Monday, December 29, 2008

Deep Creek

A phone call from Jan Agee suggesting a Soddy Gorge hike prompted two more calls to other Soddy Daisy TTA members who no longer have employment obligations and presto… we had a group of hikers, Jan Agee, Brandy Selman, George Bonneau, Ed Swanner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins, ready to hit the trail. Starting at Hotwater Road / Sluder Lane trailhead placed us in Little Soddy Historic Mining Area just a few hundred feet down the trail. Many stops were made in the mining area as we examined and discussed the numerous preliminary historic markers recently placed by Steve Smith and Jim Schroeder. A few miles farther down the trail we arrived at Deep Creek area where we walked on trail that had just been rebuilt after being damaged by rock miners. A non-official exit up an abandoned mining road and a few back roads took us back to awaiting vehicles.

Slide show of Don's photos

Group photo at entrance to old coal mine

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lookout Mountain

Mike White, Mark Jordan, Teresa Jordan, Jan Agee, Brandy Selman, Carla Hilling, Caroline Woerner, George Bonneau, Ed Swanner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins made a trip to Lookout Mountain which today was hidden in clouds. Although the hike did not go exactly as planned, those not familiar with the area learned the location of historic Cravens House and a back door entrance to Point Park. We’ll try this again, hopefully on a day when the spectacular views are not shrouded in fog.

Hike began and ended at historic Cravens House

Point Park was in clouds today

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mullins Cove

With rain in the forecast, Judy Varner, TC Varner, Tom Grable, Teresa Jordan, Mark Jordan, Carla Hilling, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins packed our rain jackets and headed to Prentice Cooper Wildlife Management Area for a hike around Mullins Cove Loop. Spring like temperatures and no rain during the first 3 miles prompted removal of rain gear and cool weather clothing, leaving most of us in short sleeves. During lunch break at Haley Road, rain clouds moved in and began to release a light sprinkle. A very light rain continued for the next 2 miles and gradually increased as we walked the sixth mile. By trail's end most of us were beginning to get wet pants from water running off our rain jackets. Mother Nature was kind enough to save the heavy rain until after we were in vehicles and on our way home.

Slide show of Don's photos

8 hikers ready for 6+ miles in Prentice Cooper

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Trail of Tires Clean-up

Judy Varner, TC Varner, Caroline Woerner, Ed Swanner, and Don Deakins of Soddy Daisy TTA joined the CTC staff, park ranger Dan Basham, and 11 hard working college students from Grand Valley State University in Michigan for a day of maintenance and clean-up on a section of trail in Soddy Gorge that parallels Hotwater Road. This segment, sometimes referred to as “Trail of Tires”, is littered with automobile tires and other trash. Many bags of garbage were hauled out today and although we did not remove any tires, we did consolidate them into piles which will facilitate future removal efforts. Numerous trail repairs and improvements were also completed.

Slide show of today's photos

Caroline doing what she likes best, trail maintenance

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Deep Creek Trail Repair

Mark Jordan and Don Deakins joined the CTC staff, 11 college students from Michigan, and Kurt Emanuelle from Chattanooga Hiking Club for a grueling day of gathering big rocks and building steps on the Soddy Gorge segment of Cumberland Trail near Deep Creek. This stretch of trail along with much of the mountain side was destroyed by rock miners. Although damage to the mountain side cannot be repaired, the trail is being restored to better than original condition.

Mark Jordan building steps

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Stinging Fork Trail Repair

Judy Varner, TC Varner, Lora Smith, Ed Swanner, and Don Deakins of Soddy Daisy TTA joined CTC staff, Lisa Huff, numerous park rangers, and a bus load of college students from UT in Knoxville for a day of trail building and trail maintenance at Stinging Fork near Spring City. Much hard work was completed but many more days like today will be required to get this entire trail up to Cumberland Trail specifications.

