Saturday, May 30, 2015

Memorial Day Camping Trip --Riding the River Trail and Garrett Mill Falls and Rugby

American bladdernut -a flowering shrub along the 
East Fork Obey River, TN. 

Memorial Day Camping Trip 
Saturday May 23, 2015

Sunday May 24, and Monday May 25, 2015

Miles Ridden--30

Miles Hiked 2.2
Dana & Kenny Koogler
Sharon McGee
Invited but absent.. present in spirit

John Ungerer

Memorial Day Camping Trip Pix

   We got up and hustled to pack and get on the road Saturday morning. I was still stove up and sore from Friday's hiking. I was not much interested in hiking this weekend for sure.   Luckily we planned to visit with Sharon and take it easy.  I needed it and I know Kenny did too.    We got going and were at the campground and set up by 10:30 or so.   We'd even had time to run in Wal-Mart in Jamestown to do our grocery shopping.   We stayed at Maple Hill RV Campground.  It is such a nice place with a very family type atmosphere.   We got to greet Betty and Klass DeJong the owners of the place.
They have gotten to be friends and not merely owners of a business we frequent.    Good people.

     We headed over to Woo Hoo to see Sharon. Friday had been her actual birthday, and we had 
some birthday surprises for her.   It was great to see my friend again. Hugs and kisses and more hugs.
I grow to love her more and more.   We missed John but hoped that he'd be jealous enough of our doings he'd bust out of Florida soon and join us.   The list of places we must all go together grows ever longer.    Sharon liked her birthday presents and we had fun picking them out and giving them.
I did not take any photos of them, but I was proud of the selections.   I love getting funny cards and presents for people.  

      We decided to ride the River Trail.  It was the first time we'd been there when the river levels were down enough to ride it.  We passed a couple other riders on the way and tent campers!
It was a perfect, blue bird day. Blue skies. Puffy clouds. Sunshine. Perfect temperatures.
A bit on the cool side for swimming, but beautiful just the same.  We quickly gathered our stuff and headed off down the road.   We hadn't gone far when I began seeing gorgeous late Spring wildflowers.  I was not believing my luck!

The red and yellow flowers are Indian Pinks. The black ones are Climbing milkweed.

Also seen a short distance further down the road was White Milkweed.

     We forded the river the first time and the only other group of riders we encountered were taking a snack break there across the river at the ford.   The water levels were just right.  Enough water in the river to make it fun to swim or play, but not so much to make it hard to get across.

Above: East Fork River through the hemlock trees.
Lower photo-- The river trail

    We took a leisurely ride up the river with plenty of stops to check things out.
Sharon wanted to go on up to the jumping off rock so that is where we headed.

We passed the blue hole on the way.  Trout were swimming like crazy in the river today.
Sharon heard from her neighbor Caleb that the Red Horse suckers had their spawning run the weekend before.   I'd like to see that some time.  I did see piles of sucker eggs in the river where there is not much current!

 Above is a photo of the jumping off rock.  The river was gorgeous and the forest so green.
Magnolias bloomed on the far banks.  The fragrance of honeysuckle and roses was all along the river today.   Perfect day.
All this beauty in one spot and under a blue blue sky.

We saw pale white and bold pink mountain laurel in several spots along the river.

Sharon has brought a snack of fresh cherries which we are enjoying.  She is preaching Kenny a sermon on how crazy he is to not like tomatoes.  I love this woman!  :-)

    We decided to ride on up to the Blow Hole Cave which is one of the entrances to Xanadu Cave system.    We had been before, but it had been quite awhile.    The forest up river is a pretty place and a nice ride.     We went on up there enjoying the deep green hemlock forest.

 River Trail through the forest at midday.
 Sharon approaching the blow hole cave.

 Looking out of the Blow Hole
Sharon is hunkered down on that little point of rock jutting out over a pit.  Today we could see better than there IS a floor in this pit.  It is a good ways down to it though.

       The wind coming out of the Blow Hole was ruffling all the pretty ferns and vegetation around the entrances.   It is a neat place to visit especially on a hot day.

    We made our way back down toward the Shabin at Woo Hoo.  She has it fixed up so nice.
We saw more interesting things on the way. Some of which I did not have my camera for at the time and had to go back to see the next day!
 Swamp Rose growing along the river banks.  There were lots of these and they smelled so nice!

Clear water and ripples in the stream.  One of many fords.

We didn't see this on the way in.. but caught it on the way out. Sharon pointed it out.  I love Jesus, but I don't want to paint his face on the rocks with a stencil. That is just messing up the world
He created to be pretty for everyone! Put your stencil and your spray paint up.  

   We went back to Woo Hoo at a decent hour.  We had dinner reservations at Bacarra's Restaurant at 7 pm and wanted to have time to get cleaned up.  It is a little ride out there from Jamestown so we 
didn't get into anything too lengthy today.   We had a fantastic dinner there with wine, excellent service and great conversation. It was so good to spend time together!  The fireflies on the way drive back home were beautiful also.     


