Friday, May 9, 2014

Jamestown Camping Trip --Day 1 --Bills Creek, Lost Cane, and Big Sunk Cane

Furrowed Wake Robin
Jamestown Camping Trip--Day 1
April 24-27, 2014
Dana & Kenny Koogler
Maple Hill RV Park
Pictures are here: Jamestown Camping Photos
   We had been looking forward to taking our first camping trip
of the season.  Things finally fell together for us to do just that.
We managed to be able to leave by 5 pm Thursday for a long
weekend of relaxation and fun.   We had packed and prepared
Wednesday evening.  We were there by 7:30 pm Central time.
We finally got to meet Klaas, one of the owners of the campground.  We'd met Betty many times. It was great to see her again. It was wonderful to finally meet her other half! 
They are a fun spirited couple. I look forward to many more years
of visiting with them.  Jamestown and Fentress County have become a home away from home for us.
           We set up the trailer and forced ourselves to get back out
to town.  We went by Wal-Mart and did our weekend grocery shopping.  We checked the weather before going to bed. It called
for rain during the night and in the early morning.  I woke once during the night for a moment. It was pouring rain. It sounded great on the camper roof.  Its a good feeling to be in warm and dry with it raining around you.   
    Morning came and it was still a little rainy.  We had another downpour or two.  The worst was over by 9 am or so.  We took time to eat a good breakfast.  We needed non ethanol gas for the RZR so we took time to find the Farmers Co-op.  He bought the gas we needed. We had never been in the store before. Wow! It was nice.  We heard the rain beating down on the galvanized metal roof of the Co-op! We leisurely checked out the store and visited with the friendly employees.Kenny bought a new leather belt. He purchased me a ladies dri-wick hiking t-shirt.   
The rain let up so off we went. 
       We parked at Woo Hoo Holler and checked on Sharon's
shabin and so forth. Everything seemed to be in order.  We headed out to Bills Creek to start our day.

    Bills Creek was bright green and everything dripped with rain.  Mud ran in the creek and down the ditches.  We passed yards with dogs, chickens, guineas and hogs.   I began seeing wildflowers along the edges of the road.   

Bills Creek after a hard rain

Wild Columbine flourishing on the chalky limestone rocks of Bills Creek

     I love this wild and dark place of hemlocks.

      I was having a good time, but we had so much to see and explore we decided to cut this part of the Bills Creek ride short. Kenny had seen another side trail he had always wanted to find out where it went. I was game so we headed in that direction.  The rain had not come back but things were still muddy and dripping.   We took a hard right turn down the hill on another gravel road and followed it around behind some houses. On and on it went ... for awhile.  It was a pretty spot and I was really liking it, but as often happens... the trail finally played out. Not before Kenny had gotten out and built a "bridge" of rocks to fill the gap of a large wash out.  The mountain was steep here and sliding off would have been disastrous!  Yow!   The woods was beautiful and green and smelled fresh of rain.
The slopes above us were lined with trilliums pink and white, purple phlox, and yellow trilliums also.

Top-- Slopes covered in Spring ephemerals
Bottom-- view of the newly explored side trail on Bills Creek.

    We continued on the new trail as far as we could. The path deteriorated and then disappeared altogether.   Kenny found a spot to turn us around and got us out of there. We decided to head to Lost Cane next.

        We wanted to see the wild and wooly Lost Cane to learn what it would be like this time of year?
Last Spring we'd explored it and found six waterfalls and loads of wildflowers.  It was Spring again, but it was a full month later than the previous year.  We found the intersection at the top of the mountain and headed down down down into the cane.   It was pretty and green.  It was more grown up than last year.   It was not long before we got to the first waterfall. It was barely a trickle even after last nights and this mornings hard rain.  The one below it was not running at all.
We did not stop, but continued deeper into the cane.   We could hear water so we got off the RZR to see what was around. The stream to my right was running and while it was small, it was quite pretty.
We continued and passed the third and fourth waterfalls. The third one was not running at all.  The fourth one was gushing out of the ground.  We had to stop and clear downed trees a couple times.
We finally came to the fifth and sixth waterfalls.  Waterfall #5 was not running at all. It depends on the stream of surface water. Waterfall #6 was flowing very prettily. It comes from a spring in the ground.  it only flows a short distance before it goes back into a swallet.  I am posting a video
with no music added that illustrates the quiet and wildness of that area. 