Lora Smith raked non-stop all day

College students building trail

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bridge Pays Off

After yesterday's heavy rain, Judy Varner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins were curious about conditions at the recently completed Possum Creek Bridge so we hiked from Heiss Mountain Road to the bridge site for an inspection. Creek flow was sufficient to make a safe creek crossing impossible and, without this bridge, hikers would have to end their walk at creek's edge. However, with bridge in place, the creek now poses no barrier. We are beginning to reap the benefits of this construction project.

Whitewater under Big Possum Creek Bridge

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Stone Door

Sara Pollard of Murfreesboro Chapter joined Jan Agee, Brandy Selman, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins for a hike to Stone Door at Savage Gulf State Park. This hike could more accurately be described as a stroll. It was an easy 2 mile round trip which required a jaunt down through Stone Door and extracurricular exploration around the rock climbing area to get our heart rate up. Upon our return to the parking lot, Sara headed back to Murfreesboro while Soddy Daisy members went to Savage Gulf ranger station for a slide presentation where we learned about history and content of the park.

Slide show of Don's photos

Natural overlook at Stone Door

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Black Mountain

Teresa Jordan, Mark Jordan, Carla Hilling, Lora Smith, Jan Agee, Brandy Selman, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins joined 14 hikers from Plateau Chapter on a chilly winter morning for a 4.5 mile hike from top of Black Mountain to Cox Valley Road. Two overlooks and a stop at Windless Cave were highlights of the trip. Thanks to Joe Matlock for planning and leading this outing.

Slide show of Don's photos

Group photo at Windless Cave

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Rock Creek

Today’s hikers, Harry Tirey, Mark Jordan, Teresa Jordan, Greg Jordan, Manni Jordan, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins did not let the threat of rain change plans for this approximate 7 mile walk at Rock Creek. We met at Leggett Road Lower Trailhead, parked two vehicles there, and shuttled over to Retro Hughes Trailhead where the hike began. About 1.5 miles down the trail we encountered a member of Chattanooga Hiking Club, Boodie Fox, and his friend, Leslie Eubank. After a short discussion and group photo, we proceeded on toward the new Rock Creek Bridge. Upon reaching the bridge, we paused for lunch and a group photo on the bridge to document our first crossing. Our next stop, just a short distance down the trail, was Rock Creek Campsite where we visited the adjacent deep pool. Rock Creek Overlook, two miles further down the trail, was the next point of interest where we stopped to enjoy the view and take a few photos. From there we made a bee line to the lower trailhead with one final stop along Rock Creek at what appears to be a popular swimming hole during the warmer months.

Slide show of Don's photos

Group photo with Boodie Fox and Leslie Eubank

Our first time crossing the new Rock Creek Bridge

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Blue Blazes

A last minute call from Caroline Woerner suggesting we inspect Blue Blazes Trail at Moccasin Bend in preparation for her weekend Chattanooga Hiking Club maintenance event resulted in recruitment of Harry Tirey, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins as her assistants. We carried 3 pruning shears and 1 bow saw, and therefore, the inspection quickly turned into a maintenance event. Although we removed many trail obstructions, plenty remain to keep Chattanooga Hiking Club busy for an entire day.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Signal Point to 27

Bill and Deborah Taber of Nashville TTA, Don Taylor of Nashville TTA, Levonn Hubbard of Plateau TTA, Jim McCullough of Plateau TTA, Judy Varner, George Bonneau, Lora Smith, Mark Jordan, Teresa Jordan, Wesley Jordan, Jan Agee, Brandy Selman, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins were not discouraged by sub-freezing temperatures. After staging a few vehicles on Suck Creek Road, we shuttled up to Signal Point where we enjoyed the view from the overlook and then found our way over to the trailhead. Just a short distance down the trail was our first stop, Julia Falls Overlook, where we took a short break to take in the view. About 1 mile further down the trail was Middle Creek Suspension Bridge where we slowed down for a few photos and then proceeded on toward Edwards Point. At Edwards Point, almost 3 miles into the hike, we stopped for lunch, enjoyed the spectacular view, and took a few photos. The next 4 miles, a relatively easy walk, snaked along the canyon rim until arriving at Mushroom Rock where we stopped for another break and put the digital cameras to work. The final 1.5 miles consisted of a long steep descent to North Suck Creek, crossing a 150 foot suspension bridge over the creek, a long steep ascent out of the gorge, and another steep descent to Suck Creek Road where our vehicles were waiting.