    We made plans to do something fun on Sunday, but nothing too strenuous.   We planned to meet Sharon and ride up past Livingston to visit Garrett Mill Falls.  We also wanted to do some scouting 
about some sinkhole locations and the entrance road to Alpine Mountain WMA.  

 We saw a baby water snake at Garrett Mill Falls. I touched him and talked to him. He was very docile.   Michael would have loved seeing him. This little snake had a sweet disposition.
We passed the ruins of an old grist mill on the way to this spot.
Garrett Mill Falls has multiple drops. This little cascade is very scenic.  The stream flows from underground and forms another three drops of a waterfall across the road.  

We went IN the cave as far as we could.   We freaked out about cave spiders.
Lots of ugly graffitti tags in the cave.   It is a novel place.  I had my water shoes so I just waded the creek and was good to plow on through the water in the cave.  We came prepared with lights.
 In the cave.. it quit here.
 Sharon ahead of me in the cave taking pix.
Looking back out the entrance

We checked out the other drops of the falls. All were very scenic. There are no official trails to the lower portions and we had to be very careful of poison ivy.   
One of three drops to Garrett Mill Falls.  There would be a 4th one during times of recent, heavy rain fall,but today it was barely damp.

Below is a video that shows all the drops to Garrett Mill Falls.  

   We enjoyed this spot.  We drove out to find a sink hole I know has a waterfall in it.
I lost interest quickly.  It was getting hot.  It was snakey and overgrown.  I was picking a horrible time to try this!   Instead we ate lunch and cooled off.

        We went back through Alpine and with the help of some young men Kenny talked to while we were at the waterfalls... we found it!  Finding this road is not easy if you are not local. It is well tucked away.   We played with puppies at  a nice ladies house and enjoyed a pleasant conversation with her.  

    Back at Woo Hoo... we had a little bit of time so Kenny took me back up the river trail to explore two things I wanted to see.  We found a side stream that just looked different.  It reminded me of the spring creek coming out of Shipps Cave in Coppinger Cove.  I checked it out on Saturday without any camera because I got so excited and just took off.  Today I went back IN water shoes WITH a camera and took photos and video.  That was thing one.  I found that it emerges from a boil and a cave.  I also found an old bridge rotting and a high water road that the bridge used to provide access to!  East Fork River gets up and folks had to have ways out all along the river whenever they could.
This is one example.   We also explored an area of bottom land I could see, but usually could not access.  Today we reached it because the river is down.  Not much over there, but an old fence and a rock wall.  At last my curiosity was satisfied though.
 Blue spring boil .. the water pulsates up out of the ground here and helps form this stream.
Blue Spring Boil Video

 Spring creek that merges with the East Fork River
 Rotting old wooden bridge!  I found a huge chunk of metal anchor from this bridge.
Old rock wall where I never expected to find anything!

   We went back to the campground and rested. Sharon came over and we cooked out. We visited with some of the other campers including Klaas and Betty.   It was a relaxing evening.
We finished off the birthday bottle of wine. Good to the last drop!  Sharon planned to head out on Monday sometime going back to Florida so that evening we said our sad goodbyes.
She'll be back in June so that helps.


  Monday we slept in for a change.  We fixed a nice breakfast.  It called for thunderstorms on Monday afternoon and we had to check out at a reasonable time. We opted to do some hiking on this side of the highway.  We went over to Rugby to explore and hike.  
It was just right.  We got to have some experiences we'd never had before!  We have visited Rugby at least twice before, but NEVER hiked there!   Today we decided we'd find out where some of the trails were and do several short hikes.
We hit up the visitor centers and the rangers couldn't have been any nicer.   We got plenty of free info
on the trails. I had books at home, but I failed to bring them with me this trip.   We hiked to the Massengale Home Place.  We hiked the White Oak Branch Trail. We hiked to Gentleman's Swimming Hole.   All were good, but Gentlemans' Swimming Hole was the best. Interesting rock forms on the way there. An easy hike.  Very scenic. Lots of mountain laurel.   The river was lovely.

    We had lunch at Harrow Road Cafe which was far better than I expected!  I'd go again!
We shopped a little in a few of the stores.  It was just right for the time we had and what we wanted to involve ourselves in for the day.    We went back and got packed and on the road just ahead of the 
big thunderstorm.  We went home happy and mellow.  We did not wear ourselves out so bad this trip. Not ever trip should leave you coming home with your tongue hanging out.  :-)

Above-- we stopped by one of two river accesses we'd wanted to check out. This is the Brewster Bridge access near Rugby.  The one we still need to check out is Peters Bridge. Next go round!
There is a very nice picnic spot by this swimming hole. It looks like it seldom gets used and is practically new!

 Print shop in Rugby-- it is still operational!
 The Commissary in Rugby..
 Harrow Road Cafe.. delicious and reasonably priced. Not as stuffed shirt as I imagined either!

Massengale Home Place. A good kiosk here with lots of good info. They do guided hikes to this.
Gentleman's swimming hole... my favorite for the day.  Pink mountain laurel and bright, lime green clumps of royal fern along the river.  An easy hike!

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