Sunday, October 15, 2017

2 Saws Better Than 1

Today was very productive. Working with trail runners, we completed removing all trail obstructions from Possum Gorge Trail, a 9.6 mile stretch. This trail segment is now ready for the UpChuck trail race.

Don's photos

The north crew with two saws and six workers

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

More Maintenance

Lonnie Rogers, Erica Rayburn, Alexus Locke, and I spent the morning removing blow-downs and brush from Rock Creek Trail. We can now report the main trail between Retro Hughes Road and Upper Leggett Road is clear. The lower half of Rock Creek Loop still needs some attention and is on our "To-Do" list.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Trail Maintenance

Jan Agee, Lonnie Rogers, Brianna Locke, and I spent the entire day at Rock Creek removing blow-downs, overhanging limbs, and brush from the main trail between Retro Hughes Trailhead and Upper Legget Trailhead. The chainsaw developed a fuel leak which prevented us from completing the job so we are planning a return trip in the near future. Even though we did not remove all blow-downs, the few we left are easily stepped over.

Don's photos 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Paddle Hiwassee Island

Today's trip around Hiwassee and Ziegler Island will probably be our last paddle event this season. Extended forecast calls for cooler weather on the way but fortunately we had ideal weather today. We'll hang up paddles and break out chain saws in preparation for some fall trail maintenance on Cumberland Trail.

Don's photos

Group photo in shade of Cypress tree on Ziegler Island

Friday, September 8, 2017

Sand Island

We had planned on relaxing in the shade but it was too cool and windy so we spent our entire time on the island sitting in the sun.

Relaxing in the sun on Sand Island

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Rock Creek Maintenance

Six volunteers hiked in about .7 mile on the Rock Creek access trail to remove a blow-down that was forcing hikers off trail. We removed the one major trail obstruction and left other less significant blow-downs for cooler weather. A group this size makes chainsaw work easier. Each person carried equipment which lightened the load for the person carrying the saw. Hopefully we can get this crew together again next month and get Rock Creek Trail clear from end to end.

Group photo at Rock Creek Trailhead

Trail before blow-down removal
Trail after blow-down removal
Bull session after work

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Off Road and Off Trail

Had a fun day at Prentice Cooper 4-wheeling with some experienced off-roaders which just happened to be all ex-SQN employees.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Painting Blazes

What was once a shortcut from Rock Creek Upper Trailhead to Boiling Spring Bridge and painted with blue blazes was reclassified to main trail a few years ago. Rock Creek Loop was originally the main trail and painted with white blazes to designate it as main trail. Today the colors were changed to match the revised trail classification. Now the loop is painted with blue blazes and the trail between Rock Creek Upper Trailhead and Boiling Spring Bridge is painted with white blazes.

Painting blue blazes on loop trail

Painting white blazes on main trail

Monday, August 14, 2017


We did something a little different today. Bob took his Kawasaki Mule and I took my Kawasaki Teryx to Prentice Cooper for a little back road exploration. We covered much more ground and exerted much less energy than hiking these roads. This could become habit forming.

Crossing Mullens Creek

Crossing Mullens Creek

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Prentice Cooper

We had 11 participants today, 8 people and 3 dogs. This hike was only 3.5 miles. The first 2.9 miles were on dirt roads and the last .6 mile on Cumberland Trail. It was a fun hike until the end when an encounter with yellow jackets resulted in the lead hiker getting stung.

Group photo on Maple Branch Road

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Wildlife Refuge

We had an enjoyable morning at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge. The early morning weather felt almost like October which was invigorating. Apparently deer enjoy cooler weather too as we encountered many along the way including two fawns that let us walk right up to them. We discovered the large west pond has been drained for repair and the smaller east pond remains dry. Sunflower fields in full bloom added color to the landscape.
West pond inlet and outlet

West pond is drained

East pond remains dry

Two brave fawns

One of many sunflower fields

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sand Island

My brother and I picked a good day to paddle out to Sand Island. TVA and TWRA were hauling rip-rap to the island in an effort to stop erosion which is slowly eating away at the shore line. It was noisy so not the place to be if you were looking for peace and quite.

Loading rip-rap onto barge

Unloading at Sand Island

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Road Walk

We got an early start today and were well down Persimmon Branch Road by 7:30 AM. That allowed us to complete the four mile hike before the scheduled start time of 9:00 AM. These early road hikes have two advantages: beat the heat and no ticks.

