarter moon) in the Prentice Cooper Forest. The grills were fired up and chairs brought out for conversation to wait for dark to approach! At least one hiker was prepared for "Happy Hour" and this "Happy Hiker" did share!! The social time was at the Davis Pond campsite and this is where the 4 mile loop hike began and finished. It was pitch black dark when we finished and the bull frogs near the pond were loudly suggesting we go on home. Going away having made some new hiking friends were: Richard Park, Gwen Brimer, Debbie Lambert, Karen Ramsey, Vicki McCoy, Anne Campbell, Reggie Jay, Bill Kinnaman, and Che Carico reporting.
We started early to get up the mountain before the heat got too intense. Half of our group had never hiked the Big Frog Mountain Trail. We hiked up Big Frog Mountain most of the way in fog. We did not see blue sky until after lunch; but that was ok because we were cooler. The first 2.7 miles of the trail were amazingly clear. The Forest Service had put some college students on the trail clearing it as part of their summer project. They did a very good job! We had some good views of Licklog Ridge after we had climbed up above the Fork Ridge Trail. Unfortunately, most of the summer wildflowers were gone. There were a few summer phlox and some black-eyed Susan. And near the top we saw some flame azalea.
After a quick lunch break at the top, we proceed back down. Due to a low tire, I had to limp out to the nearest service station to get some air. Those enjoying this mid-summer hike were Patti Giles, Bob Fanning, Bob Butterfield, Tim Chomyn, Betty Petty, and Doug Cooper, reporting.
We are happy to report that the linkage of Lulu Lake and Cloudland Canyon is underway. A 5.6 mile section is now open - the Long Branch Trail - the trailhead for which is on the left going up Nick-a-Jack Road about .5 miles from the intersection with Hwy 157. This is a great workout section with ups and downs, wide passage, and well groomed. There are even blackberries along the trail as it passes under the power line. We placed cars on the Hwy 157 end and hiked only one way since the trail was new to us and temps forecast in high 90s. A great lunch was had at Mount Vernon by: Gary Petty, Monty Simmons, Larry Parks, Val Hargis, Trish Appleton, Betty Petty, Betty Ann Allgood, Pat O'Brien, Pete and Anne Rittenberry, John Rowland, Patti Giles, Wayne Chambers and Che Carico, reporting.
Today I looked around and counted 22 "heads" in the parking lot of the Radio Shack on Dayton Blvd.! These folks had come out to hike the trails on Stringer's Ridge as a short alternative to the long hikes and rather distant trails we have been hiking lately. Led by Bobby Wilbanks we accessed the top of the ridge from the Red Bank side, then after a short walk in this wonderful area saved from condo development, we enjoyed a long lunch at Amigo's. Several new hikers came today and they seemed not to mind the short hike and seemed to enjoy getting to know the regulars. Hats off to the City of Chattanooga and the Trust for Public Land for protecting and opening this area for public recreation! Reported by Che Carico.
Editor's NoteSince the time of this hike Betty Petty has been contacted by ONSTAR with profound apologies for the incident followed up by reinburement for the tow charges and a year' free subscription to the service.
We departed Ooltewah around five o�clock and made it to Tellico Plains by 6:30. During the bathroom break we took a consensus vote and decided to eat at the Tellicafe rather that cooking out at our campsite. We made it to the Whigg as sunset was approaching and carried our gear to the top to have a great view of the surrounding wilderness. I saw a familiar profile as we approached the top and it was none other that Hugh Irwin, the director of the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition. He had been to a meeting in Reliance and had stopped by the Whigg for an anticipated firefly display. This was a bonus that we had not counted on. The Forest Service had mowed the Whigg during the previous week, so we had a hay-cushioned bed on which to sleep. Monty had brought firewood plus more was gleaned from the surrounding area. We had an excellent campfire and sat talking until quite late. The full moon made the night almost as bright as day. The next morning we were well on our way to getting started on our hike by 8:30-9:00 am when I had a flat tire on my right front wheel. There was a 2-3 inch gash in the sidewall from a rock and where we were, no cell phones worked plus my ONSTAR couldn�t connect. Since I have ONSTAR and my car is a hybrid, there is no spare tire. So I piled my gear into another car and we drove down the Cherohalla Skyway until we found a pull-out where the cell phones worked. I called ONSTAR to try to get roadside assistance. Meanwhile the four guys went on to try to get in at least part of the hike. Since none of them were familiar with the trails involved, they decided just to do the Grassy Gap Trail as an in-out. After repeated calls and discussions with the ONSTAR people who seemingly could not figure out where my car was exactly and could not figure out how to help me, we called AT&T information who helped us locate a tire dealer in Tellico (Tellico Tire) who had a tire to fit my car and a tow-service (Phillips Wrecker Service) who could locate the car and haul it out to the tire service. Both of these businesses were extremely helpful and efficient. After rejoining the guys who had a good little hike, my cousins and I departed for my family reunion in Robbinsville, NC while the other three returned to Chattanooga. Since Ginger and I had not had the pleasure of hiking that day, the three of us stopped and hiked the Huckleberry Knob Trail on our way. Those present were Monty Simmons, Doug Cooper, Bob Butterfield, John and Virginia Baxt (my cousins from Houston), and hike leader, Betty Petty.
Due to popular demand the Wednesday group scheduled another visit to Gregory Bald this year. Several of us drove up early Wednesday afternoon so we could get in a little "practice hiking". Che, Gwen, and Bill were the more energetic ones, doing the Crib Gap Trail along the road into Cades Cove; Arlene, JD, Linda, Val, and John drove to the Greenbrier School, then hiked out to see the Walker Sisters' homestead. After the rest of the crew arrived at the EconoLodge in Townsend, we had a very enjoyable dinner at the Carriage House Inn Restaurant where Martha and Ray Myers were honored for recent birthdays.
Thursday morning bright and early we set out, only to get stymied at the entrance to Cades Cove for about 45 minutes while a paving project was completed. But we got to Sam's Gap without any further delay, and were happy to find the parking area rather empty. When we got to the bald, we were greeted with the usual profusion of wild azaleas, just a little on the down side from having bloomed a little early this year. We ate and rested in the lush grass overlooking Cades Cove, then wandered around the bald for a better look at the azaleas. As we returned to our lunch spot, JD and Bill were motioning us to come over one by one and look at something in the grass. No, it wasn't some huge snake; it was a little fawn curled up in the grass and being perfectly still. It's a wonder one of us hadn't stepped on it during the previous hour or so. Shortly afterwards on our way back down, we got a good look at a doe and another fawn as they came up the trail right at us, then turned off into the woods.
We returned home via Cherohala Skyway, a new experience for some. We had targeted a place in Tellico Plains for dinner, but because we were behind schedule we got there 15 minutes after their closing time. But Che's best hungry-little-puppy-dog routine worked it's charm, and we wound up with another fun dinner together and then closed up the place. So stop by the Nut'N'Fancy restaurant in Tellico Plains sometime if you have the chance.
Enjoying the hiking and all the other good times were Arlene Swallows, Bill Kinnaman, Cecile Shenouda, Cynthia Cowan, Gary Petty, Gwen Brimer, JD Dickinson, Linda Busby, Ray Myers, Richard Park, Stormy McGauley, Val Hargis, and that sweet talking hiker herding Che Carico, and hike leader John Rowland reporting.
Gregory Bald Dayhike - Friday, June 18, 2010
Just to make sure they get "official credit": Kathy Seymour and Reggie Jay accompanied me on a "make-up" dayhike to Gregory Bald via Gregory Bald Trail. The azaleas were great as usual; the weather... not so much. It totally clouded over just before we got to the bald and we experienced a light sprinkle; but that just cooled us off a bit. A long day maybe, but a very good day. John Rowland reporting.
