Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mammoth Cave II

DAY ONE: 6.41                                      Outcast Total Miles: 1630.98
Pretrail: 1.25
Good Spring trail: 2.52
Collie Ridge trail: 0.53
Blair Spring Hollow trail: 1.6
Wet Prong trail: 0.51

DAY TWO: 8.4
Wet Prong trail: 3.01
Collie Ridge connector: 0.94
Good Spring trail: 2.02
Buffalo trail: 2.43

This is our second backpack at Mammoth Cave.  We started with our permit.  There was no one at the permit window, so we went down to the very last window to the only lady there.  We asked for the permit and she referred us to window number one.  I politely told her that no one was down there and she immediately told me that she would be down there in a minute.  So we walked down and waited patiently.

The lady came down and asked where we were going to stay. Back country site Raymer Hollow.  She said OK and she wanted the car description, tag, and a driver's license.  I told her the car description and looked up my picture of the tag on my phone which I proudly showed her.  She was not impressed as I had hoped and let me know that she needed my driver's license.  I told her the tag number and she told me she wanted my driver license first.  So I gave her my license and then had to look up my picture one more time.  Next she asked how we were going to get there.  I told her we were going to park at the Good Springs church and take the Raymer Hollow trail.  She told me the Raymer Hollow trail was closed.  I looked at the map and the only trail going to our campsite was that trail.  I said OK, then how can we get to that campsite? YOU CAN'T, IT'S CLOSED!  OK.  Pick another campsite (NOW)!  All the other campsites are available. That really surprised me.  Highs were going to be in the 20's lows in the teens and no body else was out camping? The pressure was on now, I was taking up her time and had to re plan our entire trip.  I looked at the map and slung out the next campsite I saw "Ferguson".  OK, how are you going to get there?  Ahhh, Marco start adding up miles!  I am waiting......I started sweating on the brow.....Well we will start at the church. YOU CANNOT PARK AT THE CHURCH!  Well yes I can, I parked there last time and took these trails.  YOU CANNOT PARK AT THE CHURCH AND THERE ARE NO TRAILS THERE!  Ahhhh, they were there last time.  THEY REMOVED THOSE TRAILS AND ADDED BIKE TRAILS SOMEWHERE ELSE!  Ahhhh OK, we will park at the Maple Springs trailhead and take this trail on your map.  YOU CANNOT TAKE THAT TRAIL!  YOU WILL ROAD WALK. Ahhhhhhh, OK! She printed off our permit.  You put this on the drivers side dash face down with this emblem pointed in this direction! Yes Mam.

Needing a drink very badly, we headed to her parking spot.  Deer were everywhere.  Not that they were used to people, but Troy had to get out and take the deer by the ear and walked them out of the road so we could drive on.  We got to the ferry and took it across the Green river.  We proceeded to the Maple Springs Trailhead parking.

OK, Marco had the brochure on back county camping.  I downloaded the map from the brochure on back county camping off the computer.  They are both different.  Even the miles for the length of the trails were different.  The map our dear lady had was different than both of ours.  Every time I had picked up her map she snatched it back out of my hands like it was the only one on the face of the earth.  Her map showed a trail from the parking spot that went up to the Good Springs trail. There on the kiosk was the only other copy of the map that she had.  It also had a notice on it that there are maps available at the trailheads and the information center.  Ya, right!  Anyways, we didn't road walk just to spite her.  We hiked the graveled trail to our trailhead.

As soon as we got on the trails, we were glad for cold weather.  These are all horse trails and dug up mud.  I would highly suggest you don't hike these trails in wet weather!  It did make it a little more challenging.  We did see more deer as we hiked and these deer, after watching you for a while, did run off.  The only water crossing we couldn't rock hop was Wet Prong which Troy built a bridge with an old log.

Marco was talking about his camping trailer and Troy was asking about the shower in it.  I explained that no one really uses the showers in campers.  Dad and Mom had one all of our growing up years and we never used it.  I was telling them about when we first moved to Florida and we were living in a guys cow field until we got a house to live in.  Each Saturday when we got a shower, Dad would hold a water hose out in the field and we would have to run under it, go get soaped up, and then run through it again.........Hey, now I know why it just feels normal when hiking to get a bar of soap in the creek.  Temperature never did make any difference to us.  Troy thinks I need counseling.

