Friday, December 27, 2013

GPS Exercise

Larry Hill and Don Deakins headed off to Prentice Cooper State Forest for some practice navigating through open woods using GPS for guidance. We began and ended our hike at Davis Pond. After entering coordinates into Larry's GPS receiver for three stops along our planned route, we pointed ourselves in the direction of Natural Bridge and began walking through open woods while relying on GPS to keep us on course. At Natural Bridge, we stopped for a snack and explored underneath the bridge before resuming the hike. The next leg consisted of about one mile on Cumberland Trail to a footbridge where we again left the trail and let GPS guide us back to Davis Pond. Hiking through open woods is fun. We will be doing this again soon.

Group photo at Davis Pond

Larry leads the way to Natural Bridge

Underneath Natural Bridge

Friday, December 20, 2013

Black Mtn Video

This Cumberland Trail video encompasses Black Mountain Loop and the western side of Black Mountain Trail which are part of the Grassy Cove segment. Thanks to hikers Bob DeHart, Shauna Wilson, Teresa Jordan, and Mark Jordan.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Big Soddy Creek

Last week we let Deep Creek turn us back but this week Larry Hill, Judy Varner, TC Varner, and Don Deakins were determined to get to Big Soddy Creek and check out the bridge construction site. Conditions at Deep Creek were no better today than a week ago. The temporary bridge which was destroyed by falling trees is permanently out of commission and the permanent bridge still under construction remains untouched. We did however find a way across which requires excellent balance and nerves of steel. Sure will be much more convenient and much safer when the Deep Creek Bridge is complete.

The photos include one picture of an abandoned dog with four pups that need a home. If you know someone that would like a new pet, let me know and we will try to make these homeless dogs a little more comfortable with regular food and water.

Don's photos

Group photo on Big Soddy Creek

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Deep Creek

Our plans were to cross Deep Creek and hike over to Big Soddy Bridge construction site but Deep Creek flow was a little too swift and deep to wade across and the broken down temporary bridge had frost on it making it too slippery to even think about walking across. We did hike upstream looking for a suitable place to cross but that proved fruitless. Some of the state crew along with about 6 volunteers were working on clearing up the downed trees at the Deep Creek bridge site and rerouting the trail to the new Deep Creek Bridge which is planned to be complete by January 1st. Maybe this will be the last time we are turned back by Deep Creek.

Don's photos

Group photo above Deep Creek

Friday, November 22, 2013

Deep Creek Bridge Destroyed

A recent storm brought down a few trees at Deep Creek and destroyed the temporary bridge. Here's a photo sent to me by TC Varner.

Deep Creek Bridge after storm (click to enlarge)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Brady Mtn with CHC

Today's Brady Mountain hike began and ended with a lengthy 15 mile shuttle but still left plenty of time to enjoy the approximate 7.8 miles of mostly ATV trail between Brady Mountain Trailhead and Jewett Road Trailhead. A thick layer of leaves made it difficult to stay on the trail in a few places but we were able to locate the trail quickly with help of GPS. Ideal hiking weather and a great group of CHC hikers made this another excellent day on the trail.

Don's photos

Group photo at Jewett Rd Trailhead

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bridge Construction

Concrete completed the last leg of its journey today when it was transported across Big Soddy Creek. It will be used in construction of the anchorage block, the part of a suspension bridge to which the cables are attached. Final preparations are underway to ready the anchorage block to receive concrete within the next day or two.

Don's photos

Attaching load to zip line

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bridge Construction

Today we completed the movement of concrete mix down to the bridge site. Forty-eight 80 pound bags (3840 pounds) were moved with relative ease thanks to a sufficient number of hard working volunteers. The concrete still needs to be moved across the creek which will take place tomorrow.

Don's photos

Bag of concrete arrives on zip line

Saturday, November 9, 2013

CTC Volunteer Banquet

This year's Cumberland Trail Conference Volunteer Appreciation Banquet was held at The Depot in Crossville. The banquet included a 3.62 mile Black Mountain hike that preceded the catered barbecue dinner and award ceremony. A casual pace was maintained during our trek down Black Mountain which made for a very pleasant hike. The pleasant hike ended when we reached Highway 68 and had to road walk the last few hundred feet in order to comply with TDOT's "No Trespassing" signs which have been placed on the trail where it skirts along the highway right of way. Fortunately no one was hit by a passing automobile.

