Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Indian Boundary Camping Trip

Dragonfly along the road.

Indian Boundary Camping Trip

Dana & Kenny Koogler
Friday July 27- Sunday July 29, 2012

Pictures are here:

Indian Boundary Camping Trip Pictures

**This is a repaired blog entry with one photo missing
and  the video added at the bottom**

      I  had wanted to get down to Indian Boundary to camp again and I had no trouble talking Kenny into it. It is such a beautiful place to camp, but it is very popular. I managed to get us reservations for the weekend we wanted. Kenny lucked out and got done with work at half day on Friday so we were able to get our trip started sooner.  We were able to set up camp and fix dinner very leisurely. We had time to get out and take a nice walk with the dog around the lake.  It was cooling down in the evening and the sun was setting. 
Our camp site was very neat and shady.  I found lots of orchids blooming around the lake!  It was beautiful and an unexpected find so that made it special.

     We slept well and go our day going on Saturday.  We had lots of waterfalls we wanted to hunt up.   The first one bombed out seeing as how it turned out to be on private property.
We did get to see the Tellico Round House which was very cool.  Doc Rogers tried to turn this into a hotel, but the fire marshal shut him down.  He and his wife lived in it for the last six years of his life.

Tellico Round House 
tellico roundhouse

Day lily along dirt road near Tellico Round House.

  daylily tellico plains
The second batch  of three waterfalls also flopped since they are across the big river.  They would need  a lot of rain to be worth seeing and this was not the case today.  We'll work on those another time after plenty of rain.   I think I have found a way to reach the first of them by land and if there is a way to creep up the river bank to the next ones further up stream then we can see all of those.  I still say I need a harpoon gun to shoot an arrow across rivers into a tree to make a Tyrolean traverse possible. :-D

     We opted to explore North River which was perfect.   It has lots of peaceful pools, cascades and small falls along it.  It was something we'd always wanted to do and finally had the chance today.   I jumped in at one particularly good falls where there was a deep pool and went skinny dipping. I did not plan on it, but I did not bring a change of clothes and I did not want to get Kenny's beautiful new truck wet.
The falls was mossy and green and the water was cool and refreshing.  The water was deep enough here to actually swim around and not touch bottom. I swam all around.  Obey got in and went swimming also.   I could swim toward the falls and the current kept me pushed back.  I took my time and stayed in long as I wanted. I got out and Kenny had sweetly brought me a towel to dry off.  It was very relaxing.
unnamed falls north river
Small Waterfall on North River with a great swimming hole. It's also good for skinny dipping, but it is right by the road so don't do it if you're shy! 

     We continued up the road to the next falls which was known.  We had directions in the guidebook and Tom's Tennessee Land forms GPS coordinates.   We found it and it was a pretty nine foot waterfall.  No good swimming hole here though.  We checked it out and since it was nearly one in the afternoon we ate lunch here on the tail gate of the truck.
It was exactly what I had wanted. I love dirt roads, quiet places and exploring them with Kenny.   I've been dragging around on old dirt roads for my whole life. I grew up with one paved road and one dirt road by my house. I have dirt road withdrawals if I stay away too long.    The forest here was quiet and beautiful.   Cardinal flower bloomed with its red spikes showing here and there.  Spotted jewelweed was along the road and creeks in many places.  Pale jewelweed was another common flower.

     We followed the road upward.  Just wanting to see where it came out. We knew we'd want to go by Whigg Meadow up near the top and this road should take us in that direction.    I looked down over the bank and saw a silvery white ribbon in the forest below. The cry of "Waterfall!" went up and we backed the truck to a stopping place and quickly gathered our stuff to go check it out.   We got down there and it was a nice 25 foot waterfall with an amazing amount of water for a headwaters stream!   Above it was a series of ledge cascades and a nice 8 foot waterfall capping it off.   We explored the woods and the stream and hugged and kissed and cheered at our discovery!   It was not listed in any guidebook. It was not on Tennessee Landforms! New to us!  New to add to the collection!
Obey was so excited he did the bear dance. He races around in the woods and barked and growled and bowed his tail up and set his hackles.  He is funny!  We both want to come back to see this falls during a time of significant rain fall.  It is gushing in a dry time!



