Saturday, August 9, 2014

Cumberland Plateau Hiking and Exploring--Foster Falls & Coppinger Cove

Yellow Fringed Orchid Season is here!

Hiking and Exploring Foster Falls, Coppinger Cove & 
Sequatchie Cave State Natural Area

Dana  & Kenny Koogler
Sunday August 3, 2014

Foster Falls Photos

Coppinger Cove Photos 


   We stayed in the Super 8 Motel at Monteagle Saturday night. It was a good value.  It was decorated modern and clean as a pin.  I would stay there again based on the price, value and convenience. One thing I did not like was if you don't pay with a credit card they charge a $100 deposit.  For a single night stay we paid cash. I didn't feel good about that policy and I would prefer staying down in Jasper at the Comfort Inn next time. Note to self!  We slept well and 
got up the next morning and packed up to go get breakfast. We were both still so stove up  
from all that bone jarring ride toward the last of Saturday we were not interested in going riding today.   We opted to get some exercise in by hiking. 

        We didn't want to get into a lot today as we had a three hour drive home. 
Foster Falls was nearby and we thought we'd go there and hike a bit. We had camped there once and wanted to see if the rumors they had  updated the campground for RV camping were true?  
We went and found the place and it was still set up for tent camping only.   AsFar as I know
 there is no RV camping close to that area.  I read that Laurel Trails Campground closed up.   
We hiked the trail to Foster Falls first.

       We stopped by the overlook.  We checked that out and it was very pretty. It was a nice clear day and the view was good.   We headed down into the gorge to visit Foster Falls from the base.   The hike down is not long, but it is very scenic. It is a dark green hemlock forest in a gorge.   I recall the first time I saw it
in March  2002.   It was on a camping trip.   We stayed Friday and Saturday night.    We went climbing.
We got up early in the morning and hiked down to the waterfall on Saturday.  It was so pretty it inspired a
little impromptu romance in the woods hidden behind a huge boulder. We thought we were out of view.
What do you do when you are bathing in the afterglow of love and you hear applause from way up there somewhere......... on the cliffs?  Take a bow? Crawl in a hole?    We were heading across the suspension
bridge when Kenny got to retelling the story and I had to laugh.   Oh well... wouldn't life be boring as heck
if things always went according to plan?  Life needs spicy moments.  The older I get the more I am convinced of that.    The other take away ? NEVER trust rock climbers.  Sneaky little devils.

       
Suspension Bridge across the gorge heading to Foster Falls

Foster Falls from the base. It is about sixty feet high. 


    We soon arrived at the base of Foster Falls. It was as pretty as I remembered.  It sometimes dries up in Summer like many other falls in the Cumberland Plateau, but this one is the highest volume waterfall year round of all others.   We spent some time here just enjoying the view. I took time to work on learning to use my new camera and lenses better.  Kenny helped me some.   It is a work in progress.

        We hiked back out and were surprised it was not that bad.   Kenny had agreed to hike the power line cut with me. I wanted to botanize some today.   Our efforts were rewarded handsomely.  We found lots of orchids and other pretty flowers in the area.    Always remember that orchids like power line clearings! 
 Platanthera ciliaris-- Yellow Fringed Orchid.  
Hypericum gentianoides (Orangegrass) with the tiny yellow flowers.  Polygala curtissii --Curtiss' Milkwort with the pink drum shaped flowers.  If you get the chance to find orangegrass.. crush some and inhale its fragrance. It does smell delightfully like a fresh orange!  Other wildflowers seen today were:
lots of blazing star, fame flower, joe pye weed, maryland meadow beauty, blooming shrubs were sumac.. which smelled like the breath of Heaven. Unbelievably birds foot violet was still in bloom and it is August!
Saw gopher weed, but was not in bloom.  


 View from the overlook trail.   

We hiked part of the Fiery Gizzard Trail. It was pretty too.   



Top: Fiery Gizzard Bridge and Bottom: Gizzard Creek


     We wrapped up our hike at Foster Falls and decided to go hunt up a local fire tower.
The upper end of the road was unsigned so we missed the turn.  We soon found it though.
It was not the most interesting fire tower I've visited, but it was neat.  It is the Big Hill Lookout Tower in Jasper, TN.   It is in good repair.  I climbed it as far as I could, but the cab was locked. The steps had been restored, but it appeared the cab was original. The view from up there was still pretty even having to peer through the legs of the tower. 


Big Hill Fire Tower in Jasper, TN near Foster Falls.


View from up in the Big Hill Tower.  

    The drive out Fire Tower Road to visit the tower was pretty.  I saw lots of yellow fringed orchids just standing along the road!  Kenny was kind enough to stop and let me check them out.  We try to compromise on things. I put up with his rocky, rough ass trails and he puts up with my wildflower ramblings.  Together we are a great team!  One thing we talk about from time to time is my propensity for what appear to be trivial "useless" tidbits of information.  Our mutual love of exploring and outdoors is one of our greatest bonds.  Part of what makes that possible is my insatiable curiosity and my R2A2 for details that help bring us closer to finding things.
What is R2A2? It is W. Clement Stone's Formula For Success
Recognize, Relate, Assimilate, Apply (Action!) 
I used to work for W. Clement Stone's Combined Insurance Company.  It means that I did a lot 
of reading about goal setting, positive mental attitude, and learned about the 
reticular activating system of the brain..  It can be taught to function like one of those 
 computer programs running in the background that snaps to high attention when something
is pertinent to achieving a goal.  It recognizes "Thats for me".  about words,things on maps, people, that move me closer to finding things I want to find.  It is something Kenny has learned to put up with in me and just go with it. He has been on the other end of it where it pays off and we find things that seem to come out of nowhere.  They do come from somewhere.  They come from constant searching and scanning. I'm like a waterfall seeking, cave seeking, trail seeking, adventure seeking Fem Bot! 



     

Roadside lined with lots of yellow fringed orchids and a close up of one.

    Kenny is a good thing finder too. He realized just based on a wrong turn we'd made that we were very close to Coppinger Cove already!  We had wanted to head down into that area to see what we might run across for future trips.   It is the lower end of where we'd ridden on Saturday. We found what we were looking for with no trouble.  It is beautiful down in there!  


Twin Chimneys at the end of Coppinger Cove Road. The trail takes off right past this.





The trail crossing the river.   This is one of those moments when I'm looking into my 
Crystal Ball of the Future and I see all sorts of good times and fun adventures! 


 
The Little Sequatchie River . A stump in the foreground with steps nailed to it. 



A suspension bridge over the Little Sequatchie River at Camp Glancy. 

    The area down in that cove along the Little Sequatchie is a slice of Heaven on Earth.

We had seen a sign along the main road for Sequatchie Cave State Natural Area. I had not even heard of this.  We went back there to check it out before heading home.   It was lovely and we took a look at the spring and the cave before using this pretty spot to eat lunch and then start home.  



Blowing Spring-- a cave with a huge spring coming out. It is so large and cold it 
forms Owen Spring Branch.


Owen Spring. The water is so cold. I'm guessing 58 degrees. It feels like when you ford a stream 
in the Smokies in Winter.  Little hammers hitting your feet til they throb!
It is a day in August where it is sunny and 87 degrees! 

    We will be back here to have more adventures and do more exploring.  We have only scratched the surface.    What a fun trip. We headed out to face the long drive home. We will either try to get back over here to stay at Hales Bar Marina Campground next time or possible our favorite.. Raccoon Mountain Campground!  Good times to come!

No comments:

Post a Comment