Don's photos

Bob's photos

Group photo atop Black Mountain

Monday, November 4, 2013

Possum Gorge Inspection

With the Up Chuck trail race scheduled for next Saturday, TC Varner and I decided to inspect the southern portion of Possum Gorge trail. We hiked from the Little Possum Creek Bridge construction entrance on Retro Hughes Road to Heiss Mountain Road trailhead and found plenty of trail obstructions. We also stumbled upon one very active yellow jacket nest in middle of the trail. We removed a few downed trees that could be moved by manpower alone but most will require serious chainsaw work and some trail repair will also be needed.

Photos of blow-downs

If 2 can be called a group, this is our group photo in Big Possum Creek

Map showing relative location of blow-downs and yellow jacket nest

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Rock Creek Maintenance

Bob DeHart, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins accompanied Phillip, Ryan, and Brandy of the state trail maintenance crew on a Rock Creek maintenance hike from Upper Leggett Road trailhead to Retro Hughes Road trailhead. There were many small trees on the trail and a few large ones but this section of trail is now ready for the upcoming trail race. The trail near Rocky Branch which had been damaged by uprooted trees was repaired and is now functional but more work needs to be done. We couldn't finish because of yellow jackets and hornets. We will try to return it to Cumberland Trail specifications after weather turns cold and stinging insects are inactive.

Don's photos

Bob's photos

Lunch break at Rock Creek Campsite

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cooper Creek

Judy Varner, TC Varner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins hiked from the new Barker Camp parking lot and trailhead to Stevenson Branch Campsite and back. We expected to find the new parking area farther into Cumberland Trail property but were surprised to find it just inside the original gate.

We hadn't walked this trail segment in a while and were anxious to return. It didn't take long to be reminded why we like this section; it is one of the most beautiful sections of Cumberland Trail.

Don's photos

Group photo at Panther Branch Overlook

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bridge Construction

Cumberland Trail Conference bridge building crew is taking the weekend off while awaiting engineering inspection and approval of the bridge towers. Here are two pictures of the completed towers taken yesterday by TC Varner.

South side tower

North side tower

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bridge Construction

The first half of this day was devoted to moving scaffold and a few other items from high above Big Soddy Creek down to the construction site. Although there wasn't that much to move, it did take all morning because after it was lowered from the ledge, it was hand carried down the mountain. After lunch the tedious task of leveling and plumbing the installed steel beams began.

Don's photos

Hand carrying material down the mountain

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bridge Construction

Another milestone was reached today and that was getting the steel for the south side tower across the creek. The entire morning was spent rigging hi-lines for transporting steel from north side to south side. The afternoon was spent transporting steel across the creek and erecting steel on the north side tower. After many months of planning and preparation, steel towers for the suspension bridge are taking shape.

Don's photos

1st piece of steel is erected today

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bridge Construction

Movement of lumber and steel to bridge site was completed today. Erection of steel towers which will support the suspension bridge can now begin.

Lumber and steel staged at bridge site

Friday, October 18, 2013

Bridge Construction

Today was another productive day. While hi-lines were being rigged, most of the lumber was hand carried down to the bridge site. It was after lunch before the rigging was ready to handle heavy steel but the operation went very smoothly when it finally got underway. Tomorrow the steel will be moved further down the mountain and with luck, some might even make it to the construction site.

Don's photos

Carrying lumber down to bridge site

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bridge Construction

Today was another productive day. Lumber for the project was picked up at Floyd Hardware and hauled to the staging area. Then it was moved down to the ledge which took all morning. After lunch the lumber was lowered 110 feet from the ledge down to the next stop on its journey to the bridge site. Now most of the heavy components are over the biggest hurdle, the ledge.

Don's photos

Controlling the load as it is lowered over the ledge

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bridge Construction

Today was productive. The steel bridge components that were moved a few hundred feet down the mountain side yesterday were successfully moved to the ledge, over the 110 foot ledge, and to their next temporary storage location. Tomorrow, weather permitting, they will be zip-lined down to the bridge construction site.

Don's photos

Moving heavy beam

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bridge Construction

I joined the bridge building crew today and helped move steel closer to the construction site on Big Soddy Creek. It involved lots of heavy lifting. Fortunately Renee's tractor did much of the hard work but I'm still too tired to type more than three sentences so glean what you can from the pictures.