Nice 25 footer gushing on North River

Meadow Branch Falls sycamore creek area
      We climbed back up the bank and got something cold to drink.  Obey had been drinking creek water and swimming again so he was ready for a nap. He piled in the back of the truck and in no time he was snoring.   We continued up the road seeing beautiful forests and Summer wildflowers.  We saw very few people or vehicles.   The folks we did encounter were all peaceful and in good spirits. 
Lots of crimson bee balm, purple phlox and greenheaded cone flowers in bloom.
Driving up further and further toward Whigg Meadow one may notice a strange phenomenon.   I got the sense of being squashed from a visual perspective.  The trees at high elevations often get stunted and it is really noticeable when driving. I notice it when hiking, but today it was pronounced and very odd!  All the trees suddenly became squat and lowered.   The vegetation and fo
rest type changes to mostly beech and birch.   

       We arrived at the trail head for Whigg Meadow.   We have hiked here before via Mud Gap.   It is a pretty hike from any direction or you may drive up here and hike across.  

Whigg Meadow is an open, grassy bald.  It is kept that way through man's intervention.  Grandstand views from up here!
view whigg meadow

Path of Thorns.... The way down to the beautiful spring fed pond just below Whigg Meadow. I did not think  Kenny was  going to walk down there with me, but he cowboy-ed up and did it. He doesn't know that he's married to ole Briar Rose herself! wall of thorns whigg meadow

Spring fed pond below the Whigg.  It is worth fighting the briars to get down here. If you're camping on the meadow it is your water source so you've gotta face the weeds and briars at some point! The spring is on the far side of the pond.
pond whigg meadow     Spring fed pond at Whigg Meadow. 

We hiked back up the hill and across the meadow.  Kenny showed me where a bear had dug up a bees nest.  The yellow jackets were still coming out of the ground so we adjusted course to avoid them.   Yellow jackets nests in the trail are something else to watch out for when hiking in Summer time.  I forgot to tell that on the way across the meadow my too big shorts were leaving me. I did not want to admit I had not thrown them out as I promised.  I put my bandana through the front two belt loops and tied it tight keeping my britches up.  It looked hellish though so I put  my shirt down over it.  Still looked bad, but we were almost ready to go back to camp.  I got tickled and had one of those really good fits of laughter that will near bout make ya pee yourself and always makes ya weak.  I was fighting through one of those fits when Kenny turned round and figured out what I'd done.  He got to laughing with me.  We're two well matched idiots. I DID throw the shorts out when I got back to the camper. I knew if I kept them I'd do it again.
Undisciplined as I am.   They fit fine when they came out of the dryer!

      We drove back to the camper and rested.  Kenny took a nap. I read and took a shower.  I prepared a nice dinner for us. Baked potatoes, grilled bacon wrapped filets,  green beans and sliced watermelon. Yummy!   We sat outside and relaxed.
We drove around to the  beach to watch the sun set. 

gloaming over indian boundary lake
The Gloaming at Indian Boundary.

      We watched Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and went to bed. I was very tired.   I still didn't rest well.  I woke up dreaming and upset numerous times.
Our son-in-law, Adam was deploying on Monday.  I could not get that off my mind.
It kept me up a good part of the night.  Morning came with a black cloud hanging over me.   A feeling I never did shake.  I was not handling it well. 

    We ate breakfast and headed out to Citico to try to hunt up another waterfall.
Turned out that Cold Springs Road is closed due to numerous downed trees. Frustrating, but funny.  We by-passed the road block and went on anyhow.
We managed to get under the first mass of trees across the road.   We saw where someone else had done the same and started sawing up logs and moving them.
Then just around the bend out of sight....... too many trees down across the road to count!  Ugh!   What a beotch!  Fek it. I ain't able to saw and move that many trees or logs!  We started laughing and said aw screw it and just turned around heading out of there.   