Hiking down Persimmon Branch Road

Friday, June 30, 2017

Trail Maintenance

Lonnie, Brianna, Carol, and Don ignored the rain and completed our Graysville Mountain maintenance hike as planned. We were hoping for a break in weather but rain never let up until we were back at the trailhead. Everyone was soaking wet but it felt better than if it had been hot and humid.



Group photo at Roaring Creek Trailhead

Sunday, June 11, 2017

McGill Creek South

Judy, TC, Carol, and I explored the McGill Creek Trail presently under construction on south side of McGill Creek. It is rugged terrain and can be very strenuous but we maintained a casual pace which made it much more enjoyable.

Don's photos

Group photo at McGill Falls

Saturday, June 3, 2017

National Trails Day

In recognition of National Trails Day, I worked with the Southern Trail Crew on construction of McGill Creek Trail. The amount of work that has been done by this small crew in such rugged terrain is phenomenal; lots of rock work building steps, water crossings, and through boulder fields where the trail is all rock with no dirt to work with. Today we rerouted a section of trail around an eroded area and built rock steps. I also collected GPS data on the completed trail and learned that it is a straight line distance of about 1900 feet from their present location to McGill Creek Bridge site.

Don's photos 

Group photo along McGill Creek Trail

Map showing approximate length of trail to be built

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Sand Island

Bob and I drove up to Watts Bar Lake and made a leisurely paddle out to Sand Island. After reaching the island, we carried lawn chairs and lunch to shady spot in middle of island where we enjoyed the tranquility. After relaxing in shade, we ate lunch, then paddled around the island and back to boat ramp on highway 304.

Arriving Sand Island

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sale Creek

Although we didn't have Sale Creek to ourselves, there were few people out considering it was a Memorial Day Weekend. Lora, Sara, and I paddled through the swamp area, up Sale Creek, and into Rock Creek as far as we could go. We then paddled down stream to the point where Brown's Bridge was visible before returning to the launch site. Mother Nature provided excellent overcast conditions for a day on the water.

Paddling Sale Creek

Paddling Rock Creek

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sale Creek

Bob and I made a quick trip to Sale Creek with our kayaks to determine if we remembered how to paddle. After a couple of passes through the swamp area and a short distance up Hodgetown Branch, we learned that we could still paddle so we are ready for another event on the water.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Rock Creek Blow-Downs

Bob, Carol, and I spent a few hours this morning at Rock Creek removing blow-downs from the trail. Hikers can now hike the entire length of Rock Creek without having to leave the trail to circumvent an obstacle. However there are a few blow-downs remaining but can easily be climbed or stepped over. Some of them will require a bigger saw than my 16 inch Stihl.

Time lapse video - removing blow-downs that forced hikers off trail



Sunday, May 7, 2017

More Trail Maintenance

Judy Varner, TC Varner, Bob DeHart, Carol Deakins, and Don Deakins spent Sunday morning on Possum Gorge Trail removing a large tree and its root ball that has been there for about two years. It actually took three trips; Friday we went to look and evaluate, Saturday we cut the tree, and today we did lots of digging, root cutting, and finally dragged it off trail with cable and come-a-long. The time lapse video is poor quality due to mixture of sun and shade but it does show a beehive of activity.

Time lapse video

Group photo after work complete

Removing dirt and roots to decrease size

Removing dirt and roots to decrease size

Removing dirt and roots to decrease size

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Rock Creek Main Trail

Bob DeHart, TC Varner, and I spent all day on Rock Creek's main trail doing an inspection and removing all trail obstructions we could with an ax, hand saws, and brute force. We removed countless trees and limbs but there is a few days work left to be done with a chain saw and a big crew. Rock Creek's main trail is a mess. We need Jane's help.

A few photos of work we did and all trees needing a chainsaw

Group photo near Flat Branch

Map showing location of trees to be cut

Friday, April 28, 2017

Rock Creek Loop

Bob and I removed five blow-downs from Rock Creek Loop, three of which forced hikers off trail. We can now report that Rock Creek Loop and the access trail from lower trailhead are in good shape. Click link below to see time lapse video of two trail obstructions we cleared.

Time Lapse Video

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Rock Creek Inspection

Bob and I inspected Rock Creek Loop Trail and found that much chainsaw work is needed. Here's a map of the loop showing position of blow-downs followed by photos of trail obstructions. The worst ones (001 thru 004) are on the lower section of loop. 005 is on the upper section of loop and is easily stepped over so may not be worth carrying a chainsaw that far.

Loop map showing location of blow-downs
Numerous trees down at this location
This blow-down crosses trail in two spots
Another tangled mess with multiple trees
It they could all be this easy
This one on upper loop may not be worth going after
These are near spur trail to Leggett Point