Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Camping at Maple Hill RV Park & Cabins & Exploring

New York Ironweed close up

Camping at Maple Hill RV Park & Cabins & Exploring

Friday Sept. 25 thru Monday Sept. 28, 2015

Dana & Kenny Koogler

John Ungerer & Sharon McGee

Pictures are here beginning with frame 258
Camping @ Maple Hill & Exploring

   After last weekend and the week that followed we were more than ready for a get away.
Sick grandkids.   Last weekend's bummer bee sting bomb-out excursion.  During the week I 
washed the dust of Cataloochee off the jeep and in the process fell and busted my back up.
Kenny called from work and said we needed to get away and go camping. He was going to be working the next several weekends so we'd best go while we could.    We left out Friday evening and did not return until Monday evening.  

       We planned for things that would be fun during a dry time of year.   Some suggestions for
what to see during the dry times of Autumn?
  • Arches
  • Caves
  • Overlooks with great views
  • Rivers
  • springs
  • firetowers
  • historic sites
  • waterfalls that tend to have water on them year round. (Harder to find in the Cumberland Plateau, but not impossible)           

        I told John this weekend that one of the things that helps me break out of a spell of general 
malaise and boredom with hiking to repeat places is taking someone to see it for the first time.
We went down through Lost Cane and we have been many times a few weeks ago. It still was worth pointing out to John and Sharon where the waterfalls would flow during times when the river trail is flooded and unfordable.  

               We got set up on Friday evening at Maple Hill RV Park. I went over to speak to Betty & Klaas for a few minutes.  I then went down to John & Sharon's cabin to visit a few minutes and let them know we had arrived.   We discussed what the next day would involve since they had to meet with their contractor about house building.  We planned to do something short that would have us heading back in the direction of Jamestown so that we could meet up with them once they were done.
It worked out pretty well.

        Saturday morning after breakfast we headed out toward Devil's Cave and the East Rim Overlook.     We figured after that we'd hit up Pogue Creek and hike there and perhaps John & Sharon could join us.    We stopped by the East Rim Overlook first then went on from there to Devil's Cave.  The two primary things I wanted to see on this trip were 1. Devils Cave and 2. East Fork Obey falls.    East Rim Overlook was pretty. Not really any Fall colors yet, but pretty.

View from East Rim Overlook

       The hike out to Devils Cave was interesting.  It involves one small section of rope and a step.
 Out across a rocky ledge covered in pines and reindeer moss.

Down off the bluff on a rope!

 Devils Cave Opening
Inside the upper level of Devils Cave. It feels like being inside the rib cage of an ancient, huge beast!

Top image:  Ruins of an old moonshine still
Bottom image:  metal barrel and nearby a metal pipe. Also remnants of the still.

Below is a video of what it is like to be inside Devil's Cave

        We  hiked back out of Devils Cave and headed to the parking area.  We had seen no one else on the trails or at the overlook thus far.  We encountered four persons on our way back.  We realized it was getting on toward lunch so we stopped by Leatherwood Ford and ate.  We then headed back toward Jamestown.   We ended up meeting John & Sharon at Pogue Creek. They had already hiked it.
They went to look for the dark sky sight for viewing the eclipse later in the weekend.  We stuck around thinking we'd hike Pogue Creek.   A glance at the kiosk ruined our interest in it.  We wanted to see arches and this trail only goes to an overlook.  The arches and landforms are clear across on the Delk Creek side.   We opted to find something else to do.  We headed toward Pickett State Park and pretty soon encountered our friends heading back our way.   They had not eaten yet so we found a store where they got lunch.   We decided to head to Horn Dog arch after that.


Leatherwood Ford

Pogue Creek parking area with loads of goldenrod growing.  It smelled wonderful there!

  We all headed down the road toward Clarkrange to see this other arch.   I had directions and instructions from a friend.    We stopped to ask permission to park and walk which is when I met Karl.    He's a good guy and a new friend.   His little boys were out in the yard playing. They are very cute.     He was happy to help us and even drew me a map!  We did not execute the arch finding perfectly.  John and Kenny were on Team 1 and Sharon and myself on Team 2. They scored on this round. They found it first.  They went one way. We went another. I had to take Sharon on a snipe hunt for tricking me into eating four month old bread. Yes she did, but that's ok.. I got her back! ;-)  
It was fun and worth it.   
 "horn dog" glyph beneath the arch
 "basket" glyph beneath the arch
 John, Sharon & Kenny inspecting the arch site.

 A look back under Horndog Arch.  

     We finally headed back out of here and toward the cars.  It was such a pretty day, but it did rain a few drops on us.  We were all hot and tired and ready for a shower.  We headed back toward the campground. We had planned to get cleaned up, fix supper, eat a meal together and visit.  
That is what we did and it was a nice relaxing evening of catching up with our friends.    Barbecue chicken on the grill, corn on the cob, salad with homemade dressing by Sharon, cheesy garlic bread by Sharon, sweet tea, wine, fried potatoes, sliced cantaloupe for dessert.  Yum!  

 The office at Maple Hill RV Park & Cabins.  Betty & Klaas DeJong's business and home is here on this place and it is one of our favorites.  They have become friends to us as well as proprietors.

