Saturday, November 21, 2020
Mountain to Sea Trail
Fontana Lakcshore Trail
Kentucky Side of Big South Fork
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(All hikes are subject to change at any time)
Benton MacKaye Trail
Friday, November 20, 2020
Lawson Mountain Section 9.8 miles
Arch Mountain Section 13 miles
Frozen Head Section 7.9 miles
Ross Gap trail 2.1 miles
Total Miles: 32.8
Marco picked the trail and off we went. I first showed him the wrong trailhead as we were going I remembered the last time here and had Lora drive to the Smoky Creek road and read the sign saying Cave Branch trailhead. Oops. We then drove to Norman Road and started our hike on the Lawson Mountain section.
First thing we noticed was the new bridges. The second thing we noticed was that the Cumberland trail has not been maintanced on the Lawson or Arch section in many years. Lot's of trees down, some extremely large, overgrown sections, and missing trail markers.
We hiked in 3.0 miles and set up camp at the top end of Lick Creek. We heard an owl as we were setting up camp. We enjoyed the stars as we sat around the campfire taking our cough medicine. The wind really got up during the night which made us wet the fire pit down before bed.
The next morning we continued to fight our way down the trail. The climb to the top of the mountain was brutal with large trees across the switchbacks. When we got to the section where the Bowling Town coal mining community once existed, where the ponds are we lost the trail. Two other trails are marked in this area, but the Cumberland Trail was not. The road went both ways with a split going on one end. We found the trail after going down the road that was signed "Dead End." We ate lunch at the creek at mile 6.4. The next climb to the top was the same as the first. This is such a beautiful area for hiking, I just wish they would maintain this trail. The rocks on the top were amazing along with the "Stacked Rocks". When the trail dropped off the edge heading down, we lost the trail again. We came to a road bed that went three different ways. There were no markers anywhere along any of these roads. After studing the map we just went down the mountain side until we crossed the trail again. It was getting late by the time we made it to the Cave Branch Trailhead. We crossed the new bridge over Smoky Creek and hiked along the creek and made camp for the night. This was supposed to be our coldest night so we gathered lots of fire wood. Another clear night to watch the stars. We saw deer two different places today and some salamanders in a puddle.
Another day of battling the trail through some beautiful areas. We lost the trail again as we crossed the footbridge over Straight Fork. There is no markers showing that the trail goes right. Another extremely hard climb to the top with trees across the switchbacks. We carried extra water for the 7.5 mile section that doesn't have any water. When you come to the road walk, there are no blazes to tell you which road to take. More exploring. When you do get on the right road it is full of waterholes all along the travel across the top of the mountain. While trying to go around the small lakes in the road you will be battling the briars. We did get to see some icicles along the rocks. The last time the trail leaves the gravel road we made camp on the side of the mountain. We saw a passel of wild hogs which came back through while we were setting up. Another windy clear night. We got to see deer again today and hear owls.
We got up and hiked on to Frozen Head State Park. The trails here are in good shape. Lot's of ups and downs still. We ate lunch where the CT crosses the Tower trail. We enjoyed the Castle Rocks, Mushroom rock, and the rock hop along the rock wall. We camped by the pond for the night. Another clear windy night. We heard owls and coyotes.
We got up and hiked to the Ross Gap trail and took it back to the headquarters of Frozen Head.
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Day One: 6.9 Outcasts Total Miles: 2501.2
Day Two: 5.7
We could get our days off from work for a five day hike so we ended up doing an overnight hike at Long Hunter State Park. We hiked in the Day Loop and took the Volunteer trail to the campsite #2.
On the way in we saw some day hikers, deer, and listened to the Loon's out on the lake. It was snowing and the high was 32 for the day. When we got to camp we started gathering firewood for the long evening with the temps getting down in the twenties. Troy built a fire that even NASA was complaining about. It kept us warm all night. Lies were told and cough medicine was taken.
We heard coyotes in the night but the exciting part was waking up to gunshots at six in the morning. Jumping up out of a hammock never does go very well. Getting in the defensive position only to find out that it was duck hunters. Troy and Marco just went back to sleep. I was up for the day.
