Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Back to Black Mountain and Basin Rock--Recovery Adventure #1

Icy crust on the rim of Basin Rock

Black Mountain Area 4x4 and Hike Trip #1
Post Illness Recovery Progress

Dana & Kenny Koogler

Saturday Feb. 1, 2014. 
Ride 20 miles
Hiked about 1 mile. 

Pictures are here:
Basin Rock/Black Mtn Pix

Video Playlist is here:
Black Mountain Trip Videos Playlist

   I was feeling a lot better.  I was bored silly.  Kenny had gotten out with his buddies and gone four-wheeling after I was some improved and stable at home.   Jared looked after me  while Dad got out to decompress with his friends.  At that point I was still sick enough to be going from the bed to the couch, but I was better.  Now I was resenting not being able to get out. I missed getting outdoors. I resented not being able to drive.
My vision was improved to the point that I could see real well with one eye patched.
I could get around without my eye patch, but leaving it off for a long period especially in a moving vehicle made me feel queasy after awhile.     My balance was improved.
My tendon reflexes still pretty much gone.   The only pain I had was an occasional headache.   I was no longer nauseated.  I still had tingly feelings in my arms and legs sometimes.  I think the nerves were trying to return to normal.

    We both knew I was too frail to walk very far. I was able to ride in the RZR with the 
eye patch on.  It did not bother me. I wanted to go back to see Ozone Falls and check the surrounding area for some other waterfalls. Eleanor Hail had gotten me fired up wondering about falls below Ozone Falls itself.  We headed to that area for what was sure to be a beautiful day trip that would be good for my body and soul.  We packed us a lunch and headed out early Saturday morning.  

      Our first stop was to find something new. We located the trail to McCullough Hollow Falls with the help of Tennessee landforms, Sharon Blackstock Sessions, Google Earth, and Chris Oliver!  We had long seen the trail taking off from Bat Town Road on our trips up to Black Mountain. Today we learned where that trail led! Boys howdy! It was worth the short side trip to see.  We heard it before we saw it.  McCullough Hollow Falls 
flows out of a spring and drops into a cave. I think it must be a sump and flood sometimes.   I am not qualified to get down in there to find out.  It was beautiful.
It felt so good to be in the woods. The bitter cold weather had let up a little.
We had a day that warmed up to 52 degrees and sunny. Blue skies, fresh air, waterfalls, and sunshine can do a great deal to heal a persons mind and body.   

McCullough Hollow Falls. It flows out of a hole in the rocks.. a cave spring and re-enters the ground below at another cave. It was flowing pretty well. A neat new experience.

  It is interesting to note that we heard a roaring like water that was too intense to be this little falls.  We did not locate the source of the sound.  We first thought it might be wind blowing down the holler, but it was not. I can't help wondering if there is another cave nearby with water running in it? We may have to go back to see. We went on back in McCullough Hollow just to see what we might find? We followed a trail part of the way that played out. We hoped we'd find a way to go all the way through to Owl Roost Rd.
The trail played out and became not only less defined, but was covered in brush and downfall.   The stream we started along was also splitting into a multitude of different springs! It is quite an interesting place.   All those streams flow down past the falls, but they are not its main water source. Right past the falls that stream goes subterranean.

This stream is fed by many many spring sources. You can see here it ends and enters the ground.

     Next we headed up Black Mountain to go in the direction of Basin Rock.
I was very excited to be going to visit the rock and the falls. We had never been in these woods in Winter.  We encountered a large very friendly group of other 4x4 enthusiasts.
We stopped awhile to visit with them then started back off in the direction of Basin Rock.
Part of their group was heading back from seeing the falls and we waved to them.
Finding your way around back in these woods is tricky.  The trails are unmarked and
it is just a maze of logging roads going every which way.   We only made one wrong turn
and even that was quickly realized and corrected.

       We pulled up to Basin Rock and decided to go ahead and eat lunch sitting out on the sunny Basin Rock.  We packed all our trash up and grabbed the hiking gear to head to the falls.  Here are some images showing what Basin Rock looks like in Winters grip.

Here is the first basin with the creek flowing in over a small cascade.

Here is the first image of the long chute where Basin Creek flows along cutting through the rock.

