Monday, March 12, 2012

Black Mountain Ride & Hike

Halbeard Yellow Violet

Yellow violet blooming near Saw Mill Falls

Black Mountain Area Four-Wheeling and Hiking

Dana & Kenny Koogler
Saturday March 10, 2012

35 miles total riding
2.5 miles total hiking
Pictures are here:

     Kenny & I went riding to Black Mountain as we'd hoped to do for weeks now.  I knew it would be a good time to see the waterfalls after a night's rain.  The ground is absolutely saturated.  The last time we went we got fouled up and did not see Basin Falls or Basin Rock. I hoped today would be better and we'd find it.

    We stopped off first by Ozone Falls on the way.  I had lost my video footage of Ozone Falls and was wanting to do that over.  It never fails to be a pleasure to visit.  It was roaring today and we did not encounter too much of a crowd there in this popular place.  We only saw half dozen people the entire time we were there.

     We did not tarry long since we've made many visits here before, but moved on.
We arrived at the trail head to ride and found six other vehicles here!  Everyone had the same idea.  Everyone was tickled for pretty weather to get outside and go four-wheeling.  Even with all the folks we saw and vehicles at the trail head, we were the only ones at the waterfalls!  We had the place to ourselves.  The area has thousands of acres for riding so we passed a few groups of riders. We stopped and spoke to many nice people, but for the biggest part we were on our own.

     We visited Basin Rock, Basin Falls from both sides of the gorge, and Saw Mill Falls. They were all so pretty.  It was nice to just be together.   I saw one yellow violet blooming.  I saw blooms of yellowroot shrub and that was about it for wildflowers.  The forest was beautiful and dark where the hemlock trees grow.
We are losing them in so many places that it is a special treat to be where they are thriving! It was good to get some exercise and climb around on the big boulders.  Making your way to Saw Mill Falls involves jumping from boulder to boulder. I took photos of jumping across those huge boulders with deep crevices all the way down to the ground. The photos never show how eerie it is. Either that or I'm being a big baby!

      We explored new trails we'd never seen before.  Each visit turns up something new and different.    We stopped and ate lunch in the lush green woods by a stream.    We continued on and made a big loop of our ride.

 I wanted to see some of the dramatic and rocky trails we'd visited before when we had our Grizzly.  We went down Alloway Road to the bridge and headed toward Black Mountain Summit.  It was rocky, challenging and fun!  The trails and the stream were one and the same in most places!  The rhino handled these challenging trails far better than the old Mo-Sheen.  I was really tickled.

     We made it up to Black Mountain Summit for the view. We parked and hiked the Black Mountain Crest loop trail.  We enjoyed the view for a time ,but as it was getting late in the day and we had to make the trip back we did not linger long.
The view over Grassy Cove was clear and beautiful under deep blue skies.
We passed a few people hiking the Cumberland Trail.
 We left to ride back to the truck taking some shortcuts Kenny knew of.
That made the trip not only shorter but varied the route.  I did not miss jarring down those bumpy, rocky paths the entire time.

      I dreamed of Spring wildflowers returning to Black Mountain. I hope I can get over there one day all by myself to spend as much time as I want enjoying them.
Tremendous variety of Spring flowers can be found at Black Mountain along with numerous hiking options.

       It was good to get back to the truck and head home.  Everyone else was as well.  They were packing up and leaving.  What a good day to get out and enjoy nature!

Healthy hemlock forest with sun filtering down through the canopy.

Basin Falls is down in a gorge at the edge of Basin Rock. It is about 40 ft high.

Saw Mill Falls in the early morning light.

  The summit of Black Mountain is carved with wind and water into some amazing shapes and textures!

View out over Grassy Cove from Black Mountain Summit

Friday, March 9, 2012

Indian Flats Falls

Spring Beauties were still out at this pull off Claytonia virginica Portulacaceae GSMNP NC 5/8/09
Spring Beauty
Claytonia virginica

Indian Flats Falls Day Hike

Thursday March 8, 2012
Dana Koogler
7.5 miles round trip mileage

**This is one of a batch of repaired blogs**
Missing photo originals replaced with videos.

I woke Thursday feeling froggy and decided to hike up to see Indian Flats Falls.
It is a moderate hike with plenty to see along the way.  It gets a little monotonous in that I've hiked it numerous times for one reason or another, but I've only been to see those falls
twice before.  It has been five years since the last time I was there. 
Last time I was backpacking to Derrick Knob and did not have as much time to visit the falls as I would have liked since I still had 4 or five miles to cover to get there.

Today I was in lolligag mode so I had plenty of time to visit the falls and explore and take pictures and videos.  I got an early start. I was the only one there and never saw another soul until I got back  in the vicinity of the intersection with Panther Creek Trail.

It was beautiful!  Another glorious early Spring day with sunshine, blue skies and warm temperatures.    A few spring beauties were out along the trail, but it will be awhile before the flowers are out real good.    I encountered numerous members of the Happy Hikers club on my way out. I struck up a conversation with Bob Vineyard and we hiked all the way out together.  He is an interesting fellow. 
Lynn Camp Prong Cascade
Lynn Camp Prong Falls 

Indian Flats Falls--1st Drop

Indian Flats Falls --#2 Drop

Indian Flats Falls --#3 Drop

Rainbow Falls Hike

Rainbow Falls Hike
Dana Koogler solo
Wednesday March 7, 2012
5.4 miles round trip

    I had not hiked to Rainbow Falls in about eight years. I had visited the falls twice before.
Once with my husband about 15 years ago.  Once with my friend Craig while hiking to the summit of Mt. LeConte.  Rainbow Falls trail is one of the routes up and down the slopes of Mt. LeConte.
I determined since we'd had plenty of rainfall lately and in view of the fact it had been so long between visits I'd make the trip up this week.

            I found the hike up to be easier than I recalled.  It only took me 1 hr 40 minutes to arrive at the falls.  I had expected since it is steep, rocky and almost all uphill that it would take about 2 1/2 hours.   Rainbow Falls is 65 feet high and a true waterfall.  It is a very popular hike so getting an early start made finding parking easy and there were not many people on the trail. Upon arriving mine was the fourth vehicle in the lot.  I only encountered one set of hikers heading in.  On they way out I met about twenty people heading up the mountain.  The parking lot was full. 

        The falls was very pretty. Rainbow Falls will never be a favorite hike. The trail is so heavily used that the ground is eroded and many folks have "cut trail".  They've made shortcuts that have furthered the problem of erosion.  There were a few scattered wildflowers emerging which was nice.
The skies were blue with puffy white clouds. The temperature was a mild 60 degrees.  The air smelled fresh.   It was a great day to get out and stretch my legs. It was also nice to realize that I was not in as bad a shape fitness wise as I had imagined.  I had forgotten about a couple nice cascades that appear along the hike before the falls.

Rainbow Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN Located on the slopes of Mt. LeConte

Rainbow Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN
Below is a video clip of Rainbow Falls.