Lost Cane Falls and caves in Spring. 

     It was turning out to be a wildflower paradise just like the previous year, but different flowers!
Still some trilliums, but not the huge masses of the same flowers.  This year we saw the area dominated by deep purple blooms of dwarf larkspur, white Canada violets, yellow trilliums, phlox,
trillium sulcatums deep maroon or black blooms, green and brown and burgundy toadshade trilliums. I almost left out prairie trilliums in two shades, brown and maroon.
The cane was quiet as a church except for one bawl that went up sounding like a bear.
Dry washes like cobblestone paths.  Looming moss covered rock forms that are scattered around reminding you of an ancient city now reclaimed by the earth.  I like the solitude of this place.
I also love it that it is remote, isolated, in the depths of the mountain and seldom visited.
 We stopped and ate lunch in the quiet and warm sunshine.

Top.. purple dwarf larkspur and white Canada violets among moss boulders of Lost Cane
Bottom-- Waterfall #6 flowing from a spring and in about 20 feet or less goes back into the ground.

     We continued on deciding to brave the rocky end of the trail. It would be far shorter and bring us out close to the truck.  We planned next to head across the county to visit Big Sunk Cane Falls.
I was determined to find it today.  We had to work our way past downed trees. Past briers encroaching heavily and duck under some low bridges formed by other fallen trees.
Kenny spotted a side path going up to the left on our way out. He decided to try it. I am so glad he did!  We found a much better alternative around the worst of the rocky section of trail.  We got out of there sooner than expected thanks to this!   We loaded up the RZR at the truck and parked the wagon
behind the locked gate at Woo Hoo. We would not need it again today.  We'd be hiking now.

     Big Sunk Cane is at Green Pond way across the county and into Overton County.  One of those
places where they ain't no good way to git thar from hyere.    We opted to drive route 52 to Hwy 85
as it was a more direct route on a better road. Better being a relative term especially when you talk about route 85.  If you have driven it you know what I'm talking about!  It has some pucker factor.

     Driving along toward our destination we had to pull over because I spotted a waterfall!
Posted signs dotted the terrain around it.  I decided my vision problems and recent brain problems had me WAY messed up and I just did not see that stuff.  I climbed down the bank and made my way over to this beautiful falls cascading down the bank and joining the roadside stream.  The falls doesn't have a name that I know of. It is in Pickett County.

 Top--beautiful mossy roadside stream
Bottom--oh so tempting.. trespassing trip material.. un-named waterfall.. not on the database!

     Kenny dropped me off. Parked the truck down the road. He walked up to meet me and check out the trespassing waterfall. He told me we needed to next go a short distance down the road where he parked. He had found yet another pretty cascade we'd never seen before!  We went there next and it was even worse to get down the bank to reach.  The dirt was slippery, wet and a crumbling shale slope.  I was surprised I did not fall or end up rolling into the creek, but I made it!
Roadside cascade in Pickett County. Also trespassing. Also NOT on the database. Woot woot!
The afternoon sun made everything glow.  Clearly I have need some more practice with the new camera and filters!

       We clamored back up the bank and into the truck. We didn't get busted. I count that a victory.
We enjoyed the pretty scenery on the way to Green Pond to reach Big Sunk Cane.  We had no idea what that would be like!

