Sunday, July 29, 2012

Rock Creek Maintenance

Today's maintenance hike was very productive. We removed numerous downed trees from the trail along with many others that were hanging over the trail and would have eventually resulted in trail obstructions. We also eradicated a nest of European hornets on the trail. Wikipedia says
European hornets are defensive of their hive and rather aggressive around food sources such as lilac bushes. Care should be taken when encountered in these circumstances as they may sting without warning. The pain from the sting may persist for several days with attendant swelling.
We found this to be true last Wednesday so today, as we approached the nest with wasp and hornet spray in hand, precautions were taken in the form of extra clothing and bug nets to prevent or at least reduce the chance of being stung. Fortunately we were able to kill them without getting stung. Ah, sweet revenge.

We can now say that Rock Creek Loop, the spur trail to Leggett Point Overlook, and the access trail to Lower Leggett Road Trailhead are clear of all trail obstructions. Unfortunately we can't say the same for hornets. We encountered another European hornet nest on the upper half of Rock Creek Loop but were out of bug spray. That nest will remain active until we return with some of that potent wasp and hornet spray.

Bob's photos

Carol's photos

Group photo on Rock Creek

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rock Creek Inspection

Our intention today was to inspect a portion of Rock Creek Trail for downed trees that require chainsawing for removal and to get a little exercise before it got too hot. As luck would have it, we found three trees on the lower half of Rock Creek Loop that will require a chainsaw for removal and a few other smaller trees and limbs that we removed with hand saws. We also found a nest of some kind of large yellow jacket type wasps along the trail that will need to be eradicated soon. We learned the hard way that they sting without provocation. Our next hike down this trail will be with a chainsaw, wasp and hornet spray, and possibly a bee keeper's suit.

Carol's photos

Bob's photos

Group photo on Rock Creek

Sunday, July 22, 2012

And More Maintenance

Today, with a bigger saw and plenty of fuel, we returned to the site of the job we didn't complete last Wednesday. Even though we were better prepared for a tree of this magnitude, at 36.5 inches in diameter even the bigger saw with 20 inch bar was marginal. If we tackle many more trees of this size, we may have to invest in a complete array of lumberjack equipment.

Bob's photos

Carol's photos

Don's photos

Group photo after cutting big tree

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

More Maintenance

Although the day began with rain, thunder, and lightning all around, Caroline Woerner, Bob DeHart, Mickey DeHart, Carol Deakins, Don Deakins, TC Varner, Jane Ellett and grandson Sam Henderson decided to forge ahead. Fortunately the lightning subsided but it began to rain as we hiked down to and just beyond Little Possum Creek Bridge. Rain continued until the work was complete.

Not expecting a tree as big as we encountered, we carried a chainsaw with a full tank but no extra fuel which proved to be a bad decision. Also the chainsaw had a 16 inch bar which was not nearly long enough to tackle a tree of this size but regardless, we began our attempt at cutting this big tree. After much sawing we were finally able to sever the tree just as we ran out of fuel. The trail is still obstructed but the difficult sawing is done. The next crew to hike in with a chainsaw can just saw off the end sticking over the trail.

Even though we were not able to complete the job and everyone got wet, it was still a very enjoyable hike.

Bob's photos

Group photo on rocks at Little Possum Creek Bridge


This photo, taken in the rain with a fogged lens, is the tree we tackled

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Trail Maintenance

After receiving an excellent trail report from Jason Grizzard describing numerous downed trees on a section of Soddy Gorge Trail, Caroline Woerner, Mickey Hogsed, Tammy Smith, Judy Varner, TC Varner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins loaded up our trusty Stihl chainsaw along with a few hand tools and began our working hike on the 4.9 mile section of trail between Mowbray Pike and Sluder Lane. Although trees in the report represented a sizable job, this group of seven cut it down to size and made it an easy day's work.

Don's photos

Carol's photos

Jason Grizzard's trail report

Group photo along Soddy Gorge Trail

Monday, July 9, 2012

Ziegler Island

Caroline Woerner, Judy Varner, TC Varner, and Don Deakins drove up to the site of the old Blythe Ferry and launched kayaks for a paddle around Hiwassee Island on our way to Ziegler Island. All the holiday boaters were apparently back at work as we had the river to ourselves except for a few fishermen. We didn't get to hang around on Ziegler Island as long as expected. An increasing wind along with ominous clouds rolling in and thunder in the distance provided incentive to shorten our day on the water and paddle the last couple of miles without stopping to enjoy nature.

Don's photos

Group photo on Ziegler Island

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Possum Creek

Caroline Woerner, Mickey Hogsed, Ava Navin, Judy Varner, TC Varner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins hiked down to Big Possum Creek Bridge where we entered the creek and rock hopped upstream about 1/4 mile to the old railroad bridge site. There we took a snack break and Judy went for a swim. After the break we trail hiked back to Big Possum Creek Bridge where we stopped and expended much energy dismantling a log jam at the bridge. After the work session we raced backed to our air conditioned vehicles.

Don's photos

Group photo in Big Possum Creek