Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Big Ridge State Park

DAY ONE: 5.8                                                                 Outcast Total Miles: 1367.49
Lake Trail 1.5
Ghost House Loop 1.2
Road Walk 0.5
Big Valley Trail 1.3
East Dark Hollow Trail 1.3

DAY TWO: 8.8
East Dark Hollow Trail 1.3
Big Valley 0.4
Indian Rock Loop 2.6
Sharp's Station 0.4
Big Valley 0.4
West Dark Hollow Trail 2.7
Loyston Overlook 0.5
Lake Trail 0.5

Total Miles: 14.6

Well we finally made it to Big Ridge State Park on Norris Lake.  Troy had to cancel for family reasons, but we had Travis join us.  This was his first backpacking trip.  So my Dad, Marco, Travis, and I made it to the park by 12:30.  We got our permit and then hit the trail.  The park ranger was extremely friendly and helpful.  The park only has around 16 miles of trail so we did some figuring to get as many in as we could.

We started out on the Lake Trail just North of the park office.  The first big thing you come to is the park dam which holds the lake up for the park.  The rest of Norris Lake was about 35 feet down from normal.  We continued on the Lake Trail and stopped to look at the Snodderly Cemetery.  From there we took the Ghost House Loop counterclockwise and then road walked past the old Grist Mill to the Big Valley trail.  We took the Big Valley trail to the East Dark Hollow trail to Norris Lake where we camped for the night.  With the water down on the lake, Travis and I hiked another quarter mile down to actually see the lake.

There is a spring next to the campsite so that is where we collected our water.  After being told that he was in charge of the fire, Travis had flames before we got our hammocks set up.  We visited and then ate just before dark.  Afterwards we told lies and took our cough medicine.

The next morning we hiked back up East Dark Hollow and took the Big Valley trail up to the Indian Rock Loop trail.  We hiked it counter clock wise.  When we got to the site of Peter Graves attack by Indians, I heard a big "Thump" where my Dad tripped over a root and hit head first on the biggest bolder he could find.  He is always looking for attention and I think he was teaching Travis why you never backpack alone.  He busted his forehead and nose open so we got to do a little of that first responder thing.  Luckily he does have a hard head so after getting some of his sense back, he hiked on like a true hero would.

When you drop off the side of Big Ridge, the trail goes straight down the side very steeply.  I wouldn't want to try it when it was wet!  The campsite on the Indian Rock Loop is only about a twenty foot circle.  There is another campsite on the Sharp's Station trail which also has a fire pit.  There is another plaque out at the lake's edge for Sharp's Station.

As the trail follows the edge of the lake it is covered with Raspberry thorns.  At the right time of year, you could eat your way along this trail.  After we climbed back up Big Ridge we took a break and saw two Bald Eagles fly by.  We ate some lunch here and then hiked back to Dark Hollow.

We took the West Dark Hollow trail back to the Dam.  We got to see a doe on this section and heard some more up higher on the ridge.  The campsite on this trail is bigger and there is a good water source there too.  After we crossed the Dam we climbed to the Loyston Overlook.  This trail is really not worth the climb as you really don't get any good views and probably none when there are leaves on the trees.

We got back to the car by one and the Ranger wanted to know what happened to dear old Dad.  We had to tell the story. 

We had a great hike.  The trails are in really good shape.  There are some hills that need some switch backs, but it will give you a good work out.  As for Travis, this is what he had to say for his first ever backpack:

"This being my first hike I was amazed to the tranquillity that can come over one. The hike was more than just a walk in the woods, when was the last time you were able the hear peace and quite, I mean real quite. The night came upon us with a whisper, the stars look so close you hit one with a stone and a good arm. I do not believe I have ever seen so many in the night sky. Under stand that I had to pay a price for the trip in the way of sore muscles, but I would gladly pay it again."


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mousetail Landing State Park II

Lady Finger Bluff Trail 2.7 miles                                  Outcasts Total Miles: 1352.89
Mousetail Overnight Trail 8.0 miles
Mousetail Day Loop 3.0 miles
Total Miles: 13.7 miles

Troy was out with tooth surgery.  Marco and I headed out through the rain.  We had issues with ducks and frogs, but made it through the storm with the Outcast Mobile speeding West.

