Monday, December 31, 2012

Exploring Rock Creek

TC and I hiked into the Rock Creek segment to check out a small cave he discovered on one of his recent exploratory hikes. This cave is located in the bluffs above the trail about half way between Rocky Branch and Leggett Branch. On our return trip back to Leggett Road upper trailhead, we decided to leave the trail and hike along the base of the bluff below the trail. That allowed us to hike under Rocky Branch Falls and Flat Branch Falls which can't be seen from the trail. I didn't have a camera with me today but the video below is of the same off-trail section.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Salvage Mission

Today's goal was to salvage the cable used as handrails on the recently dismantled Back Country Bridge. We hiked in from rock climber's parking lot and, after crossing Big Soddy Creek, left the trail and climbed up to the base of the bluff above the trail and followed the bluff line for most of the distance to the bridge site. Upon arrival at the old bridge site we discovered that the trail across the creek that replaced the bridge was performing well with substantial flow in this small creek. We then proceeded to remove the cable from the old handrail support posts. After the work was done, we had just enough energy to make the long hike back to our awaiting vehicles.

Don's photos

Group photo along base of bluff

Friday, December 14, 2012

Soddy Gorge Off-Trail

Today we added a little variety to the hike from Sluder Lane to Deep Creek area by taking a shortcut over the ridge before reaching Posey Point and then hiking off-trail a portion of the distance between Posey Point and Deep Creek. We discovered numerous old mines, one of which had an opening large enough for a small person to crawl through and old support timbers were visible just inside the entrance. Further down the trail we visited an unofficial overlook that we have noticed numerous times before but never left the trail to investigate. Today we had lunch there. Next time we plan to bring rope and explore down below this overlook.

Group photo off-trail somewhere between Deep Creek and Posey Point

An unofficial overlook at N35 17.829 W85 11.145

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Soddy Gorge South

A few days ago we were hiking in t-shirts but today's weather was more December like and required a few more layers of clothing. We hiked the 4.9 mile southern segment of Soddy Gorge trail between Mowbray Pike and Sluder Lane with a little off-trail exploration of rock outcroppings thrown in to add some variety to this hike we have done many times. Unfortunately we also discovered a few hemlock trees which were infested with the woolly adelgid, a small bug that will eventually kill most if not all hemlocks.

Group photo on rock outcropping along trail

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Possum Gorge

Debbie Lambert of Chattanooga Hiking Club, Judy Varner, TC Varner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins took advantage of this superb December weather and hiked the entire Possum Gorge segment of Cumberland Trail. Normally when hiking this trail we stop for lunch below Little Possum Creek Falls (aka Imodium Falls) but today we tried something different and took our break at top of falls as shown below. It is more easily accessible and the view is great so we may stake a claim on this spot.

Group photo along Possum Gorge Trail

Lunch break atop Little Possum Creek Falls

Lunch break atop Little Possum Creek Falls

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Piney River

Today's hike encompassed the entire Piney River trail between Newby Branch Trailhead and Piney River Trailhead, an 8.47 mile segment. Weather was ideal for hiking and apparently suitable for snakes too as we encountered a garter snake on the trail. First time I've ever seen a snake out during winter months.

This trail is in dire need of maintenance. Numerous trees are down on the trail with the worst section being the first half mile from Newby Branch but there are also trees down near Duskin Creek footbridge, near White Pine Cascades, at McDonald Branch, between the two junctions of the Flat Rock Loop Trail and numerous other places which will require the entire trail to be hiked with a chain saw.

Group photo at White Pine Cascades

Monday, December 3, 2012

Back Country Bridge

Cumberland Trail Conference completed the dismantling of Back Country Bridge and rerouting the trail away from the bridge site. Although we had seen the work in progress, we hadn't seen the completed project so we hiked in to the bridge site to check it out. Those guys did an excellent job of step building and trail construction in an extremely rugged area along this unnamed creek. With this old bridge gone, we no longer have to worry about its integrity when we reach this point on the trail.

Group photo on another re-routed trail segment

Back Country Bridge has been dismantled

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Rock Creek

Carol and I took advantage of today's t-shirt weather and hiked Rock Creek Loop but instead of hiking the entire trail, we left the trail and hiked along a portion of Rock Creek that parallels the lower loop. Our plans were to hike along the creek down to where the access trail from lower trailhead intersects with the loop trail but vertical rock walls along the creek stopped our forward progress and forced us to make a long steep climb back to the trail. We got our day's worth of exercise on that climb!

Taking a break on Rock Creek

Hiking along Rock Creek

Hiking along loop trail