Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Rich Mountain Trail

Glancing back down Rich Mtn Trail you can just see the road down there.

Rich Mountain Trail--Leap Day Hike

Dana Koogler solo


Monday February 29, 2016

4 miles RT


   I wanted to hike Monday, but I only wanted to do a short one and something close to the house.
I had chores to attend to and business phone calls I had to make.  I figured I'd go right after lunch.
I had Rich Mountain Trail on my mind since it had been years since I hiked it.  It is accessed by driving back into Dry Valley to the park boundary.   It is not a real dramatic trail, but I figured since it was Winter it would have some nice views.  The trail narrative describes "cascades" along it. 
It got the one part right. It is odd hiking from a dry area UP into a creek bottom. It says the hike seems "upside down" because it is the reverse of what is usually found.   I knew I had seen that little
cascade on Hesse Creek before. I remembered thinking back then it was not any 10 ft tall as the book 
speculated.   I figured closer to 3 1/2 to 4 feet max.    Still I figured while I was going I'd go up far as the campsite. I'd pass that area and grab a few more recent photos of the one little water feature along the way.   I debated did I want to turn the hike into a loop and hit up Indian Grave Gap and walk the road back to my vehicle?  I would decide when I got there.   I checked out my map that is mounted on the wall at home.  It has the trails I have completed highlighted.  It showed Indian Grave Gap completely filled in with orange marker.  I have done it, but I only remember parts of it.  It must not have been too eventful.   

             I saw one other car at the trailhead when I parked to begin my hike.  The trailhead is
100 yards up Rich Mountain Road and the gate that closes it off in Winter.  Up and up I climbed.
It is all uphill to the campsite but it is a good, gradual work out.  Nothing too sudden or extreme.
The views were indeed pretty.  The sun was shining. I was in shirt sleeves.  I had a light pack.
I was feeling pretty groovy.   The air was fresh and clean and I savored the scent of pine and dried oak leaves.   Now and then I got a whiff of the sweetest scent but I could not figure where it was coming from.    A short distance up the trail I heard something rattling around in the leaves on the slope to my left.   I figured a deer, but something made me stop and take a look. It sounded too big to be a deer. It was a big male black bear rumbling and grumbling and digging for bugs and grubs on the slopes of the mountain.   I was wondering did I want to bother trying to sneak the camera out of my pack and get photos of him?  I figured by the time I did he'd have run off.   He must have heard or smelled me because he sat up and took notice and ran like thunder!  Git on outta hyere! I hollered.
Dickie Bradley Jr. All mountain men have that holler they use to throw up the window at night and bellow at their coon dogs or the neighbors dogs to get them to shaddup!  

               

Sunshine felt mighty good today. 


 One of the prettier views framed by pines. Looking toward Cades Cove.
I always love the look of the trails when they are lined with that neon green moss! It just shimmers! 

Though my photo here doesn't show it very well I took this because below me is a real scooped out bowl in the land. It feels neat to stand on the trail and see the mountains off in the distance and the land curve below you. 


  I took a few minute rest at the park boundary. There is a spot where you can start to see off the other side of the mountain into Dry Valley.  I sat down and ate a quick snack and drank some water.  I got up to continue.  I noticed below me a wide road about fifteen feet below the level of the trail.  
I don't recall seeing that before.   I rambled on up the trail. I saw a downy woodpecker and a pileated woodpecker.  Trails with lots of pine trees are good places to see them.  They need pines for their nests.   The forest was quiet except for the breeze now and then which I was grateful for on my climb. One thing about climbing......... as you gain elevation you do get cooler air and it helps when you are exerting yourself.
The little sit down spot to rest and refresh.  The old road was below this. 
       
   I knew from where I took my little break I didn't have that far to go to reach my final destination.
I could now hear Hesse Creek below me to my right as it flowed down the mountain.   It helped spur me on in my progress.   I finally got up there and at one point could hear a cascade, but I sure couldn't see it.  I don't know why I am ever surprised at rhododendron and how fast it grows and obscures things from view.   I hoped I was mistaken and had just not come to the cascade yet.  I decided I would go on toward the camp site and surely I'd run into it yet.  It was not the case.  I crossed over the little stream that flows over the trail.  I went on ahead.  

Tiny stream as you get closer to the campsite. 


            I finally turned around and headed back down the trail.  I have never been a big fan of CS #5, but it is not too bad. Just not that appealing.   I was having to admit that I wasn't going to magically see the little cascade somewhere else. It was down there in the rhodo where I heard it.  I started back in that direction.  I would climb down through that mess and see what it was like now?

Looking up at the sun through the gloom in the mountain gap where CS 5 sits.  I always remember this view for some reason.  





Lamentations!  
I sat my butt down here by the trail to ponder before entering this tangle to find the little cascade.
It seems to help me to let a Curtis Travis style whine before going in. Whose idea was this anyway?  I didn't sign up for this!   It was my idea? Oh.  Ok then.  

   Down through the rhodo she went like a D9 bulldozer.  It wasn't far down there to the little cascade and it did tickle me to see that it was still there looking like I remembered it.  
Pitiful, but its the only one around.  You have to take it as it comes.    

Hesse Creek Cascade
4 1/2 feet high.  And I checked below this.  There is nothing else visible except a trickle and some more blown down trees and rhodo and doghobble.  




This is looking back in the direction of the trail.You can see light, but you sure can't see the trail.  

   
Below is a short video clip of it.  In case you don't want to climb down in there to see it for yourself.



          I started my hike back out.  I ran into only one other hiker. He was heading up the mountain as I was coming down.  Another local getting some exercise and enjoying the day.  I did see a couple things on the way out which I did not pay attention to on the way in. mine pits!  One of them made my skin crawl just thinking about getting near it. The sink hole woman......... but she didn't want any part of that.  There was one on either side of the trail in a particularly rocky stretch.


             Down down down to the jeep.  A very mellow afternoon drive home to supper all ready in the crock pot.   One of those days I feel especially blessed to live where I do.

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