Saturday, April 30, 2011

Deep Creek Maintenance

Caroline Woerner, Bob DeHart, Jane Ellett, Judy Varner, TC Varner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins teamed up for a few hours of trail maintenance on the Soddy Gorge segment of Cumberland Trail. Our goal today was to hike through the rock mining entrance off Old Hotwater Road and remove a large tree across the trail between Deep Creek and Hotwater Road. We anticipated a strenuous hike down the steep rock mining road to Deep Creek and the subsequent climb back up the Cumberland Trail to the segment where our work was to take place. Fortunately, TC and Judy knew an alternate route that circumvented the difficult portion and turned what could have been a strenuous hike into an easy and much more enjoyable hike.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day

Although Carol and I didn't do anything to save the planet on this "Earth Day", we did spend time on Cumberland Trail gathering GPS data and performing trail maintenance. Yesterday I received two emails, one from Jim Schroeder and one from Jason Grizzard. Jim has revised the route of the proposed trail addition in the Little Soddy Historic Mining Area and requested the map be revised to reflect this change. Jason had just hiked the section of Soddy Gorge from Hotwater Road to Deep Creek and reported 3 trees across the trail that were too big to cut with the ax he carried. With a GPS in one hand and a chain saw in the other, we headed to Hotwater Road. First we hiked down into Little Soddy Historic Mining Area and recorded GPS data for the proposed route of the new trail addition which skirts along the old mule barn site and the old Jeffery's home site. Then we hiked out toward Posey Point and cut two of the three trees across the trail. The third downed tree which is near Deep Creek was saved for another day when we will hike in through the old rock mining road.

Today's photos

Revised Map of Little Soddy Historic Mining Area

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ransom Hollow Maintenance

Caroline Woerner, Bob DeHart, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins hiked the Ransom Hollow section of Cumberland Trail at Prentice Cooper State Forest with loppers and chainsaw in hand. Our plans were to remove two big trees across the trail but recent storms have downed numerous trees, and as luck would have it, many of them are on the trail. We had already cut four big ones before we arrived at the first tree on our agenda. We lost count of trees removed from the trail but our four hour event turned into a eight hour event so we know it was a substantial number. If what we saw today is indicative of the entire trail, there is much more chainsaw work to be done.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Piney River with CHC

Anna Dennett, Maria Lubkowitz, Jane Ellett, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins joined the Chattanooga Hiking Club for a trip to Spring City where we hiked the Piney River segment of Cumberland Trail. Of 24 hikers, 19 began at Duskin Creek which resulted in a 7.35 mile hike while the hard core group began at Newby Branch and hiked 8.46 miles. Ideal weather, ample flow in creeks, wildflowers in bloom, and snakes on the prowl made for an interesting and entertaining hike.

Slide show of Don's photos

Group photo at Rockhouse Branch Campsite

Thursday, April 7, 2011

North Chick Overnight

After Monday’s torrential rains, we were a little reluctant to proceed with this backpack trip through North Chickamauga Gorge knowing we had to cross Cooper Creek which does not have a bridge but, having already postponed this trip the previous week due to weather, we decided to continue and revise our plans if crossing Cooper Creek looked unsafe. After hiking 3.1 miles from Cain Creek area, we arrived at Cooper Creek and found it much higher than normal and fast flowing but we were able to find a route across where the water level never exceeded knee high. Creek rocks were slick and current was swift so we had to proceed very cautiously but everyone made it safely across.

After arriving at Stevenson Branch Campsite, we set up camp, collected fire wood, fished, ate, and ended the night with a few hours around the campfire.

Our hike out on Thursday morning provided some excitement that won’t soon be forgotten. Climbing two ladders that were not designed nor positioned for hikers with big heavy backpacks slowed our progress but the show stopper came when we arrived at the cable crossing. The cable crossing is a creek crossing with a very slack cable handrail. The solid rock creek bottom is extremely slick and today was so slick the current would push your feet out from under you. About 20 feet downstream of the crossing is a waterfall which would mean instant death for anyone who slipped and was pushed downstream by the current. About 15 feet upstream from the cable crossing is another waterfall about 8 feet tall. No one was willing to chance a crossing under these conditions so we had two options, turn around and go back to where we started the day before or climb a short rock wall at the edge of the waterfall above the cable crossing and go upstream looking for a suitable location to cross the creek. We chose the latter and although we did get wet climbing up along the waterfall, we made the climb successfully and found a safe place to cross. Thankfully, the remaining three miles to the North Chickamauga trailhead were event free.

Slide show of Don's photos

Enjoying the campfire

Friday, April 1, 2011

Hike with Memphis TTA

Judy Varner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins joined 10 hikers from Memphis TTA for a 4.9 mile hike of Soddy Gorge between Mowbray Pike and Hotwater Road. Although there was a slight chance of rain in the forecast, no rain materialized and conditions couldn't have been better for hiking.

These Memphis hikers are a hard core group. After hiking Soddy Gorge today, they plan to hike Rock Creek tomorrow and Chickamauga Battlefield on Sunday before heading back to Memphis. Not only are they a hard core group but also a fun group. I hope we get the opportunity to join them again.

Slide show of Don's photos

Group photo at Mowbray Pike trail head