Sunday, July 31, 2011

Kayak Demo

Today’s kayak demonstration at Soddy Lake turned out to be more successful than expected. Tony Seagrove, Mickey Hogsed, Tammy Smith, and Ed Swanner stopped by to try these little recreational kayaks provided by Mark Jordan and Don Deakins. Fortunately Mark brought two boats, a sit-on-top and a sit-inside so those interested could try each type. Caroline Woerner came directly from Rock Creek Down Under with her brand new Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120. While our friends from Sequoyah Nuclear Plant were trying kayaks, Caroline launched her new blue boat for its maiden voyage. After testing was complete, Mark, Don, Caroline, and Ed paddled around Soddy Lake which ended our short 2 hour event.

Slide show of Don's photos

Testing kayaks at Soddy Lake

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Paddling with Phyllis

Phyllis Williams, Mike Seeber, Mark Jordan, Teresa Jordan, Jane Ellett, Keith Weller, and Don Deakins had an excellent day of kayaking on Sale Creek. Conditions couldn’t have been much better. We had warm water, no wind, and overcast skies which kept temperature in the comfortable range. Although we heard the rumble of thunder for most of the day, we did not get caught in a storm and only encountered a couple of very light sprinkles.

We began the day with a destination of Daugherty Ferry Road Bridge but didn’t even slow down as we passed the bridge and soon arrived at the US-27 bridge where a few stopped but others continued upstream with intentions of going as far as we could go. As we continued upstream, the water began to cool. At about 1.2 miles past the US-27 bridge we encountered a log jam which extended as far as we could see. That stopped any further advancement. The water was very cold here and combined with warm moist air, created foggy conditions.

After a short lunch break we began our return downstream. Along the way we met Joanne Denise and Jeff Guenther in their kayaks. After a short reunion, we continued on our way and soon arrived back at Iles Road boat ramp. That was the end of the trip for all but Keith Weller who, instead of driving to the ramp, had paddled from his home on the lake near Sale Creek Marina all the way to the ramp which I have measured on Google Earth as a 2.9 mile one way trip. Most of us paddled 7.4 miles today but Keith added an additional 5.8 to his day for a whopping 13.2 miles. Ouch!!

Thanks to Phyllis for hosting this event.

Slide show of Don's photos

Paddling up Sale Creek

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jeep Trails

Bob DeHart and I spent today 4-wheeling along Prentice Cooper jeep trails and collecting GPS data on trails we did not explore last week. Although we have now explored and mapped most jeep trails on the west side of Suck Creek Road, one more trip will be required to complete the project.

Lunch break somewhere in Prentice Cooper

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rock Creek Loop

Today's Rock Creek Loop hike had Teresa Jordan, Mark Jordan, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins wondering why we were out in the torturous heat and humidity. Even a casual pace from the upper trail head down to Rock Creek had us soaking wet with sweat. However, conditions were very comfortable at Rock Creek where we took a very long break. It was so comfortable we didn't want to leave but finally someone begrudgingly suggested we return to the trail and make the long climb back to the upper trail head.

We documented 6 downed trees on the trail around the loop which will be recorded in our To-Do list. These trees will remain on the To-Do list until cooler weather prevails when we will return with a chain saw and remove the trail obstructions.

Slide show of Don's photos

Cooling down at Rock Creek

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Audubon Mountain

Caroline Woerner, Sue LaGraff, Judy Varner, TC Varner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins teamed up to install a sign on the Audubon Mountain Trail. Our work session got off to a bad start when we discovered that the road to the work location was grown up and had numerous downed trees across it, blocking our vehicular progress. We parked the cars, put the tools and sign post on our shoulders, and hiked to the intersection of the jeep trail and foot path where the sign was to be installed. After about 20 minutes, work was complete and we then began a hike up Audubon Mountain. It was hot and humid, too hot and humid to be hiking. After completing the 4+ mile round trip, we talked about not hiking again until conditions are more suitable. I hope we don't forget this conversation.