After a brief stop at the Ooltewah Hardee�s eight anxious hikers proceeded to the Scenic Spur Trail located in the Cherokee National Forest. The trailhead is on Hwy. 30 about 100 yards from US 64. The weather was humid and warm but the trailhead was shaded and Rock Creek was flowing with the recent rainfall. The trail was well worn and the only obstacles were the two creek crossings and the occasional litter from previous visitors. Betty set a mild pace and the group enjoyed the partly cloudy trek through the Rock Creek Gorge Scenic Area. We were happy to discover that the water levels were below the knee and with able assistance from Melvin we made multiple use of Faye�s trekking poles to assist our traverse. The stepdown waterfall was visible through the trees but we proceeded to Rock Creek Falls near the head of the gorge. The mist and evaporation from the falls provided for a cool respite from the heat. This is a good walk for a hot summer day. Those enjoying the short walk were Bruce Cardall, Karen Gamble, Marcia Parks, Carolyn Perry, Betty Petty, Faye Nunez, Melvin Nunez, and Steve Barnes reporting.
Gary Smith still has many trails in the Ocoee area on which to take us! Temps forecasted in the 90s today, but off we went to the dense forest. We met Gary at Webb Brothers store in Reliance and there we were shuttled by a Webb Brothers van to the trailhead which was about halfway from highway 68 and the Hiwassee River on McFarland Road. For a while we were on Kimsey Highway which served as a detour road during the rock slide blocking of 68. Believe me you would never want to rely on that road to get you ANYWHERE. The total distance for this section of the Benton MacKaye is 19.5 miles, but we chose an 8.3 mile segment beginning at McFarland Road and will return for the remainder. Bill Kinnaman remarked that this was one of our "neatest trails" and that is high value from a man who has hiked so many trails including the AT! We encountered bald mountain tops, meadow walking, ridge tops, rhododendron in bloom, magnificent geology, ripening blackberries, and we walked along Big Lost Creek for the last 4 miles. Lunch was in the Lost Creek campground. For lunchtime entertainment all the guys/boys took part in a rock skipping contest. It was hard to determine a winner as all were so good at this skill! The only down moment today was when Bill was attacked by the yellow jackets! He suffered at least 5 stings on his head but carried on valiantly. Feeling quite accomplished were: Gary Smith, Kathy Seymour, Bill Kinnaman, Gwen Brimer, Patti Giles, Pete Rittenberry, Bobby Wilbanks, JD Dickinson, Larry Parks, Janet Hale, Richard Park, Ray Myers, and Che Carico.
We were supposed to go to Balsam Mountain, but couldn't because the road was closed; then there were no group campsites available anywhere in the Smokies, so we had two sites in Smokemont Campground, near Cherokee, NC. Eight hikers signed up for the trip, four made it! The four of us went up Friday morning looking forward to setting up camp and hiking the Smokemont loop, but it rained. Instead, we set up camp, walked a short nature trail at the campground and, after supper, enjoyed a dry evening around the campfire. We were all up early Saturday and ready to go on our hike by 9. After dropping the guys off at Mingus Mill, Betty and I went to begin our ascent up the Newton Bald trail. Along the way, Betty mentioned that she hadn't done the Mingus Creek trail, so I suggested she give her car keys to John and Monty (who were going down Newton Bald) and we go down via Mingus Creek and have the guys come pick us up at Mingus Mill. So when we met at the trail intersection, the keys were handed off and the two pairs went our separate ways. When John came to pick us up at Mingus Mill, he explained that he had lost Monty after one of them stopped for a bathroom break near the end of the Newton Bald trail. Suddenly I began wondering where I was going to find a replacement to take back home, as I have a rule that I must return with the same number of people that I leave with!! Fortunately, Monty was quickly located and back to the campground we went. Shortly after we got back to camp it rained. After the rain subsided, we decided to go the creek to cool off. However, Monty had other plans! As we were wading, maybe knee deep in the freezing cold, but refreshing, water; Monty went to the other side of the creek and proceeded to put his bio-degradable soap to good use (don't worry, he was dressed!) We went back to camp feeling cooled off from our wading trip. Monty came back smiling like a new man, and stated that he felt much better. We broke camp Sunday morning to the sounds of an approaching thunderstorm. After breakfast, and the storm, we decided not to do our planned hike. After enjoying Cherokee, and lunch, we returned to Chattanooga. Those along for the rainy, but enjoyable car camp were Betty Petty, John Rowland and Monty Simmons. Reported by Trip leader, Kendra Cross.
John Doyal planned for us to hike this area on a very important day - Senators Alexander and Corker were introducing the Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2010 for passage which would then protect as wilderness an additional 19,556 acres in the Cherokee National Forest. 9,038 acres would be newly designated for wilderness protection in the Upper Bald River wilderness. So we set out for the Brookshire Trail to then intercept the Benton MacKaye Trail in this soon to be official wilderness. The area had previously been a Wildlife Study Area. Rain was our enemy, however, and only a few of our group hiked on, absolutely soaked in spite of rain gear, to the Benton MacKaye trail. Those hardy souls were Richard Park, Gary Petty, Wayne Chambers, Gwen Brimer, Larry Parks, Cecile Shenouda, and Che Carico (only trying to keep track of her hikers!). Those with more good sense turned back early and found warmth and dry in a restaurant in Tellico, and enjoyed a bit of shopping before the long trip home. Leaving with "something in the bag" were Val Hargis, Patti Giles, JD Dickinson, Arlene Swallows, Reggie Jay, Kathy Seymour, Bob Rahn, and John Doyal and guests. Reported by Che Carico.
The Ghost of Chickamauga saw us easing our way through a morning fog. We started early to beat the heat and to hopefully finish our hike before Noon.
A shower the day before got rid of any summertime dust and the air was fresh and the trails were in great condition. Even though we stopped on occasion to read excerpts from Thomas Wolfe�s short story �Chickamauga�, we still covered 6 miles before lunch. It was a special moment when we read Ohio General Lytle�s famous poem at the spot were he died, because one of our hikers was from Ohio. We even charged up Snodgrass Hill just like the two confederate soldiers from the short story did. And just like the soldiers we sustained our energy by gobbling goober peas and singing that old song with a whole lot of gusto - a recording contract in Nashville is pending. Congratulations to Bill for making his first CHC hike. Congratulations and Godspeed to all of the hikers for the friendship and the fellowship. Wearing out our grinders eating goober peas were Gary Selcer, Bill Parrish, Orval Porter, Sherry Gilreath, Arlene Swallows, Reggie Jay, Carol and Boodie Fox, Dave McCorkle, Elvis, Carol Cook and Tony Cook reporting.
All together there were only 10 of us (including 2 Kathys and 3 Steves) to observe National Trails Day in the Big Frog Wilderness area. Changing our originally intended work plan, we began at the parking area for the Big Frog Trail. Until early afternoon rumbles of thunder convinced us it was time to head back to the vehicles, loppers, clippers, swing blades, and ax, and a 2-man crosscut saw were used to clear encroaching growth and blowdowns in and beside the Big Frog and Grassy Gap Trails. The day was warm and humid. A few ticks were encountered. Scratches, and blisters occurred. Also some good clearing of the trails occurred. (Rain did not occur.)
Turning in a good job in this useful effort were Steve Barnes, Steve Biatowas (with the Forest Service), Steve Cartwright, Kathy Ryan, Kathy Seymour, JD Dickinson, Betty Petty, John Rowland, Gary Smith (his 27th day of Big Frog Wilderness trail work this year), and Donald Box, reporting.
For most of us on this trip, it was the first time that we had driven through the Ocoee Gorge since it had reopened. The improvements that TDOT has made are dramatic!