      Kenny's red truck and our Eagle camper.  Maple Hill is an excellent place to stay. We've been coming here for three or four years now! It is our home away from home!

            We went to bed very tired in preparation for a day of four-wheeling.  I made myself use the heating pad for 15 minutes or so each night on that ugly bruise on my back. I was trying to heal it up fast and supple up the muscles in my back where I fell.  It was helping. I could tell each day the pocket of fluid on my left flank was shrinking.    I hurt a little less each day. My back was itching like mad where the bruise was healing.   We slept well and just had cereal and coffee for breakfast rather than launch into the big bacon & eggs breakfast.  Neither of us wanted that mess after the huge supper we had the night before.  

                     Today we planned to ride the River Trail since the water was down just right.
Enough water to be pretty. Hints of Autumn color coming.   Perfect temperatures. We ended up with blue skies and sunshine. It was just right.    We'd try for the East Fork Obey Falls today.   We rode all the way from Boatland to Wilder.   We stopped by Sharon & John's place first to get their machines and check the river levels.   The beach at Woo Hoo was beautiful.   The river clear and sparkling and the sycamore tree overhanging the river with its leaves turning golden brown.   We stopped by some of the favorite spots like the Blue Hole on the ride. 
Blue Hole

This spring is a strong source of water for the East Fork river. We stopped here later in the day so John could see it for the first time.  This is why their property always has water in that part of the river.   Parts of the river completely dry up.

                 We made it up the river at last and pulled off at the side of the road to bushwhack down to try to locate East Fork Obey Falls.  Jeff was nice enough to provide me with directions.  We had the waypoint, but our previous attempt bombed out.    Today's trip would be successful!    We did find it and it went smoother than I'd expected. Kenny lead the way and he was on it.   We had no problems.

East Fork Obey Falls. Low water but it is still pretty. It runs year round at least.   The water runs out from between layers of rock here.  It appears to be under some pressure.  The river above was low water and below here the water goes back into the ground at a swallet.

Above is a short video made from various vantage points around the falls this trip.
It shows it better than I can describe.    I was thrilled at having finally gotten to see this spot.
I was also pleased to be having a much better weekend than last.
We finally wrapped up our visit and began our hike back to the four-wheelers.
Up up up much of the way.   It was hot and humid out there on those bright white river rocks!
We stopped to eat lunch in the shady woods and get something cold to drink before we
headed out.

         We went back the way we came and encountered many other folks going four wheeling!
It was like a party down there at the river!  We went up to Hoodtown to the overlook since John & Sharon had never been. It was beautiful as always.

Hoodtown Overlook.. What a stunning view of the terrain!

    We enjoyed the view but then went back down toward the river. We ran into the large group of friends who were down at river level waiting on Jeremy and his RZR which had acted like it was overheating.    We visited with them and really hit it off.  They were all very nice.  We met Austin Brown, Ruben Hilligoss, Noah Hilligoss, and in a few minutes Jeremy Stephens and his girlfriend Brittany caught up too.  We all chatted and exchanged stories and info. Excellent visit.  Everyone we met today save one person...... was very cool.   The not so nice one will not be named, but it was nothing personal against us. He is ugly acting toward everyone as we learned from the other riders we spoke with during the day.

 Beautiful East Fork River down in Hoodtown
 Ruben, John, Sharon, Kenny, Austin & Noah
Jeremy and Brittany in the RZR, back end of John's grizzly, and Ruben's Samurai!

     We headed back in the direction of the shabin at Woo Hoo. The day was growing long and riding the river trail wears you out because it is rocky.  Long ride!  We were hot and sweaty and ready to be done.   We went back and got cleaned up and started dinner.  We had a little impromptu Blood Moon Eclipse party out under the skies! It was great.  Italian food and friends.   Betty made apple dumplings which were great!  Finally got to meet Rick & Loreal.. they have been friends with John & Sharon for awhile now.   The night was cloudy but we still got to view the eclipse and the blood moon!   Everyone finally wound down and went to bed.    What a great weekend!

          Our final day we visited with John & Sharon over coffee very briefly in the morning.
We went on our own to attempt to locate a little falls Lathern had told me about on Little Crab.
We also wanted to visit Tar Gap if we could.  Monday turned out to be the only "unsuccessful" day.
We did not find the falls on Little Crab, but we also did not look real hard.   We made two tries at Tar Gap from different directions and were thwarted each time.   Downed trees. Gobs of spiders and spider webs.   Hunters out trying to enjoy bow season and us not wanting to be rude.  It was not in the cards this trip. The trail has washed out and was badly eroded in places.   We were extremely glad we did not ask John & Sharon to involve themselves in this frustrating mess.   We finally gave up and headed back to Maple Hill.  We ate some lunch and packed up to head home.    All in all a great weekend for which I have zero complaints!


  1. Glad you had a better weekend. Looked fun to me. I been meaning to ask you if you are familiar with ATV trails in Blount County.

    1. Mike, Thanks. It was indeed a better weekend and a lot of fun. I am somewhat familiar with the ATV trails of Blount co. There aren't many still rideable thanks to the private land owners and the gummint. I know you've been peak bagging. I have some familiarity with Tallassee and with Chilhowee Mtn.


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