By the time we got to our first hiking trail the weather had cleared.  From Interstate 40 you can follow signs all the way to Lady Finger Bluff except for the last two turns.  When the road turns to dirt, your next two turns are to the left and the trail is on the right.

Gnarled old cedars, limestone outcrops, fresh water springs and spectacular views of the Tennessee River make up the views of Lady's Bluff, a TVA Small Wild Area.  They have markers on the different trees that have the names of the trees on them.  We had to laugh at the one with the stump next to it.  I guess they need to either find another tree or plant one next to the sign. 

The Tennessee River below Lady's Bluff was once known as the "narrows." As you can watch one barge stop downstream while another passes through the strait, it should be easy to see how this portion of the river got its name. Two barges cannot pass through here as they can in other stretches of the river.

There is supposed to be a loop at the end of the trail, but after the bluff it just kinda fades out.  So we turned around and headed back.  There is a tree up there with two plaques on it from people that have climbed the bluff.

The next hike was to be at Mousetail Landing State Park.  We tried to take the short cut down McKnight road, but the slab was too deep for even the Outcast Mobile to cross.  We had to go back to 438 to get to the park.  There are no signs for Mousetail from Interstate 40 to the park.  Google shows it in Linden when it  is actually on the Tennessee River.

We packed up and headed out on the eight mile overnight trail.  We kicked up some deer and one other hiker with his dog.  We had stopped for a snake when he walked up to us.  We visited with him a while exchanging stories before heading to our shelter #2 for the night.  The last time I was here we got to see nothing but fog.  This time there is a great view of the river from the shelter .  We collected firewood and then got food going.  It was going to get down right cold tonight so we got lots of wood.

Later that night we got to hear owls and coyotes carrying on.  We saw a Coast Guard ship and barges going down the river.  Even got to listen to a couple through the night.

The next morning we got up to fog.  It was burning off as the sun came up and we got on the trail.  We completed the loop going past shelter #1 and headed back to the car.  On the way we passed our second hiker and visited with him.  He was prepping to hike the Appalachian Trail next year.  We were swapping stories with him when a Bald Eagle flew by.  Now that is exciting!

After we got to the car we headed out on the Day Loop trail behind the office.  It goes up and follows two ridges with access to the campground and picnic pavilion area.  We kicked some deer here as well.

Back to the car and off to Waffle House!  We will rate all these trails as moderate because of the ups and downs.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Long Hunter VII

Long Hunter                             Trail Rating                          Outcasts Total: 1339.19 Miles 
Volunteer Trail     6.0 Miles       Easy
Day Loop            2.0Miles        Easy
Volunteer Trail     6.0Miles        Easy
Total                14.0 Miles

The season has officially started.  Troy, Marco, and I headed out to Long Hunter State Park for an overnight hike.  This starts our seventh year of hiking together.  After seven years of hiking this trail, we got off trail for the first time and we did it going and coming back.  How did we manage this I do not know.  I do know that I am glad we didn't hike off a cliff because we would have all hiked off it.  Following each other and not paying attention to the trail.....basics!  We were busy talking and getting caught up on things.

The weather was great and the colors were in mid changing.  We enjoyed the views of the lake and the easy rolling hills of the trail.  There were lots of boats out and we did see a couple of hikers. 

After we got to camp we saw a crow chasing a hawk over the lake.  We set up camp and got to work. The fire pits were large piles of ashes as usual and there was no wood to be seen. We headed out through the woods to collected our usual stack of wood for a winter fire and got a fire going that you couldn't sit by if you had to. Life was good.  The wind was blowing a little to cool with the water temperature to do any swiming, but I did get to soak the feet a while.

For dinner we got to try out some other dehydrated meals that Troy brought along to test.  At sunset we hiked out to the end of the cove and got some great pictures.  We sat around the fire telling lies and taking cought medicine until we faded out one by one.  We got to hear an owl in the night talking.

We took an easy morning and then hiked out.  Troy who was suffering from an impacted tooth, was now suffering from a sinus infection.  When we got to the day loop that we usually take, we just hiked on out.

Another great hike and new beginning. 