We hiked the trail in reverse to what it is usually hiked by climbing up to the ridge top first, then visiting the lower cascade first. This saved the dramatic Turtletown Falls for last and for our lunch spot. After lunch we exited this trail and drove to Coker Creek Trailhead. Due to the fact that some of our group needed to get back to Chattanooga early, we only hiked down to the falls on this trail. Those enjoying these beautiful falls which were running full due to much rain in the preceding couple of days were Bill Kinnaman, Monty Simmons, Patty Giles, Ralph Van Pelt, Dick McClure and hike leader, Betty Petty reporting.
"Be Prepared"! Such a simple motto embraced by the Boy Scouts of America and other outdoor enthusiasts. Not so today with most of the Wednesday hikers! Our hike began with blue skies, partly cloudy, and forecasted high temps. So we were glad to start off by Richland Creek in the rather cool shelter of a dense tree cover. After taking the left fork in the trail and heading to Snow Falls, we found the switchbacks not to be so bad as there were cool breezes. The "flower of the day" was the Indian Pink. Blue skies were covered by gray when we reached the top of the mountain, but still no warning of pending doom. It was not until we approached the creek crossing that thunder could be heard and a few drops of rain fell. I decided to cross the creek and go on to the waterfall since we could find shelter there more quickly than if we began a retreat back down the trail. By the time we had descended through the rock passage to get nearer the falls, the rain became harder and we gratefully found shelter in the rock overhang by Snow Falls. This didn't provide shelter for very long, however, as the rain picked up even more and once cool breezes became blowing gusts of wind. The rain drops dripping off of our rock shelter roof and the wet collie we had picked up along the way made for a rather uncomfortable "adventure"! To quote Georgina "something smells funky and I don't know if it is me or the dog!". As the rain let up we decided to pack up and head back since we were already wet. Why were we wet? Because most of us had left our rain gear in the car! An assortment of gear did come out - clever ways to make rain hats with plastic bags, a bright orange water proof blanket, and a Maid of the Mist poncho. Lulled by what seemed to be a let up in the rain, most began to dry out. Ray and JD had stayed dry because they found a bigger rock shelter for their lunch break. Before we made it off the top on our return trek, the skies opened up again - the dry got wet and the wet got wetter. I like Reggie's new trail motto: "When the going gets wet the wet get going"! Those who will "Be Prepared" the next time: Ray Myers, Reggie Jay, Stormy McGauley, Pete Rittenberry, Bob Rahn, Arlene Swallows, Bill Kinnaman, Georgina Sands, JD Dickinson, Val Hargis, Gary Petty, Bobby Wilbanks, and Che Carico, reporting.
With Hwy 64 back open, we were finally able to access this trailhead via Boyd Gap Overlook. Overcast skies for most of our walk made for reasonable temperatures, though a bit humid. Our first wildflower sightings were the spiderworts, to be followed by the mountain laurel, yellow star grass, whorled loosestrife, and woodland bluets. The fairly level trail wound through the peaceful forest and along Ocoee Lake #3. Several mountain bikers greeted us as they passed, and Chris helped one rider find the route back to the Whitewater Center, since he'd already traveled in circles and "didn't want to ride the same trail a third time". Several of us waited on our return to Chattanooga for lunch and ate at Famous Dave's. Enjoying the hike this morning were Kathy Ryan, Monty Simmons, Jerry Wright, Doug Cooper, Chris O'Connor, hike leader, and Elizabeth O'Connor, co-leader, reporting.
Friends from the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club met the Wednesday Hikers on Highway 68 where the Brady Mtn. trail ends to help us with the car shuttle. The Chattanooga cars were left on the highway and Keith Mertz, Freda Keener, and Pam Reddoch transported us to the trailhead on Jewett Road. What a "random act of kindness"! This 7.3 mile trail needs grooming, but we found our way with clear white blazes on this section of the CT. We found a "field" of Pink Lady Slippers and the Mountain Laurel was freshly blooming out. A new wildflower for us was the Wild Coffee and in addition we found lots of Fire Pink and Solomon Plume. When we came near the site of an old plane crash on this mountain, we found it so overgrown that we decided to come back and look for the wreckage in the fall. You will like this trail as it climbs then turns into a long ridge trail with views on each side, large rock formations, ferns galore and not so lovely knee high poison ivy. The descending part of the trail is through a washed out rocky gulley and the footing is tricky. And yes, we had reserved strawberries at PawPaws that morning. Grateful for the help with a 14 mile shuttle to make this section of the CT easier for us were: Val Hargis, Wayne Chambers, Bill Kinnaman, JD Dickinson, Bob Rahn, Monty Simmons, Debbie Lambert, Gwen Brimer, Pete Rittenberry, Arlene Swallows, Bobby Wilbanks, Larry Parks, Gary Petty, and Che Carico. Keith Mertz, Freda Keener, and Pam Reddoch returned to Highway 68 after leaving us at Jewett Road trailhead and started up the trail to meet us for lunch. Che Carico reporting.
As of Friday evening the weather forecast was for a 50 % chance of rain from mid day on Saturday. Since the probability was only 50%, and we could expect to finish shortly after mid day, we decided to carry on with the hike.
As expected, there was a good variety of wildflowers and butterflies on display, and an opportunity for a pleasant lunch break, in the shade by the lake. Since the rain and thunderstorms seemed to skip past the area, the group was happy to extend the hike slightly, in order to take in the main overlook, the Stone Tower and the �Fort.� The views at all of the overlooks were somewhat hazy, due to the high humidity and low wind conditions, but were still scenic. Enjoying the hike were Donna Ruiz, Amy Gates and Blake Gaston. (For Amy and Blake, this was their first hike with the club.), and Bob Fanning reporting.
Many thanks to Kendra for all of her help, acting as the local contact, while I was out of town.
How blessed are all Chattanooga area hikers to have so many beautiful places to go and wonderful leaders to take us there!! Today Gary Smith took us on a 7.3 mile loop in the Big Frog Wilderness. The loop began on Low Gap trail, turned right on Grassy Gap trail, and then turned right again on Big Creek trail. This time of year we find surprises on all trails and today the unexpected find was the brilliant Flame Azaleas! Sure we saw a smattering of old familiar spring wildflowers, but the azaleas and fully blooming Mtn. Laurel were the best today. Gary is our bear man as he enjoys seeking them out and observing their behavior. Sure, he wanted to come upon one today and observe OUR behavior! This hiker is glad he did not! Lunch was by rushing Big Creek. There was one water crossing of Peter Camp Branch. Some had water shoes, and others just took their chances rock hopping. This loop is complete because Steve Biatowas and Gary Smith rebuilt the trail with switchbacks to make the Low Gap/Grassy Gap/ Big Creek loop passable. For now the trail is quite overgrown in some places but will soon be cleared by 70 students who will come from Michigan for the purpose of trail improvement and building new trails. I can't deny my least favorite part of accessing the trails on this side of the Ocoee is the gravel road that takes you there from Thunder Rock camp ground at powerhouse # 3. Always finding great places when led by Gary were: Stormy McGauley, Richard Park, Debbie Lambert, Kathleen and Darryl Marshall, Kathy Seymour, Bill Kinnaman, Reggie Jay, Val Hargis, Bob Rahn, Gwen Brimer, Mickey Walls (friend, trail builder, friend of Gary, Jessie James(Lee College student and friend of Gary), Tom Blewett, Pete Rittenberry, Linda Busby, Larry Park, JD Dickinson, Sue LeGraf, Gary Petty, and Che Carico reporting.
Before we left our meeting place, I presented Joe Teringer with a handsome tee shirt from the Forest Service as its thanks for the trail maintenance work Joe has done in the Cherokee National Forest. (Joe was not present at a club meeting when Steve Biatowas, with the Forest Service, made tee shirt presentations to others who have performed trail maintenance in the National Forest.)