Slide show of Don's photos

Our first stop, Julia Falls Overlook

Our last stop, Mushroom Rock

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Harry Tirey, Sharon Tirey, Judy Varner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins visited the Greenway in Hixson for the second time this month. Today’s walk began at parking area on Hamill Road, proceeded to the presently closed parking area near Chickamauga Dam with a photo op stop in the quarry, and then retraced our steps back to Hamill Road. We ended this event with a stop at Arby’s to replenish any calories we may have burned off.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Imodium Falls

Judy Varner, TC Varner, their granddaughter Emily Duncan, Mark Jordan, Jan Agee, Brandy Selman, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins got together on very short notice for this Sunday trip to Little Possum Creek Falls. The weather was just a little cool but everyone agreed it was almost perfect for hiking. As usual, TC carried his trusty ax so we were able to remove numerous fallen trees from the trail as we made our way from Retro Hughes trailhead to our destination a short distance past Little Possum Creek Falls. An extended break at the falls followed by a short walk to our previously staged vehicles ended a perfect day on the Cumberland Trail.

Slide show of Don's photos

Group photo at Little Possum Creek Falls (Imodium Falls)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Stinging Fork Maintenance

Three members of the Soddy Daisy TTA spent Saturday morning volunteering on the Stinging Fork Section of the Cumberland Trail. Lora Smith, Jan Agee, and Brandy Selman braved the cooler temps and intermittent rain showers to help repair this often overlooked section of trail. Due to the inclement weather, only 7 dedicated people showed up for duty today so the plan of restoring the stairs did not come to fruition. We did, however, manage to remove a large section of overgrown briars and numerous fallen trees from the upper section as well as construct a portion of a rock staircase about halfway down the winding trail. Two other volunteers, Sandy and Paige Eslinger were able to rake all of the leaves off the entire trail. Shortly after lunch the weather took a change for the worse and coordinator Alex Schafer made the call to end the day early, and left us with a friendly reminder that this project will be continued at a later date. We assured him that the Soddy Daisy chapter would be there to lend a helping hand.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Signal Point to 27 Inspection

In preparation for the November 22 hike, Mark Jordan, Caroline Woerner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins performed an inspection and minor maintenance on the Signal Point to Highway 27 segment of Cumberland Trail. Using Caroline's bow saw and brute force we were able to remove numerous obstructions from the 8.4 mile section. After leaving Edwards Point we discovered that we should have brought pruning shears. There are many overhanging briars that need to be removed so anyone who plans to participate in the November 22 event should bring their shears.

Enjoying view from overlook near Edwards Point

Taking break at Mushroom Rock

Monday, November 10, 2008

Heiss Rd to Big Possum Creek

Judy Varner, Lisa Davis, Jane Young, George Bonneau, Mark Jordan, Brandy Selman, Harry Tirey, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins took advantage of perfect hiking weather and made the approximate 3 mile round trip from Heiss Mountain Road trailhead to Big Possum Creek and back. Upon arrival at the creek we took an extended break while a few hikers explored the surrounding area and others had lunch. After the break we posed for a group photo and then began the uphill walk back to our awaiting vehicles.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Perkins Point

Today’s 5.5 mile trek from Heiss Mountain Road to Perkins Point and back was arranged on short notice and resulted in only 4 participants from Soddy Daisy TTA but there were many other hikers and trail runners on this section of trail. At the end of this 4.5 hour outing we headed over to the Little Soddy Historic Mining Area on Hotwater Road for some fossil hunting. We didn’t find any Tyrannosaurus rex bones but ended the day with a pocket full of plant fossils.