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Natchez Trace- Red Leaves Trail

Red Leaves Trail Lower Loop 26.35miles...........Outcast Total:1325.19 Miles

Well we headed out for a four day hike. When we got there, we were informed that the whole North end of the park was being Logged off due to storm damage. The trail was closed. So plan B was to hike what they did have and a long story short it turned out to be an overnight backpack.

Marco, Troy, and I headed out for the last scheduled hike of the season. It was hot and the ticks were out in force. Basically everytime you stopped, you pulled off ticks. We had hiked this trail four years ago and not much had changed. They did mark the trail alot better. It's rolling hills and you get to see three different lakes. They have a campsite on two of the lakes and we stayed on Pin Oak lake.

We got to do some swiming as the lake was warm. We got to see turtles, snakes, and a mess of wild flowers. It is a great park to hike in and we hope they get the North end opened soon.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Falls Creek Falls - Upper Loop Trail

Fall Creek Falls....Trail Rating....Outcasts Total: 1298.84 Miles
Upper Loop Overnight Trail 13.0 Miles.....Easy

Troy and I headed out to test his knee injury. We decided to do an easier trail just to make sure all is well. He is hiking again.

We got our permit and headed to the trailhead. It was a beautiful day for hiking. We were grabbing our gear and Troy reached into the trunk and pulled out two Kroger sacks full of the famous Troy fried chicken. It's going to be a GREAT hike!! (Yes, I did cry, but it was beautiful!)

When we took our first break, Troy pulled a tick off his pant leg. Then he pulled a tick of his pant leg, then........... wow, really? He pulled at least five off while I started the search on myself. Yes, it is tick time in Tennessee! Lora had told me on the way, Don't forget the bug spray.....it's still in the car.

When we got down to the river, we noticed that there was a water line in the trees about thirty feet up from the river level. There was danger tape in the trees. The swinging bridge did not look too good and when we got to the other side we found that the foundation holding the bridge up was pulled out of the ground. It was obvious that they had a MAJOR flood sometime not long ago.

We made it to camp, set up, gathered wood, got water, ate,.........still light. talked, visited, had two day hikers go by, explored,......still light. Finally, it got dark enough to start the fire. We had stars out, cough medicine, all is good. Troy broke out a crunchy candy bar and gave me half. I told him that I forgot to look for the Carmel filled ones that he has brought in the past. They sure are good.

Troy tried the hammock. This was his first attempt and I had forgotten all the things you go through. I have been using the hammock for alot of years. I tried to give all the information that I could think of. Then he was on his own. The battle began. I know that he got in. After that I went to sleep. Well, I guess he battled and battled. He told me that at one point, he was on the ground wrapped in bug netting looking up at his hammock. If he had zipped up his netting, he would have had to call me to get him out. I have done alot of things, but never got in that position.

In the morning he got me crying telling me the adventure. He just naturally assumed that I would have shown up taking pictures. I slept through it all. As I was eating breakfast, Troy pulls out a pound of bacon and said here you go. Well, OK. This was a first. We got a stick out and cooked over the fire. Life is good!

We packed up and headed out. Another good day for hiking. We stopped for our lunch break and Troy pulls out a Carmel filled chocolate bar. Wow, this man is good!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Savage Gulf Natural Area

Savage Day Loop to North Plateau Trail 2.2..Outcast Total Miles: 1285.84
North Plateau to Mountain Oak Trail 1.2
Mountain Oak to North Rim Trail 0.8
North Rim to Hobb's Cabin 3.5
Day One: 7.7 Miles

Connector Trail 6.7
Big Creek Trail 3.1
Day Two: 9.8 Miles

Greeter Falls Trail x 2 2.8
Big Creek Rim Trail 3.2
Big Creek Gulf Trail 0.9
Connector to Saw Mill 3.2
Day Three: 10.1

Connector 0.4
Stagecoach Road Trail 1.6
South Rim Trail 5.8
Day Loop to End 1.5
Day Four: 9.3

Total Miles: 36.9

This hike was to get everyone in the group to finish hiking all the trails in the Savage Gulf. Didn't work out that way, but here we go...