A beautiful, ideal weekend (sunny, low 70s, breezy), but with a breezy night dropping to the mid- to upper 30s. - After a stop at the South Cumberland Recreation Area Visitor Center and Museum on the way to Savage Gulf, we hiked to the Alum Gap camping area on the enjoyable Big Creek Rim Trail and selected a nice, large, flat site. Lunch, gathered and purified water from the stream, gathered firewood, a trip to Boadtree Falls and Greeter Falls (both flowing fully and beautifully), supper, and a campfire and conversation (reminiscences, kidding, and even some serious) to 10:30. The rangers made their customary rounds just before dark, and confirmed, �yes,� we needed to hang our food. (No, not because of the few bear sightings in Savage Gulf, but because of the very active raccoons that have gnawed their way into packs and tents for foodstuffs.)
On a dayhike 3 weeks earlier, Rita expressed interest in going on this backpack trip, and inquired if one could swim in the Greeter Falls plunge pool. I told her Chris Dohmen and I had swum in it in mid-June, 2006 and found it to be very cold. Rita said she wanted to swim in it. - So, she did. Very briefly, but she did!!
Those getting up between 6:30 and 8:00 Sunday morning and being on time to hike out were Kendra Cross, Rita Febrero, Bill Knoke, Betty Petty, Monty Simmons, Joe Teringer, Brad Walsh, and Donald Box, reporting.
Everything was just perfect for this 6.5 mile springtime hike in the Chattahoochee National Forest. It was a refreshingly cool, breezy day with a clear deep blue sky. The trail, magnificently covered in flowering Mountain Laurel, as Bill best described it, was �a hunk of paradise close to home�. And fourteen friendly, fun-loving hikers all had a great day. Even an unfortunate 30 foot red maple that had fallen across the gravel road leading to the trailhead didn�t slow down this determined bunch of hikers. Led by Boodie and Gary, the big boys grabbed hold of the big tree and tossed it to the side of the road like it was a mere Popsicle stick. OOH RAH. Commendations to Jerry, Gary, Blake, Cole and David for successfully completing their first club hike. Thanks to Orval for taking great pictures. Thanks to the trail angel who baked fresh, homemade, nutritious, oatmeal and raisin cookies (with whole wheat flower and Splenda) for everyone to enjoy during lunch at the top of the Tennessee Geological Divide. Back to Ringgold by 1:00 p.m. after spending the morning trekking through the peaceful woods of northwest Georgia were Wayne Chambers, Bill Kinnaman, Tim Nicholson, Jerry Teague, Orval Porter, John Hyler, Blake Gaston, Cole Gaston, David McCorkle, Boodie Fox, Gary Selcer, Elvis, Carol Cook and Tony Cook reporting.
Another day with a forecast of temps in upper 80s and off we went to hike Black Mtn. Couldn't compromise with a shorter hike on this expected to be very warm day because it is the time of year when Pink Lady Slippers are noted to bloom on the mountain. 20 of us began the hike after parking along highway 68 and walking down Cox Valley Road to the trailhead. This access may change as CT trail developers hope to gain access from another point so as to avoid the walk along busy Cox Valley Road. We are quite familiar with this section from the road to Windless Cave and now find it easier to locate the newly rerouted trail to the top. Yellow Trillium, Larkspur, Fire Pink, Wood Sorrell, an occasional Jack, and Solomon�s Plume were gorgeous along the climbing trail. Then at the top the Lady Slippers were everywhere (we only saw a few along the trail at the bottom) - more than we have ever seen in bloom before!! Gentle breezes and scattered clouds gave relief as we had lunch on top of the huge rocks on the top of Black Mtn. As it was getting much warmer, the hikers were grateful to be going downhill after lunch and to have a cooling break at the cave before hiking on out. On the way home we stopped at PaPaw's Produce (423-332-2278) to pick up the strawberries we had ordered that morning - they happily hold our reserved berries in their cooler. Enjoying fresh picked strawberries that night were: Richard Park, Debbie Lambert, Gary Petty, Val Hargis, Bob Rahn, Gwen Brimer, Larry Park, Linda O'Neal, Bill Kinnaman, Reggie Jay, JD Dickinson, Jennie Chandler, Kathy Seymour, Ray Myers, John Rowland, and Che Carico reporting.
"Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus", and yes Eric Anderson there are gaywings all over the place on the Piney River trail when you catch them at the right time!! Eric was the first one to point out gaywings to us when hiking to Abram's Falls last year and we began to see a few last week when we started out on this trail which is one of our favorites. The trillium were spent, dwarf iris, jack in the pulpit (Jacks), fire pink and buckeye were plentiful, but suddenly the gaywings were absolutely "all over the place". We never knew they would grow and bloom in such a diffuse way - always thought they would be found in isolated clumps. Wish Eric could have been there! I convinced the skeptics to run the shuttle first, then hike from the "bottom up". Some thought I had lost my mind - who would want to climb up a mountain when down would do? At trail's end all admitted it wasn't hard work as expected, and could see the beauty of hiking "against" the rushing water and waterfalls. By the way, also spotted one lone yellow ladyslipper on the spur trail which goes in the opposite direction of the trail down to the riverside with "comfortable seating" for lunch. Blessed today with the company of Richard Park, JD Dickinson, Val Hargis, Trish Appleton, Debbie Lambert, Karen Ramsey, Wayne Chambers, Arlene Swallows, Reggie Jay, Bob Rahn, Tom Blewett, Pete Rittenberry, John Rowland, Gwen Brimer, Bill Kinnaman, Gary Petty, Gail Stokes, Monty Simmons, Linda O'Neal, Cecile Shenouda, Nancy Hoover, Che Carico reporting.
As the raindrops ricochet off my wind-driven rainfly, my thoughts wander back to a conclusion that I had reached earlier this evening - �Bill, I am glad you did not go into the weather-forecasting business.� After a brief shower that morning, he had confidently predicted that we were probably through with the precipitation for the day. Now, feeling the effects of two to three inches of rain at this later point in the day, I could be confident in stating that Bill had reached the wrong conclusion.
Bill, Monty, and I had most recently joined forces this past June when we took the challenge of climbing Mt. Katahdin and trekking through the 100-mile wilderness in northern Maine. During that adventure, we were treated to well over ten inches of rain, inundated trails, strong winds, and heavy fog on most days. This reunion tour had a similar ambiance on this particular day!
The Fires Creek Rim Trail is a remote 25.5 loop that encircles the basin containing Fires Creek in the Nantahala National Forest between Murphy and Hayesville, North Carolina. So remote, in fact, that we did not observe a single hiker over the entire three days we followed its sinuous circuit in the Valley River and Tusquitee Mountains. Being a wilderness trail, one encounters blowdowns, long sections without blazes, and overgrown vegetation along its path. Moreover, the trail is very much New England-like in character due to its lack of switchbacks. One is treated to steep climbs right up and down practically every knob the trail greets along the way. Undulation during ambulation is probably the best way to describe this trail, one that is definitely not designed for the faint-hearted.
One of the highlights of the route is the eastern view from Tusquitee Bald, a small clearing at the top of a peak measuring 5240 feet that the Chunky Gal Trail bisects. We camped in a small meadow near this opening on Saturday night. On Sunday morning, I was mesmerized by shafts of sunlight making momentary attempts at illuminating the thick clouds covering the distant ridgeline, where the Appalachian Trail makes its journey toward Maine. Through the veil of clouds, I could faintly make out Siler Bald, Wine Spring Bald, Wayah Bald, and Nantahala Lake. The present scenario almost made last night�s tumultuous scene a faint memory, except for the chilly reminder generated by my water-logged boots!
By the way, this was the publicized spring wildflower backpack. I would be remiss in not mentioning the dwarf iris, dutchman�s breeches, large white-flowering trillium, bloodroot, trout-lily, spring-beauty, and cut-leaved toothwort that greeted us in the richer coves adjacent to the trail. In addition, the shadbush and silverbells graced the forest floor with their fallen petals.