Lumber Jack Hell!**Photo lost of logs down over the road here**

     We headed back to Double Camp to see the cascades and hike Crowder Branch Trail.   We did stop to see the cascades and they were pretty.
We found Crowder Branch Trail head and hiked that.  I still was not in the proper frame of mind.   I was fighting it.  Kenny could tell something was wrong with me.
I was growing sadder.   I did not enjoy the hike.  I did see some pretty forest and found some club spur orchids.  That was nice.  Obey dug up a yellow jackets nest and had his first experience with bees.  A lesson learning time. I raked the yellow jackets off his butt and squashed them into the dirt.  We ran like crazy to get distance between us and the disturbed nest.  

         We got in the creek and soaked to cool off.   We drove back to camp.
Citico Creek was very pretty with lots of people fishing and swimming and camping. 

Crowder Branch Trail is beautiful.

Double Camp Cascade

     Back at camp I tried to eat lunch, but finally admitted to Kenny I was struggling emotionally and just wanted to go home.  I did not care about anything else.  I wanted to see Adam, Crystal and Michael.  I went to the bathroom to have my melt down. I finally pulled it together enough to eat lunch and pack to go home.
Kenny hugged on me and comforted me.  He told me he could see that coming.  I was trying to stay busy to deny it, but that never works. 

        We packed and headed home to see our kids and spend time with them.
I hate to say it, but I'll be glad when this is over.  All I can do is pray and trust.
That will have to be enough.

Hawk Soaring. I need the hawk's eye view of the current situation.
hawk soaring

“Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south? / Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? / She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place.” ~~Job 39: 26-28

Below is a video that is short clips of various waterfalls along North River.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Little River Trail to Goshen Prong Cascades

Little River Trail to Goshen Prong Cascades

Dana Koogler solo
10.6 miles round trip
Thursday July 12, 2012

Pictures are here:

Goshen Prong Hike Pix

Videos are here:
Goshen Prong Cascade

     I had a bad experience with trying to take Obey hiking this particular week.  I wanted to take him with me hiking to the woods and figured he'd be all about it.  Instead he ate my seat belt in the jeep and was a general pain.   I decided to go to the Smokies which I often don't because he is not welcome there.  I was put out with his behavior so he was not welcome to come along with me anyhow.  I took a notion I wanted to hike Little River Trail up to Goshen Prong Cascades.  I had this vague feeling that I had perhaps bitten off more than I could chew hiking distance wise, but I ignored it.  I had done it before and it was fine. I hiked it then in ninety-five degree weather. I'd done it before in Autumn so I knew I'd be ok.

       I wanted to see how bad the trails were damaged after the huge wind storm July 5th, 2012.    I got an early start so I didn't see anyone on the trail except a ranger on the way in.   I talked to him about the trail conditions and he said that the Little River Trail was in fine shape. He went on to say that Goshen Prong while closed to use was worst from CS 23 up to the Appalachian Trail.  I told him I planned to hike up Goshen Prong Trail just as far as the cascades and double back. 

     It seemed like no time at all and I was already at Huskey Branch Cascade.
It was gushing today and the swimming hole in the river below it was beautiful.

Huskey Branch Cascade flows beneath a bridge and into Little River.

Swimming Hole in Little River @ Huskey Branch Cascade

Little River in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

Goshen Prong --one of a series of low sliding cascades

Trail damage along Goshen Prong Trail

I continued on up the trail and finally arrived at the junction with Goshen Prong Trail.  I sat down and ate my lunch and rested.  I continued down this trail and started seeing downed trees just before the metal "Goshen Gate Bridge".  Nothing too bad. Easy to step through or around thus far.  I saw some turks cap lilies also.
Pale jewelweed bloomed along the trail.  It was not long til I started seeing an increase in the amount and scope of trail damage.  Downed trees were everywhere and the further into the back country I went the worse it grew.

   At one point the downed trees were almost entirely covering the stream.
It made me feel a little sad since this is one of my favorite trails.   I hoped the cascades would not be completely clogged with trees?  