Don's photos

Arriving at work site

Friday, October 11, 2013

Back To Sale Creek

Bob DeHart, Judy Varner, TC Varner, and Don Deakins took our kayaks back to Sale Creek while weather is still suitable for such activities. We launched at Iles Road boat ramp which is just across Sale Creek from Patterson Cemetery Road ramp where we normally launch for a Sale Creek trip. Water level is down a couple of feet from summer pool which prevented us from accessing our favorite spot but we were able to make two other side trips, one up Hodgetown Branch and another up Rock Creek. Water temperature has also begun to drop. With water level down and water temperature down, there won't be many more days to enjoy kayaking in Sale Creek.

Launching at Iles Road ramp

Calm water

Paddling up Sale Creek

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Back To Refuge

Caroline Woerner, Bob DeHart, TC Varner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins returned to Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge where we expected to see at least a normal amount of wildlife. Our expectations were not met. It appears that many of the larger birds, ospreys in particular, have migrated south. We did see a few deer and one bald eagle which we were able to observe for an extended period, thanks to TC's spotting scope. Wildlife may be laying low in preparation for deer hunters that will flood the refuge for the next three days.

Don's photos

Group photo at refuge boat ramp

Monday, October 7, 2013

Rock Creek Inspection

TC Varner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins hiked Rock Creek from Upper Leggett Road Trailhead to Rock Creek Campsite and back. Our goal was to inspect the trail after receiving a report of uprooted trees near Rocky Branch Bridge. We found that one tree on the upper side of the trail had fallen across the trail knocking over numerous trees on the lower side of the trail. The root balls pulled out of the ground taking the trail with them and leaving some sizable holes in the trail but still passable. Three other trail obstructions were documented and numerous other smaller obstructions not documented will also require a chainsaw for removal.

Lunch break at Rock Creek Campsite

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Wheeling Black Mtn

TC Varner, Bob DeHart, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins returned to Black Mountain with our GPS devices and a measuring wheel to document the newly rerouted trail which now terminates at the Brady Mountain trailhead on Highway 68. We found that the distance from Black Mountain Parking lot to Brady Mountain trailhead kiosk is 19090 feet or 3.61 miles and the spur trail to Windless Cave is 485 feet long. We also discovered that some trail rerouting work is in progress near the bottom of Black Mountain which will require these numbers to be updated when work is complete.

Group photo at Windless Cave

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Black Mountain

Jan Agee, Brandy Selman, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins made a trip to Black Mountain with plans to collect GPS data for the new segment of Black Mountain Trail and the short segment of Cumberland Trail on the east end of Black Mountain Loop. Our first stop was at the top of Black Mountain where we measured and mapped the short segment of main trail that connects to the east end of Black Mountain Loop and heads in the direction of Crab Orchard. We found that only about 1500 feet of this trail is complete. We then measured the loop trail with a measuring wheel to determine its exact length before driving down to Brady Mountain Trailhead on highway 68. After parking along 68, we crossed the highway, located the new segment of trail, and followed it to the Windless Cave spur trail, obtaining GPS data along the way. We now have sufficient data to update the Black Mountain map and will be returning soon to measure the entire length of Black Mountain Trail.

Group photo on top of Black Mountain

Hiking on new Black Mtn Trail along highway 68

Group photo on new trail near spur to Windless Cave

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Steve's Landing

Ava Navin, Caroline Woerner, Mark Jordan, Teresa Jordan, and Don Deakins paddled to Steve's Landing while Bob Dehart, Carol Deakins, Jan Agee, and Brandy Selman drove but we all arrived early and had to wait on the restaurant to open. Good food and a pleasant group made for an enjoyable evening. We better do it again while the river is still warm.

Don's photos

Waiting on restaurant to open

Friday, September 6, 2013

Sand Island

Bob DeHart and Don Deakins drove up to Foshee Pass Recreation Area on Watts Bar Lake where we launched kayaks and paddled out to Sand Island. The distance from boat ramp to Sand Island was only about 1.4 miles but it took longer than expected to travel that distance because we were paddling against wind and waves. Paddling against the wind worked up our appetites so, after arriving at Sand Island, we didn't wait long to fire up the grill and cook hotdogs. After lunch we paddled around the relatively small island and headed back to the boat ramp. The return trip was much easier as the wind and waves were behind us. This was one of the best kayak events I've been on and I think the hot lunch had something to do with it.

