Tuesday, April 28, 2015

West Fentress Weekend

Prairie trillium 

West Fentress Weekend 

Dana & Kenny Koogler

Saturday April 25 & Sunday April 26, 2015

pictures are here: 
West Fentress Weekend

    We had wanted very much to get back over to Fentress County to do some more exploring.
The forecast called for a nasty weekend with potential not only for rain, but tornadoes.
We also had a massive brush pile that needed to be hauled off to the land fill Saturday morning.
We decided to stick around home on Saturday and get that brush hauled away and watch
the weather.  We figured we'd head over later Saturday evening.  We got our land fill run over with.  Kenny checked the weather and it was clearing!  We quickly threw some things in the truck
and loaded up and off we went.    We were going to have better weather than had been expected.
Off into the Wild Blue Yonder .. a pretty day at Woo Hoo! 
We got to Woo Hoo, Sharon's place and parked the truck.  We had decided to try spending our first night in the shabin. Sharon had offered many times, but thus far we had not taken her up on it.  Since we'd only be over for a single night and since part of our purpose was to try to help work on the ATVs for her and John... it made sense to be here close.    We threw what we needed
on the back of the RZR and took off.  We stopped to hunt mushrooms, but they were done for the season.  The wildflowers were still pretty, but the season for some of them is fading.    

 Few large flowered trilliums and yellow trilliums blooming. 

  We had realized in the past couple months that there was an entire portion of Lost Cane 
we were missing out on.    We had wanted to try to find a way down in there this trip.   One of our
main goals was to find access into that unexplored area.    We tried first going up the ridge above 
Bill's Creek so we could attempt to drop off the back side of it into Lost Cane.  We had cut that trail out completely last time here so we figured it would be a cakewalk by comparison.  
We were disappointed to find that another massive tree had fallen across the trail near the start of it.   Kenny said "Oh no. I'm just not in the mood to start that so early today." We went ahead up the trail and decided to try two other points of potential access into that area.  My read on the 
topography was that the trail he tried next up top was going to head out the ridge with no 
way off into the bottom.  

        The trail we tried did got out the ridge.  The first part of it was a good trail and we liked it.
It snaked out the ridge with partial views off to the sides.  We could see off both sides in places.
Eventually it began to trend downward giving us hope that there might be a way down off the ridge here?!  The problem then became one downed tree after another.  Small trees were also grown up
in the path.  Past a certain point it appears this trail doesn't get traveled.  We finally turned and headed back.  I wanted to go back and try the Upper Bill's Creek Trail and drop off into Lost Cane there.   Kenny wanted to go out the road and try to find another trail he'd seen visible from 
Google Earth.   We went out the road and tried to find it.  It was nowhere to be seen.  

       We saw this at the end of Bill's Creek. 

The photo is of a sign on a tree in the middle of nowhere in Fentress County. The overlook it speaks of is located along the Cherohala Skyway about 150 miles south of this point by road and about 90 miles as the crow flies.   Always vet your way points before going! 
Plug them into your GPS and check them first. This is a prank someone is trying to pull.  
I admire their black sense of humor.   :-)

         I told Kenny he needed to study that google earth map more and set a way point on it
for us to have any hope of locating it.  Out here in the real world you cannot get that birds eye view
that you get with Google Earth satellites.   You have to have help to make it stick.  Like many things.. its not a good idea until its HIS idea.   We went round another way to get into Lost Cane.
Oy! A hard way it turned out to be.  We were mighty lumberjacks again today.  Cutting out more 
fallen trees on the short cut trail we'd found.   What a mess.  It is so pretty in there, but muddy.
We encountered one deep mud hole after another filled to the brim with tadpoles and frogs!
We cleared trees.   He showed me a cut across trail he and Buck had found.  On that one I got a nasty reminder about KEEPING ALL BODY PARTS IN THE RZR!   I reached a hand up to push some hanging limbs over the top of the RZR. Two saplings snapped my pinky finger and ring finger back so hard I thought they'd be torn off.  It hurt so bad I could not make any sound.
It took my breath away.    I got my fingers freed and sat holding my hand checking it.  It only scratched the skin on my fingers, but they hurt.  I knew they'd be fat and swollen and later they were black and blue and all puffed up.   It scared me.  I pulled my t-shirt up over my face
and cried a little.  Then I got alright and was over it.  We did end up making a connection
as to how the trails came together so it was worth it.  The short cut trail is now cleared.

         Down in Lost Cane at last we realized that only some of the waterfalls would be flowing.
The first pair had only a trickle going over one and the other dry.    We had decided we'd go down 
so far and if we found anyone else had been in and cleared even one more log out of the way we'd continue.  Here is what we found. 

Thankfully someone had started cutting where Kenny, Sharon and I had stopped.
We found that the way was cleared down into Brer Rabbitt's Briar Patch so we went that far and quit.   The lower end of the trail is full of briars and vegetation.  Beyond the overgrown briar patch is a really rocky stretch. Kenny was not in the mood and neither was I to deal with that today.
It looks like perfect snake territory and today was nice and warm.  

       We stopped on the way through and visited two of the waterfalls we could hear running.
There is no trail down to them.  You just have to climb for it.

           First waterfall you come to here is about fifteen feet high and comes out of a cave and goes into a swallet.  


This boulder is massive. I'm guessing thirty feet high and about thirty to forty feet wide.
I finally managed to set the camera up to capture what this sinkhole looked like at five pm.
It was dark down here! This is right by the two waterfalls.