Basin Creek flowing along at the bottom of the curved , irregular surface of Basin Rock.
The second portion widens out into another basin and flows over the 40 ft high Basin Falls.

Basin Falls is frozen over.This view cannot be had from the left hand side of the falls heading down the basin. We later went out through the woods on a different trail and approached it from the cliffs on the other side. Beneath this outer shell of ice and snow
the water flowed.  A little further down most of Basin Creek was frozen solid!

   Just past this forty foot beauty is another falls. Saw Mill Falls flows in at right angles to Basin Creek.  It is about 25 or 30 feet high.  Today was a first time visiting it seeing it frozen.  It was quite pretty. 

Frozen Saw Mill Falls only a little water flowing today.  I stood and praised God that
while I am not 100% well.. I was OUT of a hospital bed and standing before a waterfall!

   My balance going across the uneven surface of Basin Rock and hiking along the tiny trail over ice was not great. I walked with a wide stance and pinwheeling arms much of the time.  You don't realize until something like this hits you how many constant, minor adjustments your body is making until you cannot function normally.  My legs and arms were uncoordinated and felt like paper doll arms fastened to me with brass brads.
I kept my eye unpatched and with Kenny's help I was able to make it. I took my time.
I kept a sense of humor about it and so did he.  He kidded me that I'd been on a month long drunk.  We had to leap across two significant gaps in the rocks to make it to Saw Mill Falls.  I was able to do it with his help, but it was terrifying to me and for me it might as well have been trying to leap the Grand Canyon.  I remembered doing this before and leaping across those like a deer.  On our way back we picked a route that did not involve leaping back over those. I was very relieved.

    We spent a little more time exploring the trails but I was nearing my limit.
We wrapped up the ride and decided to head back in the direction of Ozone Falls via Hwy 70.   We had the chance to check from Renegade Mountain about 1/2 way to Ozone Falls for more waterfalls. We did not see any.    If they exist they are in the portion of the gorge in that big sweeping curve on Hwy 70 where the terrain is too deep to see into from the road.   Chris Oliver says he has explored from Ozone Falls down to where the stream becomes so narrow you have to wade in waist deep water.  The stream flowing from Renegade Mtn back to Ozone flows TOWARD Ozone Falls.  The stream from Ozone Falls goes in the opposite direction toward Renegade Mtn. I have a feeling if there were more waterfalls down there of any significance someone would have reported it by now.
That area is heavily visited.  So we got some answers.

    We stopped at Ozone Falls and walked down to see the falls. I am having to learn to take pictures again. I have a new camera I got for Christmas and I don't even know how to use it.  Taking photos with this messed up eye sight is bad enough without adding to it the task of learning a new camera.  Kenny got it out and fiddled with it and showed me a few things about it. It will be a process of learning and healing.  I will just take it easy and
not let it frustrate me. I was wiped out but with a hand to steady me I made it down to see the falls. It was scary walking downhill.  I do better going UPHILL!

Ozone Falls in Winter. Took this with my regular old Nikon Cool Pix P-90.
My new camera is a Canon somethingerother....
 It is HD DSLR.

    Back in the truck I covered up with Kenny's coat and sometime on the way home I slept.  I woke up close to the house to the view of our soft pale blue purple Smoky Mountains. Above them there was pink alpen glow and the soft orange hues of a sunset in the West. Today was a great day for me. I cannot express in words how good it felt to get out and to be on my way back to being normal.

 Part of me is already normal. We passed a man and woman sitting talking relationships on our way back to the truck at Ozone Falls. He was feeding her a line of B.S. that would choke a donkey.  I kept my lip buttoned, but when my internal monologue is screaming SHUT UP!! when I heard this nonsense...... I'm still in there somewhere. Mean as ever. 


  1. Really enjoy your explorations. Glad you're feeling better enough to get out. We've got some big frozen waterfalls around here too.

  2. Checked out your location. We must have gone through Walland last spring on our way west from the Smokies. Nice country you live in!

  3. Thanks Furry Gnome for reading and commenting. Glad you liked the trip report. I enjoy writing them. I refer back to them as cheat sheets sometimes to recall various things. Re-reading some of them and the trip reports of others certainly helped me hang on until I was able to get out myself. Walland is a beautiful area.


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