Monday, February 29, 2016

Off Trail With Ma & Pa-- Scouting Sugar Cove Branch and Gourley Ponds

Off Trail With Ma & Pa-- Scouting Sugar Cove Branch and Gourley Ponds

Thursday Feb. 18, 2016

Distance hiked 2.5 miles approx. all off trail.

     I had wanted to explore behind Kermit Caughron's old place.  I had wanted to spend time with my adopted parents Bobbie and Ron Hubbard aka Ma & Pa.     I had wanted to learn the old wagon roads back into Sugar Cove Branch.   We figured they'd show me the starts of it and then Kenny and I could come back and find out how well it worked and how tough it would be.
How much further to the falls? Maybe they would go that far in the future if it was not too bad.

          We met at the Townsend Wye Thursday morning.  It was sure good to see them and spend time with them.   We had a lot of fun.   We worked our way back through the terrain behind the Dan Lawson place.   They showed me the traces of the old wagon road. They showed me old home sites.  We saw lots of quartz stone littering the ground in a few places.  
Ma was telling the truth that there was a rough spot of rhodo and blown down trees.  We struggled through that.   The ground back there is full of springs and boggy places. 

             We finally made it through that stuff and managed to cross Cades Branch.
Ma said she thought we were crossing too soon and she was right. It was only about 100 yards too soon, and it ended up not being a big deal.  The return trip we crossed near where the old wagon road came down to the branch.  It was a MUCH better crossing with less vegetation, flatter, and shallower.   We found where the second leg of the wagon road continues toward Whistling Gap. We passed another chimney pile and tater hole of a homestead on the left.
The woods were far more open now and so pretty! The day was warming up and it was a sunny, bluebird day!   We were all happier that the forest was more open and easier walking for us.  We had no problems following the old wagon road now. It was a deep rut or trench in some places.  
Eventually where it got  near to the headwaters springs of Whistling branch it got a lot harder to see.

            They pointed out to me where a foot path took off to the left of the old wagon road.
This was where I was supposed to follow it and head back into the Sugar Cove.    We scoured around a little while looking for another home site without success. The forest is pretty open back there, but there were lots of downed trees.   We headed back.  Our return trip was far easier and we avoided some of the rough spots on the second part.    Back at the Lawson place we ate lunch and visited.
It was a glorious good day and so nice to be with them. 

             We wrapped up our day going on to see the Gourley Ponds.
The first one.. the big one is dry.  The little one has water in it.   UT is doing some sort of research back in there.   We found but did not disturb five gallon buckets buried in the ground around the pond.   There is a silt fence up around one side of the pond.   It was very pretty.   We thought we'd found another home site, but Ma said she believes is it just a rock pile.  No lintels or signs that it was ever a chimney.   We wrapped up our day by not leaving out a key element..... wandering!
We went in the woods on a rudimentary path, but came out about 50 ft to one side of it.  
We had circled and been briefly "lost".  That made the day complete!   I had a great time.  We talked of coming Spring and wildflower secrets and things we had to check out this Spring!
Something to look forward to!

 Little Gourley Pond with water.
 Ma taking photos.
 Pa grinning for the camera.
 Ma doing her thing!
 some sort of amphibian eggs in the pond near the edge.
Mossy green rock cairn. 


  1. Dana, I just got an email yesterday from Dave Ledbetter who hiked to Becky Sugar Cove. Those are those home places I showed you on my map above the falls. He said it was an UGLY hike up there. I still want to do it "one of these days." But he went in like I did from Forge Creek Road. If I go back there again I want to go up the right side of the creek to the falls and see what it looks like from that side.

  2. I might be ok to go again now that I have been once. It was terrifying to me. The ridges up there are hip high some sort of little sticker bushes. Not too bad, but not fun. I think I'm done with it. Kenny has promised to get me back to Mill Creek Falls and we'll just try to turn aside to Sugar Cove Falls on the way there or back from it. Just about at my limit.


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