Anyways, we got to camp and got all set up.  We enjoyed an evening around the fire telling lies, listening to owls and taking cough medicine.  After Troy headed off to bed, Marco and I hung out a while.  I saw something run to the base of the tree that we hung our bear bag. It climbed up a ways and then peeked around the tree at me.  I pointed it out to Marco and he watched for it.  I just knew he was going to climb out on the limb with our bag.  Then he jumped out of the tree and flew to another.  It was a flying squirrel.  I didn't think they would be out at night.

I went to my hammock and climbed in.  After I got all settled in and got quiet, I heard snoring.  Marco was already tearing it up.  Now that was fast!  I was wondering if I was going to have to get up and put Marco the rest of the way in his hammock.  I could picture him standing next to it with his face on his pillow.

The next morning Marco had the fire going for us.  We had breakfast and packed up.  The mud was frozen as it had dropped down in the low numbers last night.

All the trails were well marked.  Some of them are roadbed and the terrain is rolling hills.  Another good hike.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

TTA Backpack North Chick Segment - Cumberland trail

Day one: 5.9                                                       Outcast Total:  1616.17 Miles
Montlake Rd to Stevenson's Branch campsite

Day two: 10.79
Stevenson's Branch campsite to parking 3.33
Parking to Montlake Rd. 7.46

Total Miles: 16.69

Murfreesboro TTA members Sara, Marco, Wayne, and I with Lora and Chuck from Soddy Daisy TTA, did an overnighter on the North Chickamauga Segment of the Cumberland Trail.  The young lady that picked this section from Memphis could not make it because she got "bit by a owl"?  Had "knee problems" or whatever reason, anyway we missed her company.

We met at the Montlake road trailhead and headed in taking the Hog skin lower loop after we got Chucks keys out of his car.  By the time we made it to the overlook past the stairs, we were ready for lunch.  The next section was old road bed that was covered with blow downs.  The real challenge starts at the cable crossing.

At the cable crossing, a tree was down in the middle of the creek on the cable.  Chuck went across first and whipped out a saw that would make a young girl blush.  He quickly cut limbs to make a safer crossing.  The cable is actually broke on the far side, being held in place by where the tree had grown around the cable.  It was a wet crossing for some and and an old fashion foot washing for the rest.

After the crossing there is another cable to help you get down to the ladder.  The cable came up and hit Marco's pack just right to completely empty one of his packs' pockets.  The stove and other contents went rolling down the hill.  The stand for his stove fell off the edge and was rescued by Chuck.

From the ladder down to Chickamauga creek was steep and slippery.  Everyone was excited to see the campsite and then quickly disappointed when I notified them that this was not the campsite we were staying at.  I think there was a competition between Sara and Wayne to see who could see the most worms as they both spent lots of time on the ground looking?

After we got to Stevenson's Branch campsite, we set up camp and collected firewood.  We spent a little time inspecting each others camping gear and then we sat around the campfire eating dinner.  The night was spent telling lies and taking cough medicine.

The next morning Wayne volunteered to watch camp while the rest of us did a day hike to the far end of the trail.  After a good old fashion foot washing in Stevenson's branch we did the switch backs up the side of the gorge.  We were very impressed with the trail work and design on this part of the trail.  Probably the best switch backs on the Cumberland trail.  We took a break at the overlook and then went to the parking area.

We got to see Panther Branch falls which had good water at it.  On the way back we stopped at the overlook again and ate our lunch.  We got back to camp where Wayne was glad we made it back.  We packed up and headed out.  Chuck went ahead and cleaned up a lot of the wind falls we had to climb over on the way in.  Sara and Wayne continued their competition as we went.  Marco got the award for the best fall as he was doing the cable crossing.  He got extra points for water coverage.  We saw a few hikers and trail runners on the way out.

Our wildlife consisted of a Bald Eagle and a mouse that ate Wayne's walking stick strap.

Great hike with some great people!