It was true that Bill Kinnaman, Monty Simmons, and I did not have to spend two grueling days on the road to reach Maine for this particular trip. We had a taste of Maine for three magical days practically in our own backyards! Reported by Kurt Emmanuele.
It was just about perfect hiking weather for our hike out from the Laurel Point picnic area. I had been a bit reluctant to go on this hike and miss a chance to see spring wildflowers, but we soon saw bluets and violets, then pinxster. At the edge of the forest, before crossing the dam, we saw plantain-leaved pussy's toes. The breeze and views made the road walk pleasant, then we took a break at the Visitor Center for photos of the Tennessee River gorge. Back on the Megawatt Trail, we were greeted by rue anemone and star chickweed, and also by a few trail workers from SORBA. They were installing new water bars of an innovative design, made out of flexible strips from an old conveyor belt. The volunteers said the wooden water bars kept having erosion problems. Next to a creek, I admired my first dwarf crested iris of this spring, and we also saw flowering dogwood and wild geranium. A light rain cooled us on the hike back to the picnic area. It was a wonderful hike even though certain hike leaders have raised the bar by bringing Dove chocolate and strawberry shortcake! We had none, but maybe next time... Hiking today were Rita Febrero, Joe Teringer, Gail Stokes, Linda O'Neal, Donald Box, Gale Arden, Wendy Gunn, Bob Fanning, Gerald Casson, Chris O'Connor, hike leader, and Elizabeth O'Connor, co-leader, reporting.
The Great Stone Door was calling us as this is certainly wildflower season! However, it was unseasonably warm and this is a trail best saved for cooler weather. Nonetheless off we went, after leaving a car at the Greeter Falls end and beginning our hike at the Stone Door Ranger Station. This trail begins as a paved walk but soon turns down through the Stone Door and steeply continues down into the gorge with many large rocks in the trail. It was in this section that we saw huge rocks covered with Phacelia and a 3 foot rattlesnake! I do not know where he came from - I only saw him as he had completed his "slither" across the trail and was headed downhill away from us. Bill Kinnaman was in front with several other hikers. I have to wonder just how close Bill came to stepping on this snake! When we bottomed out in the gorge we turned right and headed for the side trail to Ranger Falls. The creek bed was quite dry, but the flowers along this side trail were lovely and the waterfall ample enough to cause a cooling spray on this 85 degree day. After lunching here, we packed up and began the trek back up to the Big Creek Gulf Trail intersection with the Greeter Falls Trail. This portion of the trail boasts rockier walking, Boardtree Falls, and Greeter Falls before ending at the parking lot and trail's end. Most hikers ran out of water today as it was so warm and the trail is rated difficult. When the drivers made the run to pick up the cars at the ranger station, Debbie Lambert stopped and picked up bottled water and Gator Ade to revive the parched hikers. Challenged again by another Cumberland Trail jewel were: Larry Parks, Monty Simmons, Bill Kinnaman, Arlene Swallows, Ray Myers, Debbie Lambert, Kathy Seymour, Bob Rahn, Alice Coffman, Gail Stokes, Gary Petty, Jennie Chandler, Cynthia Cowan, and Che Carico, reporting.
It was a gorgeous day, the views from the summit of Blood Mountain were superb, and the blood root and trillium, which lined the trails of the Chattahoochee National Forest, provided an extra touch. The near-perfect weather made the 1,500 ft/ 2.2-mile ascent of Blood Mountain seem like a piece of cake. If you are into smooth trails with a downhill bias, then you would consider the next 3.6 miles to our lunch stop at Lake Winfield Scott to be ideal. Climbing right after lunch can seem a little tough, but our group of fourteen maintained a steady pace for the 1,000 ft/2.4-mile climb up to Jarrard Gap and Bird Gap on the Appalachian Trail. Here our group split with the following five choosing to climb another 800 feet by returning back over Blood Mountain: Wayne Chambers, Tim Choymn, Larry Dunn, Vardan Ter-Antonyan, Bill Kinnaman, and Ralph van Pelt. Those choosing to do some serious rock-hopping by circumventing the second ascent of Blood Mountain via the Freeman Trail included Kathy Ryan, Steve Barnes, Monty Simmons, Jeanne Dickerson, John Rowland, Jerry Wright, Betsy Darken and Richard Park. After a total of 11 miles of some serious, but fun, hiking, we reconvened at the Walasi-Yi Center at Neels Gap, all smiling. Reported by Richard Park.
What an amazing trail is the North Chickamauga section of the CT! Today I was privileged to take the Wednesday hikers to the top of Montlake Mountain (after leaving a car at the parking area of the now TWRA protected recreation area) and begin the hike with the newly opened section that leads to Stevenson's Branch campsite. This beautiful new section winds by switchbacks down the mountain crossing over, by rock hopping, a creek before coming to the campsite with its lovely waterfall. Careful steps are required for continuing on to the site of previous lunch breaks when accessing from the other end of this trail. Large rocks, steep uphill climbs, and big step ups mark the section from the creek to the ladder, waterfall, and cable crossing. The trail flattens out for a while and passes remnants of old mining shaft entrances. Such amazing geology here and this 9 mile hike is a challenge for anyone. If you want to do this hike as a through hike I will gladly share directions and tips about finding the trail after parking on Barker Camp Road. There were not so many wildflowers here today as I have seen before - guess just a little early. Tired but gratified were: Bill Kinnaman, Arlene Swallows, Bob Rahn, Georgina Sands, Karen Ramsey, Larry Parks, Val Hargis, Linda O'Neal, Wayne Chambers, JD Dickinson, Darryl Morgan , Pete Rittenberry, Gail Stokes, Ray Myers, Monty Simmons, and Che Carico, reporting.
Thirteen hikers was the symbolic perfect number for this special hike. We thoroughly enjoyed the deep clear blue sky and a temperature in the 50's. After a 5 mile hike with the wind at our backs in which we took in the panorama of two beautiful overlooks and slid behind a 40 foot water fall, we ate lunch in the warm sunshine at a picnic table. After a dessert of sugar-free Angel Food Cake, fresh strawberries and cool whip topping, we hiked another 2 miles to the remote site where a Navy jet on a low flying training mission crashed four years ago. The crater in the earth is now a small pond and the sunlight came through the open canopy of tall trees and made a beautiful reflection on the still surface of the water. We unfurled the American flag and called out the names of Commander Dave Roark, Lieutenant Jason Manse, First Lieutenant Jason Davis, and Ensign Elizabeth Bonn who died right where we stood in the service of our country. We observed a moment of silence in their honor, where the only sounds were the gentle wind blowing through the trees, a few crickets chirping beside the water and a chickadee perched on a red maple heralding the beginning of spring. As Donna and Linda respectfully folded the flag with its 50 stars and 13 stripes, someone made the comment, �Is this a great country or what!� Indeed it is. Feeling blessed on a beautiful early spring day were Monte Simmons, Gail Stokes, Steve Barnes, Gail Arden, Donna Ruiz, Lindy Johnson, Reggie Jay, Boodie Fox, Arlene Swallows, Linda O�Neal, Orval Porter, Carol Cook, and Tony Cook reporting.
On this fine day, warmer temperatures and sunny skies were finally in the forecast. Off we took to the Beech Bottom Trail with leader Gary Smith leading us a new way to the trailhead. Beech Bottom is one of my favorites except for the ten miles of winding road, most of which is dirt and gravel. The rewards are sweet, however, as this gentle hike leads to the Jack's River and a wonderful cascade of waterfalls. Most of you have hiked other sections of the Jack's River trail which included multiple river crossings. This trail has several rock hopping places, but today no need to remove boots. There were no wildflowers of note, but one large patch of daffodils! Lunch was by the waterfalls and they were loud enough to prevent conversation. Those who doubted this trail could be worth the rough drive, but who were pleasantly surprised by its beauty were: Stormy McGauley, Georgina Sands, Debbie Lambert, Bill Kinnaman, John Rowland, Patti Giles, Reggie Jay, Ray Myers, JD Dickinson, Val Hargis, Bob Rahn, Larry Parks, Gail Stokes, Arlene Swallows, Margaret Reisman, Gary Petty, Monty Simmons, and Che Carico, reporting.