More gunshots as the morning progressed. We ate, packed up, and headed down the trail. We just followed the Volunteer trail on the way out. We did see the deer again.
Friday, November 22, 2019
Day One: 4.0 Outcasts Total Miles: 2488.6
Day Two: 8.0
Day Three: 8.0
Day Four: 10.5
Day Five: 3.5
Total Miles: 34
This is our first visit back on the Sheltowee Trace since 2011 when we finished the whole trail. Since that time they have rerouted the trail through the Big South Fork, so we thought that we would go back and do the reroute. The sections that are also part of the John Muir trail, which we hiked in 2009, where the only repeated sections.
We planned on exiting our trip at the Parch Corn Creek trailhead on Terry Cemetery road. This trail is no longer maintained by the park. Lora and I found it in a book in 2012 and hiked it back then on a loop hike. It was well overgrown then, but who doesn't like a challenge? I felt a little confident on the location of the trailhead and we left the car there.
We drove to Burnt Mill bridge to start this hike at the Southern Terminus of the Sheltowee Trace. Once on the trail and seeing the jalapeno man we learned that the John Muir also relocated to this same trail. This is a very pretty hike along the river with a lot of bluff walls before it climbs up and starts through the woods. There is a creek that shows on the map about four miles in on the trail. When we dropped down into the gorge we could see water, but when we crossed the creek it was dry. So down hill we went until we found the water and we made camp here. It was a good night telling lies around the fire drinking cough medicine.
We got up and on the trail. Just before you get to the Honey Creek loop, the trail turns into road. As the Sheltowee was famous for back in the days, there was no marking which way to turn from here. With a little exploring, we decided to continue straight and it paid off. The Honey Creek loop adds some challenges as you climb, drop down, and crawl through rocks and obstacles. After the loop you climb over the ridge and start back down to the river gorge. We saw a doe and two bucks cross the trail in front of us. There is a picnic table before you start the drop.
I know that horses are not stupid, but somehow they end up on these trails clearly marked for hikers only and warnings about how dangerous these trails are. They have torn up this trail. You go by an Indian rock house and a water fall on your way to the O&W bridge. We crossed over the newly repaired bridge and followed the trail along the main river. We stopped about two thirds of a mile from the Leatherwood Ford on an old road bed to make camp for the night. We saw our first two people who were trail runners. It started sprinkling about the same time we got our hammocks up so there was a small panic as we got our tarps out and deployed. No campfire tonight, but it did stop raining.
We headed up and crossed over the Leatherwood Ford bridge. The old hiking bridge is still out. It was a beautiful day for hiking as we climbed up to the Angle Falls overlook. This is where we saw our second two people who were out day hiking. We enjoyed the overlooks and rock walls as we took the Fall Branch trail around and down to the John Litton loop. We made camp just into the Scott State Forest. Plenty of good firewood here for the night. Stars were out and we heard owls and coyotes.
Today we had good weather again. We hiked around the Honey creek campground and across Jack's Ridge dropping down to cross Laurel Fork Creek and Black House branch. We stopped by the Charit Creek Lodge for a visit on our way by. They have done a lot of work here getting the place cleaned up.
We continued our hike out to the big river to make camp for the night. Once again lies were told and medicine taken around a nice campfire. Right about midnight the rain came in.
There was some apprehension about me finding the Parch Corn Creek trail. Just cause it was years ago and I didn't hike it from this direction and I didn't remember much about it and.......
We headed out feeling good because there was a sign with Parch Corn Creek on it stating we had 1.1 miles to get there. After we crossed the creek we turned left and started following the trail. Where the trail crossed back over the creek I knew we had to stay on the right side of it even though the trail faded off into the river. We crawled along the bank until it turned back into a road bed. Then we came across the old home site and I felt better. The trail continued out and then through a field which I didn't remember so back to the home site we went. I found what could be a road bed and it was going straight uphill so I knew it had to be it. After we climbed a while I found the tail tail sign it used to be a trail. The sawed off tree along side! Continuing up the side of the mountain following the faded trail we finally got to the top where we found the two poles with a sign stating no cars beyond this point. I was feeling good then. We continued to battle through brush until it opened up to a road bed and finally the rock walls with the Indian rock house. And yes, the car was at the end of the trail!