The Hunt for Big Sunk Cane
 We had looked for this waterfall once before when we were in the area.  We followed the directions
exactly.  We measured off the distance on the odometer precisely.  When we arrived at the pull over spot there stood a house in a curve at the start of a long rectangular field.  It was as described except for the house.  We were bummed figuring something had just changed since the guidebook was published.  I had spoken with someone about how they reached the falls and they told me they went to a gate past the house and parked and walked from there.  We passed the house and continued to the next place there was a gated entrance.  We took the waypoints for the falls and headed out in the direction indicated.  We crossed a stream and headed to the back of a field.  The GPS now had us climbing a red mud hill.  Up and up we went.  We could see around the bend below us.  The stream had a small cascade there.  The GPS still pointed in the opposite direction and we knew it was pointing correctly.  Something was wrong.  Seriously wrong. We were having one of those moments of being like the Hebrew Children wandering in the wilderness.  Disgusted we started walking back.
It was hot and humid and we knew we were way off. 
       Back at the truck we turned on the AC.  We got something to drink. We turned and started back toward where we'd come from.  I was a little down hearted.  Kenny and I spotted a pull off trail into the woods. It was an old logging road.  We decided to chance it to see if that was a trail that led to the falls?  We did not have long to figure this out. We also did not want to get busted on someone's property. The road was muddy. We could tell the falls was back that way. We were closer now!
He parked the truck and we got out and started walking.  We came to the edge of a bluff and had to figure a way down. We got off the bluff on a path that looked very sketchy.  It was steep, slippery, and made me very uneasy.  Thankfully we were soon down at the edge of the woods which gave out
onto the field.  The native cane has been cleared here except for the edges.  It was only about three feet deep and we were walking on a grassy path. 

Crossing the field at Big Sunk Cane. Such a pretty place!

    The trail enters the forest again at the far side of this field.  The evening sun is slanting and sinking lower.  It lit up the woods and the wildflowers like gold!

Trilliums illuminated by evening sunbeams just before the waterfall. 
   After a very short walk over mossy, rocky ground in the woods we arrived at the edge of the cave the waterfall drops into.  The falls is extremely pretty. The water gushed over the rocky limestone face.  It was also lit up by the same golden evening sun rays. 
 Golden view of the sun on Big Sunk Cane Falls.

Below is a photo of it adjusted for the sun.

Big Sunk Cane in a different light.  I miss my photo editing soft ware.

   It was a magical place. I was thrilled to be there at last.   We had finally found it. 
We decided we could not linger long since we were losing the light.  We were tired and hungry.
Sweaty. Ready to go home.  Kenny very heroically said the best thing to do was for him to go back
up the bluff the way we came down. He'd have me go straight out through the field and bring the truck around to pick me up.  I'd have an easier walk out and we'd know exactly where the road access point for this trail was.   He is so limber and fast he got out about the same time as I did.
I heard the truck start up and had to make smoke to get there same time as him.

   Apparently what has taken place is that the access is now gated.  There are two canes almost identical to look at them. The first one is the correct one. The second one at the given mileage is someone's yard.    Parking here is a real problem. There really is no place to park. If we come back we'll have to try to pull into the woods again. I want to come back when we have more time to explore.  It is worth noting that Sharon Blackstock Sessions managed to access the falls from Roger Norrod Lane... on the OTHER side of the bluff. A feat I'd have thought impossible. I don't know how she pulled that off, but she did! 

       We loaded up and headed back to Woo Hoo. We hitched up to the RZR and back to the campground we went.  We were treated to a beautiful sunset on the ride home.

Sunset from Hwy 52. 

Just a short distance further we stopped to take a glance at a roadside waterfall along route 52.

Notice the pink glow on the falls and the rocks? This is from the colors of the sunset on it!
We have been by here many times and have never seen this little waterfall lit up by the sunset before!

     Back at the camper we got cleaned up and prepared dinner. We had Caribbean jerk pork chops.
Parmesan noodles, and corn on the cob.   We were famished.   After dinner we rested and
watched tv and prepared for the next day.  We planned to go four-wheeling at Pickett State Forest and over into Kentucky. We also got up to our usual Barney Fifing things out.  More on that in Part 2 of the Trip Report.


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