View from Perkins Point with hikers in foreground

View from Perkins Point without hikers in foreground

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fall Creek Falls

George Bonneau, Sarah Bonneau, Tommy Caraway, Judy Varner, Harry Tirey, Sharon Tirey, Carla Hilling, Patricia Hilling, Mark Jordan, Teresa Jordan, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins made a trip to Fall Creek Falls State Park on a day when the park was crowded with people viewing fall colors. After a hike out to Fall Creek Falls Overlook with numerous stops at scenic overlooks along the way, we took a late lunch break and decided it was time to head home.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Chickamauga Quarry

Harry Tirey, Sharon Tirey, George Bonneau, Caroline Woerner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins made an unscheduled visit to Chickamauga Quarry at the Greenway in Hixson. The quarry, excavated by Tennessee Valley Authority in 1936 and 1937, served as a source of limestone for the construction of Chickamauga Dam located about 1 mile away.

This 3 mile hike included a trip around the quarry, a visit to the bottom of the quarry, and a walk along Chickamauga Creek as we made our way back to the parking area.

At water's edge in Chickamauga Quarry

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Skyuka Spring

Mark Jordan, Teresa Jordan, Jan Agee, Brandy Selman, Caroline Woerner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins began today's hike on the Kiddie Trail near the Nature Center entrance. We followed that trail until it intersected with Skyuka Trail and then proceeded along the Skyuka Trail until our arrival at Skyuka Spring where we stopped for lunch and a group photo. After the break we began our return hike on the Lower Truck Trail which took us back to a Reflection Riding gravel road. We followed that road back to Nature Center entrance which concluded the 8.5 mile trip.

On a log over Skyuka Spring

Hiking Lower Truck Trail

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Rock Creek

Mike White, Lora Smith, George Bonneau, Sandy Eslinger, Paige Eslinger, Caroline Woerner, Mark Jordan, Teresa Jordan, Jan Agee, Brandy Selman, Harry Tirey, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins met at Leggett Road Upper Trailhead, parked a few vehicles, and then shuttled over to Retro Hughes Trailhead where the 5+ mile hike and trail maintenance event began. Upon reaching Rock Creek, we took an extended break, had lunch, posed for a group photo, and admired the Rock Creek footbridge in final stage of construction. At break’s end we proceeded approximately 1000 feet further down the trail to Rock Creek campsite which is adjacent to a deep pool and can best be described as a backpacker’s paradise. We explored the area, took photos, and then resumed our walk toward Leggett Road. Our final stop along the way was Rock Creek Overlook which provides an excellent view of the gorge below however, our stay was short due to a swarm of ladybugs with a few yellow jackets mixed in. The hike concluded with a long steep climb to our awaiting vehicles.

Taking break at Rock Creek Bridge construction site

Thursday, October 30, 2008

2nd Meeting

2nd Chapter Meeting
Held at Rafael's in Soddy Daisy

In Attendance:
  • Jan Agee
  • TC Varner
  • Lora Smith
  • Mike White
  • Judy Varner
  • Mark Jordan
  • Don Deakins
  • Carla Hilling
  • Teresa Jordan
  • Brandy Selman
  • Sarah Bonneau
  • George Bonneau
Guest Speaker:
  • Steve Smith
  • Harry Tirey
  • Rick Nunley
  • Sharon Tirey
  • Amanda Leamon
  • Dan Basham (Park Ranger)
  • Tony Hook (Cumberland Trail General Manager)
Steve Smith, Soddy Daisy historian, gave a very interesting presentation on Little Soddy Historic Mining Area which is within boundaries of Cumberland Trail State Park and is dissected by Soddy Gorge section of the Cumberland Trail.

Carla Hilling, who recently attended the annual statewide TTA meeting, reported that Soddy Daisy TTA had been voted into official status and that we would receive a 100 dollar grant in January which will be used to open our bank account.

Discussed the placement of historic markers and identification signs along the trail in Little Soddy Historic Mining Area. Our first objective is to decide exactly what is needed and an approximate cost prior to seeking approval from park management.