We had a great hike followed by Waffle House after we retrieved the truck from Burnt Mill Bridge.
Friday, November 1, 2019
Day One: 9.6 Outcasts Total Miles: 2454.6
John Litton Farm Loop 4.2
Duncan Hollow road 0.6
Duncan Hollow Bypass 0.2
Duncan Hollow bike loop 1.7
Duncan Hollow Bypass 1.4
Jack's Ridge Loop 1.2
Laurel Fork Creek 0.3
Day Two: 9.7
Laurel Fork Creek 3.7
Fork Ridge Trail 3.8
Black Horse Branch 2.0
Laurel Fork Creek 0.2
Day Three: 8.5
Laurel Fork Creek 6.6
Slave Falls Loop 1.1
Middle creek loop 0.8
Day Four: 9.6
Middle creek loop 0.8
Fork Ridge road 1.2
Salt Pine Ridge 2.5
Laurel Fork Creek 0.4
Salt Pine Ridge 1.7
West Entrance trail 3.0
Total Miles: 36.6
Troy called out sick for this hike. Since we were planning on doing a part of the Sheltowee and didn't want to have to repeat the trip for Troy, Marco picked some trails in the Big South Fork.
We parked by the pool at Bandy Creek Campground and took the John Litton farm loop. It follows the creek to an old farm where Marco got surprised by a large black snake. When we got to the Duncan Hollow road we took a right and followed it to the Duncan Hollow Bypass road and then did the Duncan Hollow bike trail. This is where the extremely large bear poop. Almost 2" in diameter! Back on the Bypass road we got to hear a Baird Owl calling and then when we got to the trail junction of Jack's Ridge Loop we saw a Momma bear and her four cubs. She stopped and checked us out for a minute and then headed on. We took Jack's Ridge Loop down and crossed the Laurel Creek, for the first of 30 crossings, and took the trail crossing once again before setting up camp for the night. It was a peaceful night around the campfire.
We got up and headed East towards the big river. We had 4 more crossings today. We got to see a small garter snake just before connecting to the Fork Ridge trail. It is an extremely sharp climb up the ridge before it levels out for a nice walk through the woods. We took the Black Horse Branch trail back to Laurel creek and then took a right on Laurel Creek trail and found a nice campground for the night.
We got up and got read this morning. We had twenty five river crossing today. We hiked about four miles with crocks on because we crossed so many times. It started a light rain and by lunch we had to have poncho's on. The rain stopped by our last crossing and we climbed up the ridge to the Middle creek trail where we found a spring and stopped for the night. We had a nice campfire again tonight and dried things out. It was a warm night and stayed warm all night. Heavy rain later that night.
We got up to the beginning of steady rain that would hang with us most of the day. We packed up and headed to the Fork Ridge road which led us to Salt Pine ridge. We were wondering about the Laurel Creek after all the rain. The one crossing we had today was about a foot higher then yesterday just up to our knees. We crossed and headed up to the West Entrance trail head. The wind had picked up and the temperature was dropping fast. We ended up with the rain coats on and gloves under the poncho. The rain cut out for lunch and mainly it was just water off the trees.
After our celebration at the Waffle House, Marco drove through a small snow fall.
Thursday, April 4, 2019
Day One: 3.8 Outcasts Total Miles: 2418
VA 670 to VA 601
Day Two: 11.2
VA 601 to USFR 644
Day Three: 9.9
USFR 644 to Little Brushy Mt.
Day Four: 4.5
Little Brushy Mt. to VA 610
Total Miles: 29.4
This hike we started by leaving our car at the Quarter Way Inn in Ceres, VA. Tina met us at the door with a welcoming smile. We got a tour of the old farm house which is a must if you are in the area.
We used Bubba (276-730-5869) for our shuttle driver who took us back to Teas Road to start our hike. It was a cool windy afternoon, but the sun was shining beautifully.
