Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Piney Maintenance

Today was both fun and productive. Ava Navin, Jan Agee, Brandy Selman, Judy Varner, TC Varner, Bob DeHart, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins removed 17 blow-downs from the 3 mile section of Piney River Trail between Piney Trailhead and Piney River Bridge. We now have cleared both ends of this trail segment and lack only 7 blow-downs on the middle which are located between Deep Pool Cascades and Piney River Bridge. Hopefully those can be removed before weather gets too hot.

Don's photos

Chainsaw got a good workout today

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Duskin Creek Maintenance

Bob, Carol, and I returned to Piney River with intentions of removing six major trail obstructions along Duskin Creek located between Duskin Creek Trailhead and Deep Pool Cascades. I must note that someone had been in here with a chainsaw before us, but rather than remove the obstructions, they detoured the trail around the first two which circumvented about 500 to 600 feet of beautiful trail, most of which skirted along the edge of Duskin Creek. The detour not only bypassed an excellent section but also invalidated track logs and trail measurements. Not only did they do a half-ass job on these but further down the trail where single trees blocked the trail, they trimmed a few limbs but left the tree. It was good for rabbits but didn't help hikers. If the state was responsible for this half-ass maintenance, Cumberland Trail has a dim future. Fortunately, Cumberland Trail Volunteers are back in business and picking up the slack. We returned this section of trail to original configuration in two locations where hikers were forced off trail. More to come.

See Brandy's comment below.

Don's photos and time lapse video

Major trail obstruction removed

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Piney River Inspection

Our goal today was to inspect Piney River Trail in preparation for a May maintenance hike and to perform what maintenance we could without a chainsaw. Our pruners and hand saws did plenty of work; brute force removed many other trail obstructions. However this trail is still in pitiful shape. There are so many blow-downs that it will take a hard working crew with chainsaw at least three days to get this trail back in shape. Looks like Cumberland Trail Volunteers have some work to do.

Don's photos

Blow-downs

Group photo on Duskin Creek

Monday, April 20, 2015

Impromptu Soddy Gulf Hike

Curiosity about Board Camp Creek level and a few phone calls got an unplanned hike organized in just a few minutes. This short 2 mile round trip hike to the back end of the new Soddy Gulf property resulted in us seeing a dangerous Board Camp Creek that we would never attempt to cross and a banded water snake that was almost ready to shed its skin as indicated by the cloudy eye covering.

Group photo at Board Camp Creek crossing

Bull session at confluence of Board Camp Creek and Big Soddy Creek

Banded water snake

Banded water snake

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Soddy Gorge and Gulf

Today's approximate 6 mile Soddy Gorge hike began at the unofficial access point on highway 111 and ended on Soddy Daisy's new Soddy Gulf property at Back Valley Road. Our goal was to check Cumberland Trail for obstructions and to observe wildflowers. The trail was in excellent condition except for one blow-down which TC took care of with his ax and hand saw. Wildflowers were everywhere. Superb weather and excellent company made for another memorable day on the trail.

Don's photos

Group photo at rock house above Board Camp Creek

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Collect Trail Data

After BreakAway 2015 trail construction, we needed trail measurements and GPS data to update the Cumberland Trail map. We made a quick trip back to Graysville Mountain this morning to obtain this data. Our first order of business was to take down the "End of Trail" sign that was placed at the end of last year's BreakAway trail construction. We then measured the new trail with a measuring wheel and recorded GPS data along the way. After reaching end of new trail, we hung the "End of Trail" sign and recorded 3870 feet (.73 mile) of new Graysville Mountain trail constructed this year.

Last year's "End of Trail" sign comes down

"End of Trail" sign is hung .73 mile further down trail

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Little Soddy to Deep Creek

TC Varner, Judy Varner, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins had a very productive day on the Little Soddy to Deep Creek segment of Cumberland Trail. We removed countless trail obstructions that were small enough to be dragged off the trail. Others which could not be dragged required hand saws and a few were cut the old fashion way, with an ax. Only four required the chainsaw. Three of those were easily removed but one monster took about 2 hours to clear from the trail. It was so big we had to start at uphill end and whittle away at it with the chainsaw until it was small enough for the four of us to move. We then had to rebuild the rock steps that were damaged by the blow-down. A timber rattlesnake on the trail added a little excitement to the day. Like all snakes we have encountered, it allowed us to take pictures before crawling into its den.

Don's photos

Timber rattlesnake on trail

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Mowbray to Little Soddy

What better way to spend an Easter Sunday than a maintenance hike on Cumberland Trail. After hearing stories that a recent forest fire had encompassed the trail, Bob, Carol, and I decided to check the trail for damage and debris. We also carried a chainsaw to remove any blow-downs encountered. We found that the fire, which started at bottom of mountain, had reached the trail and burned beyond to the rock bluff above trail. Fortunately only about 500 to 700 feet of trail was exposed to fire with no ill effects. Unfortunately, we encountered 33 blow-downs and trail obstructions along this 4.9 mile trail segment that had to be removed which made for three very tired hikers.

Don's photos

Group photo at Mowbray Pike Trailhead

Friday, April 3, 2015

Graysville Trail Maintenance

TC and I accompanied Anthony Jones and Benji Spenser on a relatively short Graysville Mountain maintenance hike. We removed five blow-downs near Gilbreath Creek, three of which have been an extreme aggravation for many recent hikes. Now that Graysville Mountain Trail is clear of blow-downs, we will focus our attention on other trail segments.

Don's photos

First cut begins