Troy, Marco, and I headed out after work. We drove to the Savage Gulf ranger station to start our hike. We were going to hike five days around 50 miles. The weather was looking wet!

We had some misting rain up to sprinkles on the way to Hobbs. We passed two groups of two hikers each that had stayed at Hobbs the night before. Both said that there was fire wood at the cabin.

We got to Hobbs cabin around two o'clock. The bunks were calling our name. I took a nap and then Troy joined in. We got up and collected fire wood for the night. After a lot of thought, we decided to go ahead and stay in the cabin tonight. We sat by the fire out front taking cough medicine and telling lies. We made it a challenge to see who would spot Ranger Lightfoot before he got to camp. The ranger never showed so we were a little let down. We did hear an owl talking.


We got up in the morning and headed down the Connector trail. The rocks were wet and slippery. A definate challenge. By the time we got to the swinging bridge, Troy had made up his mind. His knees were hurting and he would call it off. When we got to the Stagecoach Road trail he headed off taking the South Rim trail to the car.

Marco and I headed on. We passed up the trail to Ranger Falls as we had both done that and it was getting late and dark with the heavy fog. It was almost a night hike by the time we got to Alum campsite. The fog was heavy and wet. We set up camp, ate, and called it a night. I got ready to lay down and asked Marco if he was still awake. All I heard was ZZZZZzzzzz.


We got up early after an early night and headed off to Greeter Falls. The falls were wonderful with all the rain. We met an older man and his grandson at the falls. The grandson was in school for photography and was taking pictures.

We hiked back to Alum campsite and then took the Big Creek Rim trail to Stone Door. There were a couple of people there. We took some pictures as the fog was actually gone from the gulf. We went down through the Stone Door down to the Connector trail.

While on the connector trail, we met a ranger that was hiking through. We asked him if he heard anything about Troy and he hadn't. We told him about all the trees down on all of the trails. He said that was what he was doing as well. We asked about Ranger Lightfoot (George) and he said that it was unlike him to not stop by camp. He told us that there were some thunderstorms coming in tonight.

We stopped at the Historic Savage Cabin on the way. Then off to Sawmill campsite. We went the 0.3 miles to the Schwoon Spring to get water. We didn't know at the time that we could collect water while sitting by the fire pit in the morning. This spring is actually uphill in a cave. There is no telling how far down the water falls, but you are very cautious while your hanging from the rocks trying to get your water.

We went back to camp and collected fire wood. We sat by a warm fire eating our meals. After we were enjoying our cough medicine, we heard owls and coyotes talking. Then Marco said he saw a light. He though it was Ranger Lightfoot, but it was coming from the wrong direction. We both stared at the light. It looked to move up and down, but really fast and far when it did. After a while we decided that it had to be a tower off in the distance and the cough medicine wasn't helping us. It actually made my tongue go in wrong directions while talking. Marco ask me if I was buzzing? Yep, Marco I was!


Sometime in the night we woke to lighting and thunder. WOW what a show and what a downpour. In the morning, Marco came over and said this pack was soaked under his hammock. A river was running through the camp. He moved under my tarp and we ate breakfast. Water was running everywhere as we hiked out.

We had decided yesterday to hike out today. We had both done the Collins Gulf. On the Historic Stagecoach trail there were two water falls that I had not seen before. They were beautiful. Of course the trail was a creek too! We climbed up and took the South Rim trail. We stopped at on overlook where Marco turned to leave, hitting me with his backpack shoving me toward the edge. He said he was getting me back for Lora. I have done this a couple of times to her. You forget how far you stick out in the back.

Then Marco tried to take me out again at the campground spring. He had taken a picture and wanted to show me. When he step next to me, he stood on a rock and slipped. He hit the ground on his butt while hanging onto me. We both slid towards the creek. Luckily we stopped before splashdown.

We stopped for lunch when we heard the thunder. Oh no, the race was on. The storm was faster. Lighting hitting all around us, no place to take shelter. It poured and thunder crashed. We hiked on. It slowed by the time we got to Savage Falls. We found a backbone from a deer on the trail. We said that the deer probably got in Troy's way on his way out.

Overall it was a great hike. We even saw a toad, a lizard, and a horse hair worm. That is January hiking! Marco did get all his trails in.