Goshen Gate Bridge-- All hikers in this area should be VERY glad for this bridge. Goshen Prong is not a stream crossing to be trifled with.  It is a wide, deep stream that would be dangerous to cross when the water is up.
Goshen Prong Trail--I never saw another soul on this trail today.

Goshen Prong Cascades--there are several along this trail. Ledge type cascades. The last one is heading up to the A.T. past the campsite. 

Turks Cap Lily along Goshen Prong Trail.

Goshen Prong

    I struggled my way through the downed trees and made it to the cascades.
I was able to take photos and video of them, but there were a couple downed trees in the way.   Not as bad as it could have been, but still torn up.
It is going to be a long time until this mess is cleared and this trail and campsite are reopened is my opinion.    It gave me a slightly bad vibe. I didn't tarry long.
I turned and headed back. I knew what was facing me in dealing with the trees again and the long hike back out.  

     I saw lots of folks on my way out. I ran into Ranger Kim DeLozier who surprised me that he remembered me from a previous meeting.   We all got rained on seriously!  It rained on my way back out and how. I put on my rain jacket. I did not bring the rain pants as it was warm.  I found that my rain coat turned into a funnel sending all the water to my crotch.  I tuned out the discomfort and continued on.
I remembered that I had a dry change of clothes in the jeep.  I had fresh dry clothes and shoes. I had snacks and cold drinks for the ride home. I could hang on til then.  The sun came out and started drying things off a little bit before I made it back to the jeep.   I was tired, stinky, muddy, bark and leaves in my hair which now looked like a Gorgon.  Blonde snakes! Every piece of hair has a mind of its own. 

      I got back to the jeep and found the parking area polluted with people.
I opened that vehicle up. Stowed my gear.  Got out my dry clothes. Shucked off the wet, dirty ones. Threw them in the back. I stood there butt nekkid with that wild wooly head and gave everyone around me a HARD LOOK daring them to say a word.  I put on my dry duds and sighed.  I climbed in and ate a snack. I drank a cold drink.  I drove home listening to some excellent tunes.  Sometimes it pays to be "Nell".  Tay hey in da wi-hin! 

Looking downstream on Goshen Prong with downed trees in the stream. 

Alarka Laurel Wildflower and Waterfall Hike Summer 2012

Thimbleweed at Pigpen Flats

Alarka Laurel Red Spruce Bog Hike

Dana Koogler solo 

4 miles round trip approx.

Tuesday July 17, 2012

Pictures are here beginning with frame 257

Alarka Photos

Here is a collection of the new photos added on to ALL the other
photos from previous trips over the years.  Starts with the newest stuff.

Videos are here:
Alarka Falls Video
Going for a ride on the buckwild side with the hillbilly gal

The wildflowers for the 2012 season have all been running about a month ahead of schedule even in the higher elevations.  I decided that while it was only the first half of July it would be a good time for me to go check the status of the Yellow Fringed Orchids at Alarka.   I always enjoy a hike there any time of year.  I've hiked it every season but Winter. I would like to hike there in the snow sometime.   I knew turks cap lilies were blooming and I'd see something pretty. I was not disappointed at all.  The orchids are just getting started, but I did see some open.  I figured I'd rather make a return trip in a week or so than miss it altogether.  Long drive.  Moderate hike.  Beautiful scenery.

     I find myself walking with the spirit of Walton Smith when there.  I thank God for creating this beautiful place and I thank him for sending Walton to tend it and protect it.
I hope Walton was a Christian man and is in Heaven now so I will meet him one day.
I love having this place to myself and seeing all the gorgeous scenery, wildflowers, and creatures.  I get out in the fields and woods and wade right in surrounded by it all.
I had butterflies and hawkmoths and bees swooping around me and landing on me.
It was like a blessing from above.  I saw turkeys, deer, hummingbirds, a pheasant, a red eft and numerous butterfly species and several clearwing hawkmoths.  I did not see any bears or snakes today nor any foxes. I saw a gray fox here once before!  I love those.

