Monday, May 21, 2007

Savage Gulf to Hobbs Cabin II

May 2007
Savage Gulf to Hobbs Cabin II..... Trail Rating........Outcasts Total: Miles 134.4
Savage Day Loop.......4.1 Miles.......Easy
Savage Day Loop.......2.0 Miles......Easy
North Rim Trail.........0.3 Miles......Easy
North Plateau Trail....7.1 Miles......Easy
North Rim Trail.........3.5 Miles......Easy
Mountain Oak Trail...0.8 Miles......Easy
Big Tree Spur Trail...0.8 Miles.......Easy
North Plateau Trail...1.2 Miles...... Easy
North Rim Trail.......0.3 Miles.......Easy
Savage Day Loop......2.0 Miles.......Easy
Total……………….......22.1 Miles

This was a make up hike for me. Since we had a date picked that Greg couldn't make we changed the date for the Mousetail Landing Trail. No use in just throwing away the other reserved date. Troy and I made this trip.

When we got out at the ranger station I asked if Troy had decided which trail he wanted to take. Before I got it out of my mouth he informed me that we are hiking ten miles in. He had the trail figured out. The man was on a mission. He had originally thought that Hobbs cabin was a ten mile in and ten mile out trail. He had worked to get to this point and after the last hike to Hobbs Cabin he found out that it was a little short. We were going to hike twenty miles. He had his mind set. He said ten; I say thirteen and a half. I always have to raise him.

The lady at the Rangers station remembered me. She was in her usual clever state. Well we ended up doing the Day Loop as a warm up before we got serious and headed down the Plateau Trail to Hobbs Cabin. This threw off a young couple as we passed them going both ways. We passed another group of guys that were leaving and they looked like death warmed over. Troy said that they looked like they just finished the Appellation Trail in record time.

Mother Nature didn’t see us sneak in. The weather was wonderful and the sights beautiful. We jumped up some deer and seen quite the array of birds and squirrels. There was some discrepancy in the map and the number of old roads. They had labeled four of the nine roads we crossed. We finally figured out that the Old Hobbs Cabin road was the one gravel road we crossed. We sat down here and removed about twenty ticks apiece. At the start of the trail we covered ourselves with a new orange scented bug spray that Troy found. It does not bother ticks. The best that we can figure, we must have hiked through a nest of ticks. We pulled them off all the way down the trail and including in the campsite.

There were two guys staying in the cabin, one guy in a campsite, and the young couple finally showed up later. Troy started a fire as I went and collected some water. Later that evening, the same Ranger that drove me out of the woods for my family emergency last trip, showed up and we had a nice visit with him. He asked about Samantha and said that he had a mother at a church picnic whose child had a seizure. He told her that he had just been through the same thing and everything was going to be all right. We told him about some trees down and he said that he was getting a new man next week. We noticed that the spring was a lot lower on water than last time and asked the Ranger about that. He said that he never saw it dry, but if they didn’t get more rain he wasn’t sure it would last.

After a good nights sleep we got up and hung out at the camp for a while. I went and checked out the outhouse, jiggled the handle, headed back to camp and stood frozen in the entrance. There was Troy sitting by the fire petting a doe. Over his shoulder was a ten-point buck. Where was my camera? In my backpack across the campsite. I started toward my pack and the buck walked off in the woods and the doe walked to the edge of camp. When I started unzipping my pocket the doe walked off. No pictures, so you will just have to take my word for it.