Don's photos

Arrival at Sand Island

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hiwassee Island

Bob DeHart and Don Deakins took advantage of the solitude on Hiwassee River and Tennessee River after the Labor Day crowd had returned to work and school. We hauled our kayaks to our usual launch site for Hiwassee Island, the old Blythe Ferry site, which we had all to ourselves. We were underway in just a few minutes and paddled straight over to Hiwassee Island. Our approximate 6 mile trip around the island included some time inside the island and a side trip over to Ziegler Island where we stopped for lunch. Conditions were ideal but won't be for too much longer so we plan to do more while the weather is suitable.

Paddling inside Hiwassee Island

Lunch break on Ziegler Island

Last leg of trip paddling down Tennessee River

Monday, September 2, 2013

Soddy Gorge Landslide

After receiving a report from Jason Grizzard of a landslide on the Soddy Gorge trail segment, Bob DeHart and I hiked in to inspect the damage. As shown in photos below, we found that most of the slide did not cover the trail but many trees did. A few minutes with a chainsaw will open a hole through the obstruction but it may take an hour or two to remove all trees. Dirt on the trail is about knee deep and covers approximately 30 feet of trail. A few shovels with operators might remove the dirt/mud in a few hours. This landslide is located at coordinates N35 17.193 W85 10.734 which is near where the trail leaves the old coal mining road and begins the climb up Clemmons Point.

View from low side

View from high side

Trail map showing location of slide

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dry Branch

Caroline Woerner, Bob DeHart, Ava Navin, Trish Appleton, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins again returned to Prentice Cooper State Forest to hike jeep trails. Today we hiked the entire length of Dry Branch Road and completed the loop back to vehicles by walking about 1.2 miles on Tower Drive for a total distance of 4.5 miles. It warmed up fast today which made everyone anxious for fall and the cool weather it will bring.

Group photo along Dry Branch Road
Hiking along Dry Branch Road
Our return hike on Tower Drive

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Thief Neck Island

Jan Agee, Brandy Selman, ​Denise Shepard, Mark Jordan, and Don Deakins took a trip to Watts Bar Lake near Rockwood and paddled around Thief Neck Island. Thief Neck is about 1.75 miles long. Our plans were to paddle over to the island, then follow the shoreline which would have resulted in an approximate 9 mile round trip. We skipped some of the inlets which shortened the length to maybe around 8 miles but still managed to spend almost the entire day on the water. We did discover two TVA maintained campsites on Thief Neck that inspired some talk of returning there for an overnight kayak trip.

Don's photos

Preparing for launch

Friday, August 16, 2013

More Road Hiking

Last week we spent two days at Prentice Cooper hiking the Pot Point trail segment and recording video for my next Cumberland Trail video. Unfortunately we brought home many chiggers so it was back to the road walks today in order to avoid the little pests. This hike was about 4.25 miles and consisted of a loop which began on Tower Drive, then Lusk Point Road, followed by Sulphur Branch Road which took us back to Tower Drive and our awaiting vehicle. Weather was superb, almost like a fall day which is extremely unusual for an August in Tennessee.

Hiking along Sulphur Branch Road

Friday, August 2, 2013

Prentice Cooper Road Walk

Bob DeHart, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins returned to Prentice Cooper State Forest to walk the same route we hiked last week, a 5 mile loop along Tower Drive, Sulphur Branch Road and Braddison Brow Road. We had it all to ourselves today except for birds, rabbits, squirrels, and snakes.

Hiking on Braddison Brow Rd in Prentice Cooper

Snake on Braddison Brow Road

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Market St to Suck Creek

Caroline Woerner, Brandy Selman, and Don Deakins spent Sunday on Tennessee River paddling from Market Street Bridge in Chattanooga downstream to Suck Creek boat ramp, a 10.5 mile trip. Weather was ideal and few boats were on the river below Chickamauga Dam which made for a pleasurable day on the water.

Don's photos

Brandy and Caroline paddling down TN River

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Braddison Brow Road

Again we elected to stay away from ticks and chiggers by hiking on jeep trails at Prentice Cooper. Today's 5+ mile hike began and ended on Tower Drive. We parked along Tower Drive at the intersection of Persimmon Branch Road, walked about 1/4 mile down Tower Drive and turned left on Sulphur Branch Road. About 1.75 miles down Sulphur Branch Road we veered left onto Braddison Brow Road, a 3 mile dirt road that took us back to Tower Drive near our starting point.

Hiking on Braddison Brow Road

Braddison Brow Rd skirts along CT near Lawson Rock Overlook

Water crossing on Braddison Brow Rd