No trail here.  Just steep sides around you everywhere and house sized boulders.

The second waterfall at this spot is long and tall and falls between massive boulders.
It is about thirty feet high. By it is a rectangular boulder that is fifty feet high from its top point.

The camera lightens things up so the images here show the beautiful Spring greens which I love.
It does not show without using the flash to darken it how it really looks to the human eye at five p.m.

  We crept back up the bank and rode down a little further and came to the spot where we could hear the next waterfall flowing. Only one of this pair was running today.  It has had water on it every time.
The Spring wildflowers were still pretty. Prairie trillium, Southern Red trillium, Appalachian bugbane, yellow trillium, a rare large flowered trillium, and lots of dwarf larkspur were present along with Canada violets.
Mayapples stood like small green umbrellas along the slopes.

Down in the rocks and dry washes of Lost Cane.

Last waterfall today. Out of a spring above it and into two swallets!
The other one of this pair was dry today.

Dwarf larkspur bloomed profusely down here today.

    It was growing darker so we turned and headed back up the way we'd come.
On the way back I was dreading getting smacked in the face again, eyes poked, by twigs, limbs, briars.
My fingers were beginning to thump now.   It wasn't as bad as I anticipated, but we did see two or three spots which bear further and closer investigation on return trips.   One spot caught my eye as we were looking at one on the left side.. I noticed a foot path going up on the right.  Next thing I knew I was out of the RZR and on the run. I trotted up the slopes and started hearing water.  I popped over an embankment and there before me was a cave with a waterfall coming over it.  It wasn't really a cave, but a wide slit in a dirt bank.   I kept going and hooted back for Kenny to come on and bring the camera.  It was a very cool
finding and we enjoyed checking it out.
The photo above and below show the rock house with the small waterfall. It is rough in there. Not groomed
at all. No trail to it.  Just a rough footpath to get up the bank.

          We went back to the RZR, but will have to return and continue above this as the path keeps going.
It may lead to nothing, but we want to know for sure.  I'm still looking for Frank's Flume. Maybe this will be it!  You never can tell, but finding things is fun. Here is a link to the visit to this rockhouse falls.
Newly Visited Rock House and waterfall

Sun is setting in the west.  We stopped on the way back at an overlook I knew of.  Kenny has been to it.
Sharon has been to it, but Kenny did not remember it.   He checked that infernal phone of his since it had a signal here.  It told us that a very bad storm was on the way in about an hour.  We had to get going he said.
Here is a link to a short video of the quiet beauty of that moment. Skinner Mountain Sunset

         Back at the shabin we unlocked everything and got about the business of cooking dinner.
He grilled us up some excellent burgers. I used the propane stove to boil up some mac and cheese.
We were both tired and wanted to hurry and keep it simple.  We ate well and after dinner I cleaned up our small mess while Kenny made up a bed for us.   We both washed up with baby wipes and went to bed.
Sometime during the next hour or so after lights out I began hearing thunder.  Soon after that the rain arrived.
We had quite a thunderstorm. One crack of lightning and boom of thunder shook the shabin and woke us out of a sound sleep! It was close!   Neither of us slept well thanks to that, but our first experience in the shabin was good!   Thanks Sharon and John!

             Next morning we woke and the rain had quit.  All that was left was the spatter of drops off the trees
when the wind would blow.   I had a cup of instant coffee while we got ready. We headed to town to McDonald's for a quick breakfast and to replenish our ice in the cooler.   A check of the weather revealed
the day should be clearing up.   We went back to Woo Hoo and Kenny got to work on the four-wheelers.
I cleaned up and packed up.   We ended up calling Sharon later when we had a phone signal and just bringing the ATVs home to service them here in Kenny's garage.  It was a hilarious process figuring out
how to load them and haul them, but he did it!  I helped all I could.

           We were not in the mood to ride in that nasty wet today.  We decided instead to go hike
and then we'd head home at a reasonable hour.  I talked Kenny into taking me back to visit Big Sunk Cane Falls.  I knew the hike was short, the waterfall was pretty and the Spring wildflowers beautiful.
We found it this time with no trouble.  It is clear across into Overton County in a separate part of Nowheresville.    Long drive. Short hike.   It was worth it.

Big Sunk Cane Falls is about 70 ft high. It comes out of the ground at the top of this rock in a spring stream.
It enters the ground at the bottom of this sink.    It is a cave.  The sunk cane is the entire surface depression which starts out at the road.  You cross the main part of the sink to get here. The only cane left is along the edges.   You enter woods and the sink ends at the waterfall.  Here is a link to a video of Big Sunk Cane Falls

Big Sunk Cane had lots of dwarf larkspur in deep purple, lavender and almost white!

Prairie trillium, southern red trillium, bugbane, canada violets, yellow trillium,  and mayapples were also present.  I saw large flowered trillium, but it was past peak bloom and fading fast.  I did not see any Catesby's trillium today, but it is here.

        On our long drive back the sun began coming out!
Kenny exclaimed at a waterfall he saw down over the bank along the road.  We stopped to check it out.
It was a great find!

Big Indian Creek Falls.. not on the database yet, but has been submitted now!

        We did not tarry long here as we were not able to find the property owner for permission.
No one lives in the house we found.     Back at the shabin we loaded stuff up and got ready to roll home.
We were both tired.  It had been an odd weekend, but better weather than had been called for.
We avoided any tornadoes!   We'll be back to bring the ATV's and cut more wood and clear more trails.

Below are a couple of the best videos from this weekend. Big Indian Creek Falls and Lost Cane.

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