Saturday, November 20, 2010

Soddy Gorge

Gina Wilson, Jan Agee, Brandy Selman, Maria Lubkowitz, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins enjoyed ideal weather as we hiked the 4.9 mile section of Soddy Gorge between Mowbray Pike and the Sluder Lane trailhead at Hotwater Road. Looks like this section of trail will be seeing much more use. The recently completed parking lot at Mowbray trailhead has immediately increased its popularity. Upon arrival at the Mowbray trailhead, we encountered an old friend, Bill Goins, preparing a scout troop for a Cumberland Trail hike. After completing our hike, we returned to Mowbray Pike trailhead to retrieve our shuttle vehicle and found the parking lot full of automobiles. Looks like it may be time to start planning a larger parking area.

Slide show of Don's photos

Group photo at overlook near Little Stone Door

Thursday, November 18, 2010

North Chick After Fire

Although North Chickamauga segment of Cumberland Trail is closed beyond Hogskin Loop due to damage suffered in a recent forest fire, Carol and I hiked back to ladder # 1 to obtain pictures of the damaged wooden ladder system that provides access up the bluff to Boston Branch Overlook and the trail beyond. We hadn’t hiked far when the smell of burning coal began to foul the air. At about the 1.2 mile mark we discovered the source of the smell. On slopes below the trail just past the old open mine, coal was still smoldering after 3 to 4 weeks and producing a substantial amount of smoke, even after the heavy rains two days ago.

Continuing down the trail we began to encounter numerous fallen trees on the trail, some a result of fire and others apparently from high winds. A maintenance hike with chain saw will be required to get this trail in shape, especially if materials to repair the ladder system are carried in on this trail.

Upon arriving at ladder # 1, we found the first flight of stairs and the first single plank bridge untouched by fire. However the top step of the stair is broken and the entire stair is showing its age as is the single plank bridge. The second flight of stairs was completely consumed by fire and a large portion of the second bridge was burned. Repairs will absolutely be required before foot traffic can resume use of this trail.

Slide show of Don's photos

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Symposium Hike

With the 20th American Trails National Symposium being held in Chattanooga this year, Andy Wright, Carol Deakins, Don Deakins and Judy Varner along with her grandson, Josh, had the pleasure of leading a hike for symposium participants on the Cumberland Trail, one of many events sponsored by American Trails. Symposium organizers requested a hike between 4 to 6 miles that contained a couple of recently constructed bridges. Therefore a section of Possum Gorge Trail between Heiss Mountain Road Trailhead and the Little Possum Creek Bridge construction entrance was selected which resulted in a 4.2 mile hike with two creek crossing on relatively new bridges.

Although nine symposium participants had signed up for this hike, a light rain discouraged four of them. Hikers that were not discouraged are:
  • Maureen DeCindis - Transportation Planner plus Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Gerry Bowen – Natural Resources Planner for Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District in Omaha, Nebraska
  • Michael Tully – Director of Operations and Public Safety for Lake County Forest Preserves in Lindenhurst, Illinois
  • Vince Urbanski – Chief of Park Planning in Concord, Ohio
  • Steven Studenmund – Strategic Planning and Land Acquisition Manager in Westerville, Ohio
Fortunately for those that braved the weather, precipitation subsided a short distance down the trail and had completely stopped by the time we crossed Big Possum Creek. We completed the remainder of the hike without needing rain gear.

Slide show of Don's photos

Group photo at Heiss Mtn Rd Trailhead

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Possum Gorge with CHC

Jan Agee, Keith Weller, Caroline Woerner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins joined Chattanooga Hiking Club for a hike in Possum Gorge which began at Heiss Mountain Road Trailhead and ended at the construction entrance for Little Possum Creek Bridge. It was a short 4.2 miles but there wasn't much level ground so our legs, hearts, and lungs got plenty of exercise. Today's hike included only the southern segment of Possum Gorge Trail. The northern segment, which includes Imodium Falls, will hopefully be scheduled after winter rains begin which will ensure good flow over the falls.

Slide show of Don's photos

Group photo at Heiss Mtn Trailhead

Monday, November 8, 2010

Trail Maintenance

Keith Weller, Jan Agee, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins joined Brandy Selman and Ronald Skiles of the state trail maintenance crew for a few hours of trail maintenance in Soddy Gorge along Hotwater Road. We carried rakes, brooms, and a chain saw. Rakes and brooms were used to remove leaves from rock steps and bridges while the chain saw was used to remove three trees down across the trail. Ideal weather and a fun group made this work seem like play.

We stopped by the Mowbray Pike trailhead on the way home and found it complete and ready to be used.

Group photo at Sluder Lane trailhead
Mowbray Pike trailhead parking lot is complete and ready for use

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Trail of Tires

Katy Walker, Caroline Woerner, Brandy Selman, Jan Agee, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins did an inspection of the segment of Cumberland Trail that parallels Hotwater Road, locally known as the "Trail of Tires" due to all the debris that litters the area. We found two trees across the trail that need to be removed and collected trash which we carried out. A return trip with chain saw is scheduled for tomorrow to remove trees across the trail after which this section of trail can be classified as being in excellent condition.

Slide show of Don's photos

Group photo along "Trail of Tires"