It was whispered that our fearless club president (and you know who that is!) couldn't keep his pants up or rather his bottoms on!! Better ask him for an explanation.
It was a great day to begin a backpack trip; a cool crisp morning followed by a beautiful, warm afternoon filled with lots of sunshine. The trailhead for the beginning of this backpack is located at Beersheba Springs on TN56 between McMinnville and Tracy City where you turn East on a side road marked with a state park sign. After signing our group in Bill Kinnaman, our trip leader, showed us the route on the park map. It was was going to be long day to Hobbs Cabin.
About 0.9 mile from the Ranger station we hit Big Creek Gulf Trail which heads down (very steep) stone steps through the Great Stone Door, a very impressive crack in the cliff face used for hundreds of years as a way in and out of Big Creek Gulf. We encountered a group of Boy Scouts and Outdoor Adventurers hiking and rappelling the cliff face.
We continued down the first of many boulder fields until we hit the Connector Trail. From that point it is 6.7 miles to Hobbs Cabin, our destination for the night. Along the way, we saw Spring Beauties in bloom along with lots of White and Purple Hepatica and quite a few shades in between. It will not be long until the area is covered with a wide array of Trillium, along with many other spring flowers. After negotiating our first boulder field of the day, at Big Creek Gulf, we waited for Kendra to slowly shuffle her way across the first of many suspension bridges on this hike.
It is hard to imagine, but you will cross the old McMinnville/Chattanooga Stagecoach Road. How in the world did they make this road through this challenging terrain back then. Amazing!
Just prior to lunch at the entrance to Saw Mill camp ground, we passed the Cator Savage Cabin Historic Site. It sits nestled in a small clearing just below the trail. The original structure was built in 1910 by Cator Savage, a descendent of the original settler, Samuel Savage, for whom Savage Gulf is named. The remote location of this cabin gives one a deeper understanding of why they only went to town maybe twice a year and the independent nature and courage of those early settlers.
After the last 1.9 miles (not 1 mile, Bill!) of boulder hopping from Savage Creek up to Collins River Gulf and a very steep assent up to the North Rim to the Hobbs Cabin camp area, we set up camp in area 5 where Jean, who had acquired some unwelcomed blisters, quickly consumed her supper and made an early retirement. The rest of the group set up camp, ate and enjoyed the beautiful stars and moonlight before retiring for the night. Sorry Bob, we didn't take advantage of the kitchen sink that you brought with you!
The next morning, after a good breakfast, we broke camp. Kendra, Monty and Jean hiked out on the North Rim Trail, an easier hike for tired legs and blistered feet. Bob, Doug and Bill hiked back to the Stone Door. Both teams were racing the weather coming in from the West. Many thanks to Bill for a terrific backpack experience and driving an extra hour back to pick the three of us up who had hiked the North Rim back to the Savage Gulf Ranger Station. Those enjoying this backpack were Monty Simmons, Doug Cooper, Bob Rahn, Jean Dickinson, Kendra Cross and leading his first trip for the hiking club Bill Kinnaman. Trip report by Jean Dickinson and Kendra Cross.
The early morning welcomed us with clear skies and temperatures in the upper 30's at Red Top Mountain State Park just outside Cartersville, Georgia. The cool start soon gave way to brilliant sunshine and a delightfully warm spring day. Layers were shed as the eight of us made our way along the shoreline of Lake Allatoona. A few flowers poked their way up through the downed leaves of winter, and buds appeared on many of the hardwoods covering the hills and ridges. The early spring foliage offered us superb views of the lake from the winding trail high above. After a 4 mile hike along the Iron Hill Trail, which featured beautiful reflections of the forest in the glassy-smooth water of the lake, our attention turned to the 5.5 mile Homestead Loop. Rock outcrops, short-needle pines, and the Allatoona shoreline made for a tranquil lunch stop along the way. Enjoying this pleasant spring day were: Cheryl Hale, Jane Seale, Rita Febrero, Ralph Van Pelt, Eric and Michelle Anderson, Elizabeth O'Connor, and Chris O'Connor reporting.
As I went from car to car in the meeting place parking lot, trying to stay at least somewhat dry under my umbrella, I questioned the people who showed up as to whether we really wanted to do this. By a vote of 2 in favor, 1 against (that was me!), and 5 abstentions, our fate was sealed! But by the time we reached the parking area at the trailhead, the rain had stopped. So off we went, dressed in rain gear, hoping for the best, but prepared to get wet. Surprisingly we reached the falls without any more rain! The falls and the creek above and below were gushing, and we stayed a short while to enjoy. On the way back we did run into a little more light precipitation, but not too bad considering the dire forecast. Lunch was at the Purple Daisy at the foot of Ochs Hwy. Slightly damp but undeterred hikers were Bill Kinnaman, Owen Holbrook, Monty Simmons, Boodie Fox, Patti Giles, Karen Dale, very welcome guest Amy Hunt, and John Rowland reporting.
From Coker Creek eastward, about half a mile in, Steve Barnes helped with the continuation of digging out a section that needed reconstruction. The rest of us brushed out the trail ahead, continuing eastward. The first half mile or so was quite overgrown, taking quite a bit of time to do. Then we continued about another mile and a half, do more trimming, sliding a sizeable fallen log downhill off the trail, and building piles of small logs and branches to mark four switchbacks that were hard to spot. We also noted the need for some fresh blazes in that area. Participating were Steve Barnes, Ralph Van Pelt, Jean Dickenson, Bill Kinnaman, Betty Petty, and John Rowland, reporting.
We walked again today into a winter wonderland on top of Chilhowie Mountain! The hike, led by Gary Smith, began at the trailhead off of TN 30 as we climbed to the top via the Clear Creek Trail. There was a water crossing near the beginning that was a bit testy as it was so very cold, the water was deeper than expected, and no-one wanted to get wet feet. I did not know until reviewing pictures that JD had taken off her boots and socks to wade rather than risk getting water in her boots! The rest of us rock hopped/slipped across and some did suffer the rest of the cold hike with wet socks. Because of the likelihood of encountering high water again, we did not take the Rim Rock Trail over to the Benton Falls trail for lunch, but continued on Clear Creek and cut through the woods to get to the falls. Lunch was fairly quick as it was cold - a few snowballs were thrown down from the top at those trying to eat near the bottom of the falls! About 5 inches of snow on the ground and fresh snow flocking the trees made for our 4th hike in snowy winter beauty this year. The Clemmer Trail meandered down the mountain as a dark path through the piled up snow. In spite of the cold we had a big crowd: Jim Tousek, Patti Giles, Val Hargis, Ray Myers, Kathy Seymour, Jennie Chandler, Gwen Brimer, Debbie Lambert, Pete Rittenberry, JD Dickinson, Bill Kinnaman, Gary Petty, Bob Rahn, John Rowland, Arlene Swallows, Larry Parks, Monty Simmons, Linda Busby, Gary Smith, and Che Carico.
Fifteen of us gathered on a cool morning for an over-all perfect day for hiking as the sun warmed the day tp moderate temperatures and those choosing to go coatless were glad. After an hour or so some others wished that they had also gone coatless. This is a section of the Cumberland Trail, beginning off Highway 111 and making its way down to and along Board Camp Creek deep in the gorge but just short of reaching Soddy Creek. After descending the �fabulous steps�, we passed under a huge bluff line and then returned a ways to a short side path to the creek. There we enjoyed our lunch while basking in the sun on large flat rocks in the dry side of the creek before returning to our cars. Hikers were Debbie Lambert, Bill Kinnaman, newcomer Gary Selcer, Patti and Ned Giles, Monty Simmons, Che Carico, Arlene Swallows, Kendra Cross, Karis Leib, Joe Terringer, Lloyd and Karna Levitt, John Rowland and hike header Boodie Fox, reporting.
