Friday, May 29, 2015

Barnett Knob Fire Tower--Return Trip

Closeup of Indian Paintbrush

Barnett Knob Fire Tower Return Trip 
Friday May 22, 2015
Dana Koogler
Mike Gourley

Total hike distance 1.5 miles approx. 

Photos are here beginning with frame 71
(Southern Fire Towers album)

Barnett Knob Pix

Below is a link to a Google Map showing the location of the tower.
Barnett Knob Tower Map

  Mike and I headed back toward Kephart Prong from Heintooga.  On the way we were yacking
and I pointed up to a gated spur road to our left and said "That road goes up to Barnett Knob Fire Tower".   Mike had been wanting to see that and was even more keen to see it when he learned the tower was still standing, could be climbed and that there was an old wardens cabin up there.  
It lies on the Qualla Boundary near Cherokee, North Carolina.  It is managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.     It is a short, easy hike to reach it.    Its about 3/4 mile up to it and back making it about 1 1/2 miles round trip.   I had hiked it in late Summer only once before.    

       We parked at the gate and gathered our gear and began our short stroll.   
The entire hike was pretty. I saw lots of late Spring wildflowers.  I saw more Indian paintbrush on this hike than I ever have seen before in my life!   Vaseys trillium was present. Puttyroot orchid.
One flowered cancer root.   It was really nice.  
Starting our walk up the old road

Indian paintbrush was all along the gravel road 

Puttyroot orchid

Vaseys trillium

One flowered cancer root.

    The old road curves around to the right and forms a loop around the tower and the cabin.
You can go either way.  We just continued straight.   I thought I saw a bird go into the weeds along the road.  I remarked about it to Mike.   I thought it was a turkey hen as it seemed pretty tall from the bare glimpse I had of it.   I began seeing movement in the weeds and brush and I heard hissing and a commotion.     Out came a mother grouse. Shades of de ja vu!  I remembered being flogged by a Mama grouse last Spring!  Out ran little mama grouse fussing at us and acting fierce. Out popped a couple tiny brown and black peeps.   They were so cute as they scattered.   She put on her best upset mother act.  I talked to her in soothing tones and gave her some space.   We got some photos of her, but this time I did not get any video footage worth sharing. I think I shot 3 seconds worth before she was gone.    She was not nearly as upset as the other mama grouse I encountered a year ago.
Still pretty angry though.

Little mama grouse defends her babies with a threat display.
A few steps more and we were at the tower itself.

Mike peering into the cabin at the back entrance. We went in cautiously.   We did not see anything bad. It is just dusty and dirty, but in fair shape.    I don't ever go in buildings like that without checking for critters.

View from up in the tower.  You cannot go into the cab but its still worth the climb for the views!

         We strolled around up there and enjoyed the views. We made our way back down carefully.
We finished the loop and back down the road we went.  It was another small adventure on a beautiful day!    

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