      I always find myself overcome with the  beauty and the spirit of the place.
It never fails to bring a tear of joy to my eyes no matter how many times I come here.
I drove up to Cowee Bald. I ate a gourmet lunch. I played in the creek. I went four-wheelin in the mud. I rambled at my own pace.  I headed back to the falls through a solitary forest quiet and soft as a cathedral.   I could hear the stream roaring far before I got there.  I'd only seen more water coming over those falls one other time.   My trip and efforts were rewarded.    The forest smelled fresh and clean and it thrilled me that it always smells this way here in Summer.  Good enough to eat. Good enough to bottle and wear.  No other place is like this. It is my favorite of all time. 


Alarka Laurel  in the Nantahala National Forest, NC

Great Spangled Frittilary on Turks Cap Lilies

Alarka Falls in its upper reaches. It is about 200 feet high total.  It cannot be viewed in its entirety due to its size!
Clearwing Hawk Moth and wild bergamot @ Pigpen Flats Meadow  Alarka Laurel NC
Hemaris thysbe.. a clearwing hummingbird hawkmoth.  I saw several of this little creatures. They are amazingly like a hummingbird! They look and act like the blending of a hummingbird and a butterfly!
Carolina lily  Alarka NC

Carolina lily only 6 inches high. I was down on my belly to take this photo. To tell the difference you turn up the face of the lily and look for the absence of the green center star. Turks caps have it. Carolina lilies do NOT have the green star, but are creamy white in their center.

Platanthera ciliaris the Yellow Fringed Orchid. This one has not fully opened as you can see by the closed top buds.
Bog Pond with asters
Bog Pond. This quiet little pond was hopping with frogs today and buzzing with dragonflies and damselflies.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Woo Hoo Holler Weekend

   Fireworks in Woo Hoo for the 4th of July.

Woo Hoo Holler Weekend

Dana & Kenny Koogler
Sharon, John, Brenda, Brett, Tabitha
Friday June 29 -Monday July 2, 2012

Pictures are here:


Video below:
Snake Handlin' in Woo Hoo Holler

     We had planned for months to get together with our friends in Fentress County, TN for July 4th weekend.  Sharon and John's place she dubbed Woo Hoo Holler.  It is very fitting and such a beautiful place.  The best part though is the company with the scenery and remoteness of the place being a close second.  Sometimes a portion of my life is too personal, too important to write about.  This is one of those times.  I think its a combination of things mattering too much to me and being too intimate and intangible for me to adequately express. There are  no words to capture every thing I felt and did or that took place.   I'll post a few of the photos and let that be enough. 

     Suffice it to say that this was a weekend that will live in my heart and mind forever.
I still miss Ed Choate as we all do. No one more than Brenda.  I can still see his smile and hear his laugh.   I know that as much as we miss him he still loves us. We'll see him again in Heaven. For all the fun we are having he is having more fun in Heaven with all those who have gone before in the presence of our Lord.  He was a catalyst for bringing us all together.   I decided a long time ago I was not asking my Father God for enough of his blessings in my life and that I needed to ask for A LOT.  He answered by sending these friends into my life and the life of my family.  The windows of the Blessing Store House burst open wide! . The scripture below tells what happens when you ask for plenty of it!
Thank you Heavenly Father for your blessings & goodness in my life!

Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap . . .  – Luke 6:38


Rainbow Cave in Overton County, TN  Kenny and I visited here and the cave is pretty, but dry. No waterfall today. We are planning to come back during a time of heavy rain and see this and some other caves and falls in the area.

Green Pond Arch with Kenny looking out.

Lower entrance to Xanadu Cave. We crawled back in there so far we could see only darkness!

Tiger Lily with butterflies.

Dana & Sharon swimming in Caribbean Blue Water.Can't touch bottom. Have to jump in off the bank. Spring fed water hole. Cold! 65 degrees!

Another great swimming hole with two rope swings! We wore them out!

Kenny made this rig so we could take one vehicle and all the toys! He did a beautiful job! Thanks to Neil for helping him!