We headed off taking the North Rim Trail and cutting across the Mountain Oak Trail. The Big Tree Spur Trail is a trail that the Boy Scouts made. It is worth checking out. This hike was a record-breaking trail for old Troy. He told me back in October before our hiking began that he was good for up to five miles. Well thirteen in one day is quite an accomplishment. He was even impressive at the end making the last two miles in forty minutes. Reminded me of our horses when we were heading back to the barn.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mousetail Landing

May 2007
Mousetail Landing.......................Trail Rating.......Outcasts Total: 112.3 Miles
Road to Old Spring,
Bike Trail to Pavilion
Back to Park Office.....5.0 Miles......Moderate
Overnight Loop..........8.0 Miles......Moderate
Total………………........13.0 Miles

We have given up on anyone joining us. We have seen nothing more of Logan. The three Outcasts made this hike. Greg has a reputation to keep. He always forgets something or the other, but this time he took it to the master level. After he got to work, his wife called and asked him if he was still going hiking. He said “well ya!” Then she asked if he would be needing the backpack that he had left by the door.

We decided to add in a road hike just to bring the miles up on this one. The overnight loop is eight miles and we wanted to add just a little more than the three-mile day loop. On the way out we would either catch the day loop or hike the Lady Finger Bluff trail that we had read about.

So we started out on the road from the park office heading toward the archery range. There is one of those caution signs with the truck going down hill. They had used this sign, but put it where the truck was going almost straight up using it as a sign to warn trucks about going up this hill. Right next to this sign, in the middle of the road was a dead squirrel lying on its back. It made for a great picture opportunity. As we started up this hill we soon found out that the sign was indeed correct. It was a major hill. After you get up this hill and finally stop gasping for breath, you of course head back down hill, which leads to a picnic area. When we got to the end of the picnic area we were going to head down a bike trail that would take us back to the South side of the park.

We stopped at the last picnic pavilion to take a break. This is where we answered the question: “When a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it does it still make a noise?” Not only did it make a major racket it also got the undivided attention of three hikers. We left from there and hiked the bike trail, which was a relatively flat trail. This is where I had my sneezing attack. I couldn’t stop sneezing for anything. Why? I don’t know. Just because. So we came up on our first view of the Tennessee River. As we gazed at this view you couldn’t help but notice that on the opposite side of the river the sun was shining off an aluminum canoe. Right next to the canoe was a beautiful well-built blonde, which happened to be wearing a very small bikini. You could hear her yelling across “Hey boys, come here. I have some beer.” Troy gave me the big elbow. “Hey, that’s my fantasy.” Sorry about that, I got lost in the moment. There was a canoe with someone by it. Anyway, just before we got to the pavilion we did get to see a wild turkey cross the trail.

Now it was time to eat. A busload of school kids had just departed from the pavilion and the Ranger was getting ready to leave. He noticed our packs and said, “I think you guys might be lost”. We explained what we were doing and he said that a cleaning crew would be down to wash out the pavilion. We let him know that we would be leaving soon after we ate.

We got our lunch over, you know, fine Troy fried chicken, when the wind started to pick up. The clouds were looking a little mean and the thunder was sounding from the distance. We needed to make the decision to head out or wait the rain out. What would real men do??????? As we headed out the Ranger came back by with a hose on the top of the truck. He stopped and said, “I just found out that I was the clean up crew.” We figured…. New Man. Any way, Greg and Troy had put on their pack covers. I was the optimistic one of the bunch. I was also the wrong one of the bunch.

We got a good half-mile down the overnight trail before the rain set in. We saw a box turtle. Then the storm set in. Then the tornado set in. OK, maybe not a tornado, but the weather was wicked. Trying to remember the safety during lightning storms checklist. One, you don’t want to be in the woods. Dupe… Two, stay away from high trees.. Dupe. Seek shelter, well it’s five miles away, but we are heading that way. I found out later that Greg was thinking the same thing as I was; we need to list everyone’s name separately on the camping permit. The “what if’s” start going through your head. FLASH, BANG, Your feet have left….try to catch them. Wow, that one was close. You first notice that you are air borne when you hit the ground. Quick survey to see which tree is falling in your direction. None have fallen on you, check on your partners. It was a pretty good storm. Finally I see the shelter. Greg had already got there and had a fire going in the potbelly stove. He said that after that last lightning crash he found his feet in the shelter so he stopped. He saw a box turtle.

