Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Rainy Hike to see Mountain Camellias

Rainy Hike to See Mountain Camellias

Dana Koogler

Thursday July 2, 2015

Total round trip hike mileage 5.4 miles

Pictures are here starting with frame 86
Cane Creek Trail

    I had planned to hike several days and each time some problem seemed to arise.
I woke to rain on Thursday.  I was worn out behind it. I decided to hike in the rain.
Full throttle.   I took everything I need with me and after returning the carpet shampooer to
the Townsend IGA  I headed out to hike.    It was raining off and on, but lightly.
I was running out of time to see mountain camellias.     I went to Top of the World and hiked
in from Goldmine Gap Trail to Cooper Road and on out to the old Buchanan Cemetery along
Cane Creek Trail.    

        I did not see another soul today on my entire hike.   I stopped along Foothills Parkway on the way to the trailhead to snap a photo or two of the astonishing view out over West Millers Cove.  The rain was trying to lighten up a little bit.  
View of clouds over West Millers Cove from Foothills Parkway West

I took precious few photos today and almost none of the trail itself.  That is unusual for me.

    I'd been having an extraordinarily rough time dealing with the grief over Jenny Bennett's death.
I'd been crying for two days over it.   I was hoping getting out and getting some exercise would help.
Sitting home wasn't helping at all.     I did not tarry long or take many photos on the hike in.
I surprised myself  at how quick I arrived at each turning point along the path.  
The entire hike took me about three and one half hours. Not bad for an out of shape old lady on a very rainy day.

          On my hike in I heard the sound of splintering wood and looked up to see
three enormous trees go crashing to the ground ahead of me.   I was in no danger. They were well ahead of me and off into the woods to my right.  Two dead standing trees and one that was leafy green.   Not sure what took them down, but maybe it was a shallow root system and all that rain and wind.      I was more aware and looking about in four directions after that.

         Seven stream crossings today.  First three were easy rock hops.  Last four were over the top of the boots wades.  One right after the other.  I had my water shoes with me, but did not have time to fret with changing foot wear eight times. I said screw it and plowed through boots and all.
I'd put the water shoes on to wear home to keep from having trench foot.   The water was running high, but not to the point I was afraid to cross. I did take a moment at each place to make a mental note  where the water level was in case it had risen on my way back.  

       The trail was in horrible shape.  A big muddy quagmire replete with horse shit and post holes
where horses had stepped digging into the soft mud.   I encountered one blow down across the trail below CS #2.     It was not too bad to get around.   I was really hoping that I got to see camellias after all this trudging thru muck and getting rained on.   

             Before I knew it I was seeing the turn for the cemetery on my left. The hike flew by.
I walked up the hill and scanned the area for camellia blooms.   I didn't see them at first. The woods were dim with rain and gloom.   They were rained on and not easy to spot, but at last I caught sight
of a small white bloom in the distance.  I did find them a plenty.  Fading fast, but I entered the woods
behind the cemetery and wandered around off the trail very carefully watching where I put my feet and hands.    I still found them and was very happy I had not wasted my time.

       I stood looking out over the cemetery and I was ok.    My first cemetery since Teresa was buried this Spring.   It is a peaceful place.  It did not bother me. 
Buchanan Cemetery

Mountain Camellias on the tree.

Camellia with a purple and gold center
Stewartia ovata .. the mountain camellia . I found a few that were perfect and unharmed by rain or time. 

      I took my time but I was aware the creek levels could be coming up so I did not tarry too long.
 I began my hike back. I stopped at CS #2 and sat down. The rain had quit.  I took a snack and drink break.   I began my hike out again.   At some point along the trek back I was overcome with emotion
again and I was very glad I was alone.  I stood in the woods bawling.  I miss my friend.
I finally regained my composure and continued out.  The creeks were no worse and I just plowed through them again.  Two or three places along the way the stream and the trail are one and the same.
The water levels high enough that even had I donned my water shoes I'd have had to leave them on 
for some time before reaching a point I could change back into boots.  

         The climb up out of there was about like always. Good exercise, but gradual.
I stopped one more time on the way out at the intersection with Cooper Road trail and Goldmine Gap.
I wanted to sit down and enjoy the sun and a drink break before beginning that last climb up and out.
I sat on a log and rested and let the sun dry me some.  I prayed for serenity and that helped me 
remain quiet and calm. Thank you Lord.    

    The hike back out was uphill which was good.  On my hike in I was moving so fast and not paying attention.  I missed some things.   Go slow and look around.  I found several native orchids.
Green Adders Mouth Orchid. Very tiny and hard to spot.

Top down view of Green Adders Mouth orchid. Maxalis unifolia. It has one leaf. 

Rattlesnake orchids are coming out as well.  This one is just in bud.

    I continued my climb until I emerged back at the park boundary and then back out at the jeep.
View of the trail with the sun coming out. You can just glimpse a little blue sky.


   Today did me some good.  I hate how I am feeling some days, but grief is part of life and a natural reaction to loss.   I saw what I went to see and it was worth it. I saw even more than I hoped.
I know that in time God will help me to have the emotional wherewithal to cope with the things I'm feeling.  I pray Lord that I will not resist whatever lesson is in this and whatever change you're trying to perfect in me.  Let me move through it without resistance so that it doesn't last or doesn't have to be repeated.   

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