Today the Wednesday hikers became Wednesday birders! We boarded the Blue Moon ecocruise boat in Sale Creek and headed upriver with Captain Dave, Rick, and the crew for a 3 1/2 hour tour of the Hiawassee Refuge. Binoculars were provided and a delicious lunch featuring Shuford's barbeque. The most notable sighting was the bald eagle sitting on her nest! She has chicks which have been spotted. Other sightings were of Sandhill cranes, egrets, loons, gulls, blue herons, and at least 3 other bald eagles (some immature) either sitting on a tree limb or flying overhead. The Blue Moon has now moved below the dam for the summer season and tours through the Tennessee River Gorge. Look this up at bluemooncruise.org and plan a trip which includes lessons in geology, wildlife, and native history given by captains Dave Anderson and Rick Houlk. Attending today were: John Rowland, Val Hargis, Bob Rahn, Karen Rahn, Margaret Reisman, Carole Klimesch, Faye Nunez, Carolyn Perry, Gail Stokes, Stormy McGauley, Kathleen Conner, Pete Rittenberry, Reggie Jay, Patti Giles, Arlene Swallows, Mary Hannon, and Che Carico. Also with us on this trip were Ken Dubke (well known local birder) and George Archibald (co-founder and senior conservationist with the International Crane Foundation). Both men had great information about the ongoing efforts to protect and increase the population of the Sandhill cranes. Reported by Che Carico.
The snow was disappearing from the forecast, but not before I moved the Smokies hike to Lookout Mtn. Nine of us gathered on what proved to be the first sunny and warm day in quite a while. Even so, we encountered a trail full of slick ice above Upper Truck and did an about face to hike the Skyuka Springs trail instead of Bluff trail.
What a wonderful day-finally able to shed the extra layers and pull out the sunglasses. We had a vigorous discussion about John Hyler and Tim Nicholson and their recent snow cave adventure, just below the summit of Mt. LeConte. Ask them to tell you the story sometime! Our group lunched/snacked at Skyuka Springs, then hiked back a la carte. Susan Faidley, Spears McAllester, John Hyler, and Owen Holbrook left Lower Truck to get in some more climbing. Wayne Chambers and Bill Kinnaman also took an uphill trail on the way back. Monty Simmons, Cyrus Baghai, and I headed straight back towards the Nature Center. I do still want to get back to the Smokies! Elizabeth O'Connor, reporting.
If you have stepped through the wardrobe in the movie �The Chronicles of Narnia� you can imagine what we found in the Grundy Forest today. Having called to confirm the trail was open we knew to expect at least 5 inches of snow. This beautiful virgin snow (ours were the first footsteps after several days of new snow) was accompanied by very long and beautifully formed icicles, and tree branches piled high with the fresh powder. The evergreens looked like flocked Christmas trees! Since the rocks were covered and the path a bit tricky, we decided to hike the day loop only but to also include the trek out to Sycamore Falls. The falls and creeks were running rapidly and their spray had frozen on the surrounding vegetation making the wonderland all the more dramatic. We followed the rule of the trail to leave no trace - only footprints - and we left plenty of those. This is a familiar trail for many Chattanooga area hikers - just wanted you to plan a trip when there has been snow in East Tennessee. The plateau always gets more than the valleys, yet the trail remains passable especially if you hit new snow. Thrilled with today's adventure and lunch at the Sportsman were: Linda Busby, Val Hargis, Bill Kinnaman, Monty Simmons, Trish Appleton, Arlene Swallows, Gary Petty, Patti Giles, Sharon Hogan, Jim Tousek, JD Dickinson, Bob Rahn, Carole Klimesch, Margaret Reisman, Reggie Jay, Larry Parks, John "ever lovin' picture takin'" Rowland, and Che Carico, reporting.
As of Friday evening there was snow falling and predictions of icy roads overnight. However, the forecast for Saturday was for partly sunny to sunny with temperatures above freezing. The weather forecasters seemed to be trying hard to discourage us from hiking. After considerable discussion it was decided to stick to the plan and hike on Saturday. As it turned out the weather forecast was correct, the snow stopped falling on Friday evening and the roads were better than expected. Saturday was indeed a fairly sunny day, with no wind so it was pleasant to be out. There was just enough snow to provide a beautiful white tracery on the tree branches, outline the contours of the landscape and allow us to try to interpret stories from the tracks in the snow. Most of the group were lucky enough to see a large flock of wild turkeys, some of whom flew up and roosted high in some trees. Some members of the group examined the entrails of a large, dead bird. (The examination did not seem to lead to any predictions about the future.) At the end of the hike John Rowland generously shared the secret of the location of his famous banana pudding dessert, for those who were hungry.
Enjoying the hike were Monty Simmons, Faye and Melvin Nunez, Kendra Cross, Carolyn Perry, Cyrus Hoss Baghai, Bill Kinnaman, Joel and Sharon Gallup, Jane Ann and Bob Seale, Wendy Gunn, John Rowland, Patti Giles and Bob Fanning reporting. Many thanks to Kendra for all of her help, acting as the local contact.
No-one rang the "covered dish dinner bell" today but there were 22 hikers signed up! Our destination was Signal Point on Signal Mtn. to Suck Creek Road (TN27). This is another trail on the Tennessee River Gorge Segment of the CT and its distance is 8.4 miles. The Signal Mtn. hikers plus John Rowland provided the car shuttle. This included Richard Parks who is recovering from rotator cuff surgery. As Richard is able to drive (not hike), he helped take hikers to Signal Point, then returned to Suck Creek in the afternoon to bring the Signal Mtn. hikers back up to their cars. THANKS RICHARD!!! Though cloudy at first, the river views from Signal Point and Edward's Point were impressive - the river level is so very high right now and the "suck" currents quite visible from on high. The only hazards on the trail from Signal Point to Rainbow Lake were the damp wooden bridges and ramps. The typical CT rocks were dry and ice free although some areas of the woods still had quite a bit of snow. Julia Falls were amazing as seen from the Signal Point side of the gorge - I have never witnessed so much water in that waterfall. From Edward's Point you have a great view of a stretch of the "Grand Canyon of Tennessee. We walked on about another hour and then enjoyed lunch with the sun now brightly shining and skies clear. All creeks along this trail had lots of water and the mosses were vividly green. After regrouping at Mushroom Rock the long line of hikers wound down to North Suck Creek, crossed the swinging bridge, and began the short hike up and over the last little ridge. The beauty of winter is vivid when leaves are down, evergreens more visible, the ups and downs of the terrain revealed, and the creeks, streams, and waterfalls roaring. Enjoying all of this were: Pete Rittenberry, Val Hargis, Patti Giles, Reggie Jay, Bill Kinnaman, Steve Minton, John Rowland, Cynthia Cowan, Arlene Swallows, Monte Simmons, Gary Petty, Vicki Armour, Karen Ramsey, Linda Busby, Cecile Shenouda, Jennie Chandler, Kathy Seymour, Larry Parks, Trish Appleton, Gwen Brimer, and Che Carico. Reporting.