The mystery flower in photos has been identified. It is a Butterfly Pea.

Slide show of Don's photos

Group photo with newly installed sign

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mapping Jeep Trails

Bob DeHart and I spent the morning mapping jeep trails in Prentice Cooper with a primary goal of determining how close to Cumberland Trail some of the jeep trails are and a secondary goal of just exploring. We did find some routes that may come in handy when performing trail maintenance.

Lunch break on Dry Branch Road

Bob records GPS data at end of road

Monday, July 18, 2011

Another new boat

TC Varner sold his sit-inside kayak and today brought home a new sit-on-top Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120. I was lucky to have the opportunity to join TC and Judy as they took the new boat out for its maiden voyage.

Slide show of Don's photos

We ended the day rafted up in a bull session

Ziegler Island

Carol and I took our flat bottom boat up to Sale Creek Campground where we put the boat in and then motored up to Hiwassee Island. We toured the island following the same route as our last kayak trip and then headed over to Ziegler Island for some rest and relaxation. After eating lunch and wading around the island, we settled into lawn chairs which were in about 6 inches of water and in the shade of a cypress tree. It was very peaceful. If we remained still and quite, gar would swim up in the shallows and chase small minnows. This place is becoming addictive. I'm already looking forward to the next visit.

Relaxing in shade of Cyprus tree on Ziegler Island

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Possum Gorge Maintenance

An ongoing heat wave has most people avoiding the outdoors but Judy Varner, TC Varner, and Don Deakins headed into Possum Gorge with chain saw in hand to remove a downed tree from Cumberland Trail between Big Possum Creek and Perkins Point. What we first thought would require a minimum of cutting ultimately required the whole tree to be cut and moved. The tree was laying above and almost parallel to the trail with only the tree top in the trail. As we removed the top, the whole tree rolled onto the trail which required much more work in punishing heat but we finally got the trail cleared.

Working and hiking in today’s extreme heat and humidity required a slower pace on the trail and stops in Big Possum Creek and Little Possum Creek for a bird bath to cool down. We will probably wait on better working conditions before scheduling another maintenance hike.

Slide show of Don's photos

Lunch break in Little Possum Creek

Monday, July 11, 2011

Around Hiwassee Island

Mark Jordan, Teresa Jordan, TC Varner, Judy Varner, and Don Deakins paddled around Hiwassee Island but the best part of this 5.6 mile trek may have been a side trip to Ziegler Island which required crossing to the opposite side of Tennessee River. This island, a safe haven for many birds, also provides an excellent place to wade and swim. Warm shallow water combined with a sandy bottom created an environment that was hard to leave behind. We've gotta visit this place again soon.

Slide show of Don's photos

Ziegler Island

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Rock Creek Maintenance

Caroline Woerner, Judy Varner, TC Varner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins hiked Rock Creek Trail from Leggett Road to Retro Hughes Road with a chainsaw, handsaws, and pruning shears. All trees that had been reported on the trail between Upper Leggett Road trail head and Rock Creek Bridge were removed. In addition, we also removed numerous trees on the trail between Rock Creek Bridge and Retro Hughes Road. We can now report the trail between Upper Leggett Road and Retro Hughes Road is clear.

Slide show of Don's photos

One of many big trees removed from trail

Friday, July 1, 2011

Possum Creek

Teresa Jordan, Mark Jordan, and Don Deakins paddled from the boat ramp at Possum Creek Bridge as far back Possum Creek as possible without pulling boats out of the water. Where Possum Creek parallels McCallie Ferry Road, we encountered a concrete driveway across the creek which ended our upstream exploration. Since we were already getting tired, we elected not to drag the kayaks across the obstruction and continue upstream. Instead we took a lunch break and then began the long trip back to the boat ramp. The round trip took almost 4 hours and GPS indicated we had paddled 8.4 miles.

Slide show of Don's photos

Calm day at Possum Creek