Monday, May 12, 2014

Jamestown Camping Trip--Day 2--Pickett State Forest and Kentucky Four-wheeling

White form of birds foot violet @ Pickett State Forest, TN

Jamestown Camping Trip Part 2
Pickett State Forest & Kentucky Four-Wheeling

Dana & Kenny Koogler
Sat. April 26, 2014

Pictures are here: Pickett SF Pix

    We woke up Saturday morning and opted to make breakfast simple so we could get on the
trail.  We just had cereal and coffee and juice.    We gathered our belongings and set off for the day.
We had a couple things we wanted to scope out on the way to Pickett State Forest to ride.
We had been hiking back in the Fall to the new state natural area.  Pogue Creek.  We reached it from
an access we found on the west side.  I wanted to find an access from the east side as it would be much closer to where we'd be today.    The landforms we hoped to see were more on the eastern side.
We also wanted to find access to two waterfalls on the Tennessee landforms database which lacked
 photos.   I had a feeling we'd been looking too far north for the road to reach these.

       We headed up the road and I realized we were passing through an area called Sharps Station.
I called haw and Kenny turned us around.  I put in the waypoints for those falls since they'd be the closest thing to us.  Sharps Branch Falls and Stewart Creek Falls lay to our west.
 We found an access alright but it is restricted owing to the fact it is a gated community.
We also found Basin Road which we'd been looking for too far north.  We tried an assortment of ways to reach the falls. No luck.  All had to cross private property.  We set that aside for now and continued on checking for an eastern access to Pogue Creek.   Long story short that did not pan out either after multiple variations on the attempt.  Private property. Locked gates.    The lay of the land at another place Kenny wanted to try was not going to work and I knew it.  A cliff lay between our
position and the land forms with no way off.     However... It appears the DCNR is working on a parking area in the vicinity so that may be coming. I will share whatever I learn.

             We had plenty to do today.  Kenny had been hankering to ride at Pickett and practice navigating the trails here.   I had been busting to get back to see a huge arch in Wayne County, Kentucky.  I had been there before but I wanted to go back and go in the cave.     We unloaded on
Blackhouse Mountain Road.  The forest here was looking more like the month of March!
It was still not leafing out like back home.  Birdfoot violets lined the road in great patches.

Top--Sandy trail winding through Pickett State Forest, TN
Bottom-- Masses of birdfoot violets along the road.

   We crossed over the top of Carpenter Rock House and swung on past it and down to go check it out. Just past that is the pretty arch pictured below.  We talked to some very nice fellows there.  They were from Somerset, Kentucky.

Top-- Looking up at the sun shining through the trees along the bluff. 
Bottom--arch and sunshine.

     We departed from the first small arch at Pickett and continued north west toward Kentucky and the big arch.   It was further out there than I remembered, but it was a pretty ride and enjoyable.
Pickett is getting overused to the point the main trails are rutted, wallowed out and eroded.  They stand in mud and more mud and more mud ..... It is a stark comparison to Royal Blue who actually maintains their trails. They re-route and give an area a chance to rest and recover.  We began seeing
the trails have less people and consequently less wear as we got further out.  We managed to find the big arch.  It was so overgrown with trees and greenery this time of year it would be very easy to just
miss it!  The waterfall flowed from the top falling down the far side of it.  

 Top--The arch is here, but hidden!
Bottom-- the un-named wet weather falls flows from the top.

     We stopped to go check out the big arch.  We had come prepared with more lights to go in the cave this time.  Kenny went ahead of me and was already down in the pit under the arch while I was still fiddling with camera equipment.  I stopped at the lip of the pit to look around.  The waterfall in the cave was roaring. I looked ahead of me at the small path leading into the pit and saw something strange.  I had to do a double take.  I saw a ball of light.  It looked like a rainbow that was ball shaped.  Kenny was already down there and I shouted to him over the noise to look at it. I felt like
I was seeing things.  It could not be real. I felt that as soon as I moved closer it would vanish.  He called back to me that he saw it too!  I snapped a photo from where I stood to be sure I would not miss the chance.  Once I had that image captured I moved down the path closer to it. 
Ball of Rainbow in the pit!