Discussed advanced scheduling of activities and decided it is not necessary to load the calendar months in advance.

Discussed an 8.4 mile hike from Signal Point to Highway 27 in which members from other chapters have shown interest. This hike will go on scheduling calendar in near future with invitations sent to other chapters.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Soddy Gorge with Nashville Group

Jan Agee, Brandy Selman, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins joined up with a Nashville backpacking group on mile 21 of their 26 mile, 2 day trip, and hiked the last five mile segment from Little Soddy Historic Mining Area to Mowbray Pike Trailhead. While awaiting Nashville group’s arrival at mining area, a young man named Brandon Thurman, who was extremely well versed in mine history, arrived on scene and gave us a tour of the various structures. We saw the mule barn, mine # 7, remnants of boiler used to supply steam to steam engines, blacksmith shop, and shower facilities. We also learned some very interesting history. As the history lesson concluded, the Nashville group arrived. We took a group photo and headed up the trail. Excluding enjoyable conversation, the hike to Mowbray Pike was uneventful. Upon arrival at the Mowbray Trailhead, we agreed to meet at Rafael’s Italian Restaurant after retrieving vehicles from Sluder Lane Trailhead and Retro Hughes Trailhead. The day ended with a pizza feast. Thanks to Kelly Stewart, organizer of Nashville Meetup Group, for the invitation to participate in this event. Thanks to James Hou, backpacking group leader, for effort required to synchronize the Nashville group with the Soddy Daisy group.

Group photo at Little Soddy Historic Mining Area

Nashville group in Little Stone Door

Enjoying the view

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lula Lake

Our exploratory trip to Lula Lake was a complete success and well worth the trip. Although we only covered about 4.5 miles of trails and roads, we became sufficiently familiar with the area to simplify planning of our next trip. Stream flow over Lula Falls was good but obviously not near what it is during the wet winter season. A return trip is a must. When someone gets the desire to visit Lula Lake, this group of 4 will be ready to join them.

Slide show of Don's photos

At base of Lula Falls

Saturday, October 18, 2008

North Chickamauga

Teresa Jordan, Mark Jordan, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins joined 11 far ranging hikers from as far away as Nashville for this North Chickamauga event. Group of 15 left trailhead parking area about 10:45 Eastern Time and began making our way to ladder # 1 and Boston Branch Overlook where we took an extended break for snacks and photos. From there we proceeded to cable crossing and ladder # 2 where 11 of us relaxed in the shade while 4 hardcore hikers (David Simpson, Bill Taber, Deborah Taber, and Margaret Massa) made the strenuous descent into gorge below. Upon their return, we packed up and retraced our steps back to the parking area. Entire trip took 6 hours. Total distance was approximately 7 miles for 11 of us and maybe 8+ miles for the group that explored the gorge. Thanks to Pokey Pete Broehl of Upper Cumberland Chapter for organizing an excellent event.

Slide show of Don's photos

Taking break near ladder # 2

Deborah and Margaret in the gorge

Bill and David in the gorge

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rock Creek Loop

Lora Smith, George Bonneau, Teresa Jordan, Mark Jordan, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins took advantage of excellent weather and hiked Rock Creek Loop. Hike began at Leggett Road Lower Trailhead where the 1.2 mile long Connector Trail begins. Connector Trail connects lower trailhead parking area to Rock Creek Loop. Our inbound walk along the Connector Trail included a break at the creek. A second visit to the creek was made after arriving at junction of Connector Trail and Rock Creek Loop. We then proceeded around the loop until reaching spur trail to Leggett Point Overlook. After a short walk down the spur, which terminates at overlook, we took an extended break to enjoy a snack and the view. Following the rest period, we returned to main trail and resumed our walk on the loop which led us back to the Connector Trail. Our outbound walk along the Connector Trail also included a break at the creek, this time at a large, deep, calm, clear pool which would make a good swimming hole. Shortly after our last stop we were back at the parking area which completed an approximate 6 mile hike.