As we continue our quest to hike all of the segments of the Cumberland Trail that are open, today we hiked what is called a side trail of the CT in the Tennessee River Gorge Segment. The Tennessee River Gorge Segment is described as one of the most beautiful segments on the CT system. We began our hike at Snooper's Rock and continued clockwise to the Natural Bridge, Raccoon Mtn. Overlook, McNabb's campsite and out to Tower Road where we had left cars for those who wanted to hike 8.9 miles. This was the first time I have hiked this section clockwise and was it ever so different and, I think, more beautiful! Perhaps the difference is because of the rain we have had since last fall. The evergreens including holly and laurel were so very green and we walked "against" the flow of the creeks which were rushing with more water than I have ever seen. After our sunny lunch on the rock outcroppings at Raccoon Mtn. Overlook (a striking overlook of the Tennessee River Gorge), all proceeded on to Tower Road where most climbed into cars to return home. These 4 hikers continued on the trail to complete the loop: Debbie Lambert, Larry Parks, Gary Petty, and Bill Kinnaman. The 8.9 milers were Reggie Jay, Trish Appleton, Gary Smith, Ray Myers, Gwen Brimer, Karen Ramsey, Jennie Chandler, Val Hargis, Arlene Swallows, Vicki Armour, Sharon Hogan, JD Dickenson, Cynthia Cowen, Kathy Seymour, Patti Giles, Stormy McGauley, Pete Rittenberry, and Che Carico, reporting.
After assembling at Ooltewah on what promised to be a beautiful day, the caravan proceeded to the TVA parking lot on the Hiwassee at Reliance where we met those hikers who lived closer to the trailhead than to Chattanooga. We drove 7 � miles on a Forest Service road which was muddy and badly rutted in places and a man with a chainsaw had just finished removing some downed trees in the road as we came past. The day lived up to its promise and the sunlight sparkled on the clear, blue rushing waters of Lost Creek. Despite the trail being a little soggy and one of the side streams being a wee bit high, we had a beautiful walk beside this unknown stream. At lunch we sat at the juncture where the BMT leaves Lost Creek and there is a sign. Several were amazed that it was only one mile back to the TVA parking lot from there, but over a mountain and across a wide (and at this time, deep) stream. It is not often that I can pull out a location that only one other hiker had been to before. This is especially true when our group included several original members of this club! Hikers enjoying this trip were Lynne Finnell Karna and Lloyd Levitt, Faye and Melvin Nunez, Linda O�Neal, Carolyn Perry, Monty Simmons, Ralph Van Pelt, Kang Wang, Don Bodley, Larry Dunn, Brenda Montooth, and Kathy Seymour. Reported by hike leader Betty Petty.
The rain in the forecast made us change our hike today so we could leave the forest by noon. We took the 4.5 mile loop which begins in the upper parking lot at the Harrison Bay Marina. This is an uneventful trail although the lake is always within sight and we did see deer and wood ducks. It is a good hike to have in your "portfolio", however, for such a day as this. Sure enough as we neared the completion of the loop and our cars it began to sprinkle. The rain was falling hard as we pulled into Logan's Roadhouse for lunch. I never want to disappoint the Wednesday Hikers by calling off a hike and today really got lucky to have this trail and a morning walk to enjoy with them. Hikers were: JD Dickinson, Kathy Seymour, Bob Rahn, Val Hargis, Debbie Lambert, Reggie Jay, Arlene Swallows, Trish Appleton, Bill Kinnaman, Gary Petty, Pete Rittenberry, Cecile Shenouda, Jennie Chandler, and Che Carico, reporting
The threat of rain didn't keep fourteen hikers from climbing Pigeon Mountain. We took a minute to look at the Blue Hole and then climbed the caver's trail to the top of the mountain, and then did an out and back on the West Rim/Pocket Loop to High Point. Despite the weather there was a view, but a cold drizzle put a damper on lunch. We repacked and hiked down, taking a slightly different way back to the trail head. The rain eased and did not recommence till we drove out.
Hiking were: Sarah Frost, Monty Simmons, Tony and Carol Cook, Lloyd and Karna Levitt, Kendra Cross, Boodie Fox, Kim O'Leary, Betty Petty, Kurt Emmanuel and without raincoat or Wellies, Wayne Chambers. Ralph Van Pelt, reporting.
The Wednesday Hikers have begun a quest to hike all of the Cumberland Trail sections in an orderly fashion and to mark them on a map as we do them. Today we hiked the Mullins Cove Loop (counter-clockwise) in the Tennessee River Gorge section. This is the smaller of the two loops in the Prentiss Cooper State Forest. On this cold winter day we found lots of fresh snow remaining in the protected hollows. The water along the creek was frozen into long icicles and beautiful formations. The snow made the evergreen forest so beautiful! The trail was free of water and ice for the most part - just had to step carefully near the creek as so much snow powdered the rocks there. Lunch break was taken around another roaring fire at the Hemlock Falls campsite. We then took the trail on over to Snooper's Rock for a view of the river on a crystal clear day, and continued on to Indian Rock House and out to the parked cars. This seemed to be a perfect time of year to hike this trail - snow still in the forest, and trees with no leaves allowing an amazing view of the river and surrounding mountains. Today's hikers were: Bill Kinnaman, Reggie Jay, Bob Rahn, John Rowland, Val Hargis, Debbie Lambert, Jim Tousek (new hiker), John Searcy, Margaret Reisman, Karen Ramsey, Vickie Armour, Arlene Swallows, Ray Myers, Gary Petty, Pete Rittenberry, Cynthia Cowan, and Che Carico, reporting.
If we thought it was cold last week, we were mistaken! The temperature at the outset of our hike to Laurel Falls was 14 degrees! It had been so cold and there had been rain before the cold set in, so the search began for frozen ice sculptures. We were not disappointed as there were so many frozen areas on the banks and around the rocks of Richland Creek, icicles hanging from the bluffs, and a frozen panorama surrounding Laurel Falls. No ice was on the trail which you know can be quite rocky and we were sure there were no snakes hiding in the rock tunnel/cave you must pass through on this trail. After enjoying the beauty of the partially frozen Laurel Falls, we turned left up toward the bluff and continued on just to the Indian Rock House. There, bathed in full sun, the guys built a fire in the fire pit and we warmly enjoyed our lunches. Marshmallows and cooking sticks had been brought in for dessert. Since the sun was slowly melting icicles on the bluff above us, it was easy to put out the fire with those which had fallen nearby (we learned quickly not to walk under the icicles!). Casting off hand warmers as we trekked out were: Richard Park, Cynthia Cowan, Val Hargis, Bob Rahn, Gary Petty, Kathy Seymour, Patti Giles, Stormy McGauley, Larry Parks, Sherry Kitts (new hiker on Wednesday), John Rowland, Pete Rittenberry, Arlene Swallows, Sharon Hogan, Bill Kinnaman, and Che Carico, reporting.
In spite of earlier predictions of very cold temperatures and possibly rain (or some white stuff flurries), 16 people enjoyed a good start to 2010 with the club�s traditional New Year�s Day hike in Prentice Cooper State Forest. In cool (but not badly cold) temperature, and with a bit of sunshine most of the day, they hiked a section of the Pot Point Loop Trail. (Several people who had originally planned on going did not, for various reasons: weather concerns, sickness, being butted in the face in the dark by a goat, etc.)
Some hiked the portion of the trail toward the Ransom Hollow Overlook, on to Hemlock Branch, Snoopers Rock Overlook, and then to the parking area. Others hiked to the Raccoon Mountain Overlook, the Natural Bridge, Snoopers Rock, and then the parking area. On our way to the trailhead, some saw a healthy looking coyote run across the road in front of our caravan, and later some heard (but did not see) a number of Sandhill Cranes (perhaps feeding at one of the numerous wildlife clearings in Prentice Cooper).
Those enjoying the day, hike, and companionship were Eric & Michelle Anderson, Sheila Bailey, Doug Cooper, Karen Dale, Susan Faidley, Sarah Frost, Janet Hale, Laura Jackson, Bill Kinnaman, Spears McAllester, Faye & Melvin Nunez, Trevor Slayton, Ralph VanPelt, and Donald Box, reporting.