  I was thrilled that instead of vanishing .. the closer I got the bigger and brighter the rainbow grew!
I got some better photos of it.  I finally was so far into the waterfall's splashing that I had to put the camera away to avoid ruining it.  I moved even closer and Kenny stood behind the falls. I could see a large double rainbow! He could not see it as he was behind it.  I just stood there and enjoyed it for a little bit.   Finally I got moving and went on down to the cave with him. 
Closest view of the rainbow I was able to get. 

        We crawled down in the cave.  The waterfall ahead of us roared. Kenny was behind me. I made a good start of it.  I entered the cave wading in an underground stream and was moving along pretty good.  Kenny went up to a passage that seemed to go to the top of the waterfall.  I was moving in tight quarters.  I had only an inch or two of clearance over my head.  Cave crickets clung to the cave walls.  I knew in my mind they were harmless and would not bother me.  I was overcome by the noise and claustrophobia. I went back out.  Kenny came down to join me.  He tried to help me focus and calm down.  I went forward again trying to remain calm.  I got within inches of the waterfall.
I felt consumed by panic. I had to get out! Kenny went ahead to see the falls.  He cried out with an expression of disappointment.  It was only about four feet high.  He laughed and said that I hadn't missed much. I went on out.  This place is something to see!

Top- Inside the cave. Odd looking rock and underground stream
Bottom-- view looking out of the cave. where I wanted to go!

 I backed up under the arch to get this view of the entire falls.  It is quite large and beautiful.

  I spent some time exploring the cave. Kenny went in the lower entrance. He finally came back out and said that the stream went through the whole cave.  He also said that it appeared while at one time you could go in one entrance and come out the other.. that the passage had collapsed making it possible only for water and light to go through.  At this point it is too tight for a man to make it past.
We went down the hill and I explored the stream area.  It was a nice setting. There are no major falls upstream that I saw, but a few pretty cascades. 

   We decided to head back toward the main trails section and check out some overlooks.
We stopped by one I had never been to before.  I felt an odd dragging sensation and looked down. Here is what I saw:
My eight year old worn out hiking boots. Kenny repaired them with shoe goo. Wading the stream in them caused them to just totally blow out. Here is what we did to help them hang on for one more day. I had a back up pair of boots back at the truck.
Black electrical tape! It kept them together until I was back at the truck!

Here is the view from that overlook. It was quite scenic.

  Next we ended up at the top of Car Hauler!  Kenny had gotten mixed up and we came out at the top of it instead of the base.  It was the only time all day the navigation got the best of us.   It was no big deal. Car Hauler is not something we do unless we're in a group.  It is a good place to get hurt and be a long way from help.   I realized for the first time today that a wet weather falls goes down beside the car hauler! 

Car Hauler

Wet weather stream falling beside Car Hauler

    We stopped and had lunch.   We soaked up the warm sunshine and pretty skies.
Here are a couple shots from the overlooks:

Top--Wagon Gap Overlook
Bottom--Yellow Doors Overlook

   We went just cruising around and went down to the blue lake for awhile.  Kenny had a notion we might be able to find an access for Pogue Creek out that way. I did not agree, but was game to explore.   It turned out I was sadly correct. The trail does go off the bluff and in the right general direction, but it does not provide access. It just goes out to a point of land with that lake still above the valley floor.   So  much for that idea.  

Pretty blue-green lake.  

    We headed back to the truck having ridden about 30 miles.  We were relaxed and happy.
Some things we planned did not work out. Some worked out just fine.  I was feeling good about life and having a fine time.  I sat down on the trailer and tried to get those wet, ruined boots off.
I laughed every time I looked at them.  I wondered if I'd have to be cut out of them as I'd been taped in?  I did not. I was able to get them off my feet. 

     We headed back to the camper to enjoy a nice dinner and some time to do nothing.
We had steaks marinated in Jack Daniels marinade on the grill. We had baked potatoes.
We had corn on the cob and veggies.   It was good stuff.   We watched tv and just relaxed.
It was a good day.

Here is a video of Wagon Gap Overlook

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