We started the climb up Pugh Mt. and then made camp up on VA 601. There was a lady Southbounder camped there for the night so after visiting we went across the road a ways and set up camp for the night. We had us a campfire, ate, and took some cough medicine under the stars.
We got up and did us some walking today. We checked out the fancy Partnership Shelter which has a shower and a view of the lake below. We saw two day hikers near the Mount Rogers NRA Headquarters. We climbed Brushy Mt. and Locust Mt. today and then headed to the Chatfield Shelter, which is not hammock friendly. We crossed USFS 644 and found a place to hang for the night. It was another beautiful night under the stars.
I saw for the first time in my life, a comet hitting the atmosphere and exploding. It was awesome and shot flames every which direction. I tried to point it out to Marco, but it happened too fast. That night the owls talked to us after we were in our hammocks.
We got packed up after breakfast and headed out. We got to checkout the Lindamood Schoolhouse along side the trail. A Baptist church had stocked it for thru hikers with drink, food, and hygiene supplies. It got to shorts and tee shirt weather today. Lots of beautiful scenery until we got to US 81 dodging traffic. Gotta do what you gotta do.
We ate lunch at the cow pasture after VA 617 and saw another Southbounder. We filled up with water after crossing the cow pasture and took advantage of the water with a quick bath. Davis Path Campsite is the location of an old shelter. The privy is still there and a picnic table, but no water. After that we climbed Little Brushy Mt. which really is not little! Especially after loading up with extra water.
We found us a campsite for the night on top and had another great evening around the campfire.
After leaving camp and going down the mountain, as we were hiking through a rhododendron tunnel, I saw a deer standing right in the middle of the trail just looking back at me. She waited until I got her picture.
We finally found what we were looking for. The quarter of the way sign. It is located at Crawfish Valley just before the side trail. Someone had painted out the mileage each way to Maine and Georgia, but it was still the quarter way mark.
After that we climbed Big Walker Mt. and down to VA 610. We added a quarter mile going back to the Quarter Way Inn where we had another great visit with Tina before heading to Waffle House.
Thursday, March 14, 2019
Day One: 3.0 Outcasts Total Miles: 2388.6
US 58 to spring
Day Two: 11.0
Spring to Damascus 2.0
Connector trail 0.5
Massie Gap to Old Orchard shelter 8.5
Day Three: 8.0
Old Orchard shelter to Dicky Gap trailhead
Day Four: 8.2
Dicky Gap trailhead to VA 670
Total Miles: 30.2
This hike we used Sundog Outfitters for our shuttle service.
We had our shuttle drop us off at US 58 to make up for our early departure from last hike to avoid the storms. We hiked to a spring just before the downhill into town and made camp for the night. The next morning we hiked to Sundog Outfitters and had them shuttle us to drop off the car at VA 670 and then take us back to Grayson Highlands and drop us off.
With the weather a 100% better than last hike, there were more people out and we enjoyed the views as we hiked across the top of the mountains and balds to the Scales. We got to see the wild ponies again and then headed down to the Old Orchard shelter for the night. When we got there we saw eleven hammocks swinging in the trees. A group of college students from Missouri were doing an overnight backpack. We got to visit a little bit before we set up our camp down the hill from them. The Old Orchard shelter is a log shelter with no chinking so you might want to think about that if you are planning on staying in the shelter.
We got up a little later today as we didn't have as far to go. The students had gotten up at 6am and headed out. It was another beautiful day for hiking. We stopped at the Hurricane Mt. shelter for lunch, but did not climb up to the actual shelter. We set up camp at the unmarked Dickey Gap trail for the night. Troy and I headed back to the last spring to get water instead of taking the trail down to the river which was rather steep. Of course the next day we found that just up the trail was another spring which would have been a lot closer.
We got off for a good start today. The weather got warmer and we had to go to shorts, but no complaints there. More hikers today as well. We got to see the Comer Creek Falls and got to see a couple of deer today. Our plans were to stay at the Trimpi shelter tonight, but we got word of storms coming in so we hiked on the the car. This is the first hike a quite a while that nothing came down from the clouds on us so we were quite excited.