Thursday, October 24, 2013

Frozen Head State Park

Day One: 7.5 miles                                                           Outcast Total Miles: 1460.18
Visitor / Interpretive 0.5
Old Mac 0.3
Spicewood 2.5
Chimney Top 1.0
Tower 1.0
North Old Mac 1.1
Panther Branch 1.1

Day Two: 11.4 miles
Falls 2.0
Panther Branch 1.1
North Old Mac 1.1
Lookout Tower 4.0
S. Old Mac 2.4
Old Mac 0.3
Visitor / Interpretive 0.5

Total Miles: 18.9

For our second hike of this season, we picked a new park for us.  Frozen Head State Park in Wartburg was our destination.  Travis was brave enough to join us again for this hike.  As usual between getting off of work, travel time, lunch, and getting our permit, we got on the trail around noon.

We started behind the ranger station with the Visitor trail taking it to the Interpretive trail to the Old Mac trail to start on the Spicewood trail.  A ranger came up the Old Mac trail on a bike to ask us if we were the ones that left the gear in the parking lot.  Believe it or not, it was not us!  Someone had about eleven bags of gear that they just left there.  After our visit we passed the only two people for the trip and they were just day hiking.

It was a cool morning, but it got cooler as we climbed.  Where the Spicewood trail meets the Chimney Top trail is the coldest place with a good strong wind blowing.  We stopped at the Tub Springs campsite for a break when Troy realized that he had lost his seat cushion.  So Marco and Travis went up to the lookout tower while Troy and I headed back down the trail to find the cushion.  We found it about a quarter mile past the Spicewood / Chimney Top intersection.

We all met up at the North Old Mac trailhead, swapped stories and then headed down the trail to Panther Branch trail.  We stayed the night at the Panther Branch campsite.  It was getting dark fast so it was a race to collect firewood and set up camp.  There is a large tree down at the campsite, which is the only downed tree we saw in the whole park.  The trails are very clean and in great condition.  They will also get you in great condition as you are either climbing or descending the entire time. The average elevation gain and loss per trail is 1142.5 feet.

The water level in the park is very low at this time.  We still had running water at the campsite, but not a rushing creek.  We had a good cool night in the 30's and were being sung to by the owls all night long.  Not only a lot of owls, but a good variety as well.  We sat around the fire telling lies and drinking cough medicine.

The next morning we got up and ate breakfast.  Travis and I headed out to see the falls.  We knew there wasn't much water, but both of them were flowing.  We got some pictures and then joined back up with Troy and Marco at the camp.  We headed back up to top backtracking the way we came down last night.  
We ate lunch at the Tub Springs campsite.  They wanted a picture by the Tub Springs so we went there next.  From there we were going to take the Fire Tower trail back down to the campgrounds.  We were talking and Travis asked if this was the trail and I said yes, because the Fire Tower trail is a roadbed hike.  It wasn't too long and we came to a switch back in the road which went either way.  I did not remember any such thing on this trail, but after investigating we pick a road and stuck with it.  Before long we saw a paved road.  This was not good as there is no paved roads in the park.  Pretty soon we walked down to it.  Time to check the old map out.  Yes, I had taught the men how to pay attention to where you are going as I had planned.  We were on the wrong side of the mountain.  Their punishment was to hike the two miles, 1180 feet in elevation, back up to the top of the mountain for the second time today.

It was getting late and we needed to be out of the park so we took the South Old Mac trail down the other side of the mountain.  We stopped at the park sign for our final picture on the way out and since there was no Waffle House anywhere close we stopped at Hardee's for our off the trail celebration before heading home.

Frozen Head is a great park for hiking.  It is a very clean and well kept park.  Most of the campsites do have a table.  There are some sites without water so make sure you check out which one you will be staying at.  


Friday, October 4, 2013

Long Hunter VIII

Day one: 5.9 miles...........................................Outcasts Total Miles: 1441.28 
Day two: 5.5 miles

As we start out our eighth year of hiking together we did our annual hike to Long Hunter State Park.  As we signed in at the office we saw our first three deer and a Genie.  It was good to see that our State Government is better than the Federal Government and we are still up and running.

Marco decided to use his fancy phone this year to find out exactly how far we hike here.  We have been going from the park mileage and some guessing in the past.  Basically they advertised the Volunteer trail as a six mile trail and the day loop as a four mile trail.  We estimated it at eight miles in the past one way.

We took the usual route going the lake side of the day loop to the Volunteer trail.  When we got to our break spot which is the bench at the Northern most point of the day loop trail, we met Don Haynes.  Don is an active hiker and we had a good visit with him.  Just as we got started again we found a box turtle with a hole in the top of his shell.  He was moving right along, so it took me a few pictures before I got a good shot.  I figured it was a pocket for his cell phone?

When we got to the kiosk on the Volunteer trail Marco had us at 2.4 miles.  It was looking like we were going to be a bit shorter than we thought.  We ate lunch there and then headed on.  It wasn't long before we came across a mileage sign which they have never had before.  We figured that someone else had the same idea.

We saw many more deer on the way to camp.  When we got to camp we saw the mileage sign stating 5.5 miles so they have cut the trail by .5 miles.  Marco came up with 5.9 miles of course that was with the day loop in it.  The trail was more grown over than it has been in the past and they still have not repaired the two bridges that floated away in the 2010 flood.  There are a few very large trees down too.

Campsite #1 was upgraded with three long Ceder benches on blocks and the fire pit in the middle was mortared stone.  We set up our hammocks and collected fire wood.  Soon afterwards I was swimming in the lake.  It was hot and muggy so I needed to cool off.

We had a calm night listening to the owls and coyotes.  We sat around the fire taking cough medicine and telling lies.

The next morning we hiked out going with just the Volunteer trail at 5.5 miles.  Yes, we had our Waffle House meeting afterwards.