Talk about a nice shelter. The nicest that I have seen. Big screened in front porch, with a potbelly stove. Bunks for eight people, I guess that it is a twelve by twelve with the raised ceiling. View off the front porch looking over the Tennessee River down the bluff wall. This is labeled on the map as shelter number two. The rain slowed, but it rained on and off the rest of the night. We decided to just stay in the shelter. That night I sure missed my hammock.

We had a little trouble straightening out that next morning. We did get to hear and see the tugboat pushing the barges down the river before we lay down for the night. Seems like you can hear them forever. Surprisingly, the clothes and shoes weren’t dry by morning. The rain had stopped and after breakfast we headed out. We saw a box turtle.

The trail was a lot of ups and downs. Really nice and well marked. We came across a metal object down by the river that we could not make out. Greg and I went down to investigate. The best that we could come up with is that it was part of an old channel marker. Just inside it I saw the snakeskin. It looked like a rattler skin. As Greg bent down to look at it a stick scraped the side of his pack and he went into instant pee pee dance moves. Of course I had to immediately go into a horselaugh as he perfected the go to hell look and sent it my way.

We got back on the path and Troy had already smoked by us. We saw a box turtle. We figured that we wouldn’t see him until we got back to the truck, but we did catch up to him.

The Turkey’s revenge. I guess that Turkeys in the park know that they don’t have to worry about hunters, so they hunt the backpackers. We were climbing a steep hill and the Turkey waited until the last hiker passed him and did the old I gotta fly now routine. I was in the lead and thought that one of my partners had fallen back down the hill. The other two did the old panic routine. They didn’t know what it was, but knew that it was big. Like the pacemakers needed to be tested.

At the top of the hill was the next shelter, similar to the first. We took a break there. We saw a box turtle. The next surprise was when I was following Greg and he just walked right over a three foot black snake. Hey, hey, you can’t do that. He turned around and I pointed at the snake. Damn, I didn’t see that. Troy caught up with us. Greg took his hiking stick and poked at it to get it to run off. Troy stepped to my left by a pile of rocks when we heard the old fashion rattle sound that you hear on those old western movies. We all looked over and it was huge. The body was already headed under the rock but the three foot that was still showing was about three inches in diameter, Troy said it was four inches in diameter. It had a stack of rattles that would make my grandchildren jealous. Here we go chasing our feet again. After we regain our composer, we decided to go back and take a picture. He was gone.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful other than the Macarena, which I did on one of the slippery bridges. I think I hit every move. We saw a box turtle. When we got back to the truck we voted on eating back at the pavilion and then heading to the Lady Finger Bluff. We did one of those sink baths at the restroom so we could stand sitting next to each other.

We headed back to town where Greg stopped for a change of clothes and then we started following the signs to Lady Finger Bluff. The road started playing out from marked black top, to black top, to gravel, to dirt, and finally to the fork in the road. No sign telling us which way to go. Two trucks were coming from the left so we went right. We kept going and going until another unmarked fork in the road. We were way out in banjo country and decided to turn around. A truck was coming from the other way so I stopped and rolled down my window. He said that he could tell we were lost. He noticed my MTSU sticker and said he was from Nashville and asked if I went to MTSU. I told him that I had a daughter that started there. He said that I looked too young to have a daughter. I asked him if this was just all hunting land out here and he just laughed Heh heh. Red flags went to flying. He said that he could tell us a short cut to Lady Finger Bluff and I just said we could find our way out. Greg said that we had seen a black truck and gray truck back at the first intersection and that was probably where we got off. He said that he knew which trucks we were talking about. Another red flag waved. OK, we gotta go.

When we got back to the first fork we turned the other way and found the parking for Lady Finger Bluff. It was a desolate area out in the middle of nowhere. A vote was taken and we headed to Murfreesboro. We were not feeling all that comfortable out there. Over all we have to rate the Mouse Tail as a really nice park. The trails, because of the hills are going to be rated as Moderate.