Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rock Creek Repeat

Our primary mission today was to eradicate the yellow jackets that attacked us during our August 15th maintenance hike but we also carried a hand saw to cut a few small trees we knew were on the trail. Our encounter with the yellow jackets turned out to be uneventful even though we were prepared to be attacked by a swarm. We stopped about 400 feet before reaching the nest, donned our protective gear, and headed to the nest area with wasp and hornet spray in hand. Upon arrival at the nest area we discovered there were actually two nests about 25 feet apart and skunks had damaged both. Although the nests were still active, not the first yellow jacket attempted to sting us. We saturated both nests with wasp and hornet spray, filled them with dirt, and covered them with big rocks. It will be near impossible for them to rebuild the nests so hopefully the yellow jackets that were not in the nest will build somewhere else away from the trail.

After killing the yellow jackets, we stopped at Leggett Branch for a cool down break followed by a lunch break at Rock Creek Campsite. After lunch we hiked on to Rock Creek Bridge where we met Caroline Woerner, the girl that got too many yellow jacket stings to count on our August 15th hike. She wanted to know if we were successful in killing the yellow jackets but didn't want to get anywhere near the nest. She completed the hike out to Retro Hughes Road with us.

Bob's photos

Group photo at Leggett Branch

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Possum Gorge

The goal for today's maintenance hike was to remove downed trees from the trail between Heiss Mountain Road and Big Possum Creek Bridge which surprisingly was accomplished without injury or yellow jacket stings. After that work was complete we took an extended break at Big Possum Creek and while there decided to finish removing a log jam on the upstream side of the bridge. Today's work on the log jam along with two previous work sessions completed the removal of a major creek obstruction and eye sore. We now just have to wait on Mother Nature to wash away the debris after our assault with the chain saw.

Bob's photos

Group photo in Possum Creek after removing log jam

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hiwassee Island

Denise Shepard, Robin Kelly, Jane Ellett, Ed Ellett, Judy Varner, TC Varner, and Don Deakins met at Blythe Ferry boat ramp where we launched out little boats. We then paddled over to Hiwassee Island and explored the interior of the island before crossing Hiwassee River and entering the Big Slough goose management area. Once there we stopped and went ashore for lunch before paddling to the farthest point in Big Slough which put us in front of the wildlife viewing area. There we turned around and causally made our way back to Blythe Ferry ramp.

Don's photos

Lunch break in Big Slough

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rock Creek Yellow Jackets

Today's maintenance hike turned into a cluster [insert f-bomb here] thanks to some very angry yellow jackets. Our intentions were to hike from Leggett Road to Retro Hughes Road and remove reported blow-downs from the trail. We did get the trail cleared between Leggett Road and Leggett Branch but as we approached Leggett Branch, we encountered a yellow jacket nest on the trail which had recently been partially dug up by a skunk. Angry yellow jackets attacked us all. Those that were already past the nest continued down the trail. Those that hadn't yet reached the nest turned and ran back the way they came and Molly the dog ran off into the woods. Everyone received multiple stings with Ava receiving nine but Caroline and Molly the dog caught the brunt of the attack as the entire swarm zeroed in on them. Caroline had too many stings to count which surely would have been fatal to someone allergic to stings as we were about 2 miles from the trailhead. These yellow jackets were persistent and chased each group a long distance from the nest before the stinging subsided so our group was split up and the dog was not with either group and we had no cell phone communication. To make a long story short, we never did get the group back together as some reached the trailhead long before others but we were at least able to finally establish cell phone communications and learn that no one suffered an anaphylactic reaction.

No group photo today.

Carol's photos

Bob's photos

Sunday, August 12, 2012

More Maintenance

Caroline Woerner, Bob DeHart, Tammy Smith, Mickey Hogsed, Judy Varner, TC Varner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins spent the morning removing trail obstructions from Cumberland Trail in Soddy Gorge between Hotwater Road and Deep Creek. We made 13 stops for trees we had documented from a previous trail inspection and 2 more stops for big trees overhanging the trail which we decided to get while we were there with a chainsaw. Working conditions were optimum thanks to unusually cool weather and low humidity for August. Pleasant weather and a fun group made for an excellent day on the trail.

Carol's photos

Bob's photos

Group photo along Soddy Gorge Trail

Friday, August 10, 2012

Soddy Maintenance

Today's maintenance hike consisted of a short walk to three medium size trees on the trail below the point where Cumberland Trail crosses Hotwater Road. We encountered heavy showers as we drove to Hotwater Road and, after arriving, had to wait in vehicles for the rain to subside. We hiked to the work location in a light rain but fortunately it stopped shortly after work began. Removal of these trees completes work on all trail below Hotwater Road and our upcoming maintenance hike this Sunday can be confined to trail above Hotwater Road.

Bob's photos

Group photo at work site

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Soddy Gorge Maintenance

Ava Navin, TC Varner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins turned out for today's inspection of an approximate 4 mile section of Soddy Gorge Trail. We began at Sluder Lane, hiked down the trail of tires and across Hotwater Road on to Posey Point and beyond to the intersection of the SCC Trail above Deep Creek and followed the SCC Trail to our previously staged vehicle at the rock climber's parking lot. A tremendous amount of debris was removed from the trail, that which could be removed by hand and hand saw but we left a tremendous amount which will require a chainsaw. 14 locations were documented where a chainsaw is needed and some of these locations have multiple trees. See our maintenance tracking document for photos and GPS coordinates.

Group photo along Soddy Gorge Trail

We found this turtle eating a mushroom

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Piney River Maintenance

Jane Ellett, Sam Henderson, Judy Varner, TC Varner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins accompanied Brandy Selman and Miller Pace of the state trail maintenance crew for some trail clearing at Piney River near Spring City. This crew of eight along with three chainsaws turned an all day job into a morning's work with time to spare. After work we cooled off at and in the river before heading to the barn.

Carol's photos

Group photo along Piney River