Taking break at Leggett Point Overlook

Rock Creek photo by Teresa Jordan

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bridge Construction Begins At Rock Creek

Bridge components were moved to staging area today. Tools, scaffold, and other material will follow.

Slide show of today's activities

Ed Swanner unloads bridge components

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Big Possum and Little Possum Gorges

Jan Agee, Brandy Selman, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins hiked the southern half of Cumberland Trail Possum Gorge segment which started at Heiss Mountain Road trailhead and ended at an un-official exit point near Imodium Falls. The first 1.4 mile leg of this hike from Heiss Mountain Road to Big Possum Creek is mostly downhill which makes for an easy walk. The next leg from Big Possum Creek to Perkins Point is a little over 1 mile in distance and almost entirely uphill but not extremely steep. However it was steep enough to require numerous stops along the way to allow our over-revving hearts to idle down. After a lunch break at Perkins Point, we headed into Little Possum Gorge expecting terrain similar to the trail behind us but were surprised to find the grade much steeper and the gorge seemingly much deeper. After finally reaching the bottom, we paused for a photo op in the creek bed and then began our ascent up the north side of Little Possum Gorge. The climb out, also a very steep grade, provided a strenuous workout and excitement in the form of a Timber Rattlesnake we encountered along the trail. The snake was extremely passive and allowed us to take numerous pictures, two of which are shown below.

Crossing Little Possum Creek

Timber Rattlesnake - the dangerous end

Timber Rattlesnake - the noisy end

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Savage Gulf

Teresa Jordan, Mark Jordan, Lora Smith, Jan Agee, Brandy Selman, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins made the trip to Savage Gulf. We hit the trail about 10:45 and headed toward Savage Falls, stopping at an old moonshine still site on the way. Due to lack of rain, flow over falls was little more than could be flowed thru a garden hose. After a break and photo session below the falls, we toured Savage Falls Campsite and proceeded to Rattlesnake Point on the Day Loop Trail. Took a lunch break at Rattlesnake Point, completed the Day Loop Trail, and returned to the parking area at the ranger station. Total time was 3 hours 45 minutes. Total distance was about 5.25 to 5.5 miles.

On the rocks at Savage Falls

Suspension bridge near Savage Falls

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Big Possum Creek Bridge Complete

Big Possum Creek Bridge was completed on 24 September 2008 and is now ready for hikers.

6 photo slide show of completed bridge

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Big Possum Creek Bridge Nears Completion

Mike White, Carla Hilling, Caroline Woerner, Jan Agee, Brandy Selman, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins hiked to Big Possum Creek bridge site to observe and participate in construction activities. Work was progressing rapidly at day's end, and if present rate of progress continues, bridge will be ready for use within next two days. Hikers should be dusting off equipment and planning a trip that includes Possum Gorge.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Multi Chapter Hike

Weather on this hike was far from optimum... temperature was high and the humidity was higher. Despite unfavorable conditions, this far ranging crowd from all over middle and east Tennessee was able to tour areas of destruction caused by rock mining and still complete the hike in allotted time. Thanks to Tony and Millette Jones for organizing an excellent event.

Most of the 37 participants

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Impromptu Hike To Imodium Falls

A phone call from Brandy Selman suggesting a hike to Little Possum Creek Falls in Possum Gorge turned what was destined to be another dull Sunday into a fun filled day. Brandy, Jan, Carol, and I loaded up and drove to Retro Hughes trailhead, dropping off one vehicle near hike destination on Bowater property about .3 miles (as the crow flies) from Little Possum Creek Falls.

Even during periods of low flow and low pool, Little Possum Creek Falls is a worthwhile trip. The beauty and awe of this natural attraction cannot be captured in a photograph and must be experienced in person.

Jan and Brandy have seen these falls at high flow but Carol and I have not, therefore, this group of four is planning a return visit during the rainy season. Anyone want to join us?

Taking a break at Little Possum Creek Falls

Little Possum Creek Falls at low flow and low pool