Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Last Day of Camping at Davy Crockett Campground-- Athawominee/ Bledsoe State Forest/Little Falls

Trout lily blooming in Bledsoe State Forest

Last Day of Camping and Exploring

Dana & Kenny Koogler

Monday April 10, 2017

Pictures are here starting with frame 568
(Not all the photos were taken in Bledsoe SF but most were)

Monday Morning 

   We had taken a nice long weekend and had a Monday to add on to our exploring.
It was a great feeling to wake knowing we did not have to hurry home. One more day to play.
We got our meals and chores done quickly around the camper so we could get going.
We planned to explore several areas today to satisfy our curiosity about them. It feels good
to finally do what we have talked about for so long.  We discussed do we take the RZR or leave it behind?  Invariably if we do not take it we end up regretting it. On the down side.. it can make finding parking a real pain. It can also end up being a lot of trouble for nothing.
It can attract the kind of attention you don't want. We also risk having it stolen when parked and hiking out away from it.    We recently made it road legal for Tennessee.  You have to add a horn, brake lights, signal lights and get it tagged for either low speed or moderate speed roads.  The fee is not expensive, but the additions can be especially if  you are not a do-it-yourselfer.
I have posted a link to a write up on what it entails.  

  We finally decided we'd take it and use it because we'd have the truck.  The last time we tried the roads through Bledsoe State Forest we had my jeep and thank goodness! The road we traveled was red dirt, slick, had branches encroaching and scraping the sides of the vehicle. It went out across a pasture field and ended up at a prison!  Another place we planned on trying to park later in the day  would not be good for the truck. It would scratch the paint off the sides.  We loaded up and started down the interstate.  We had not gone far when  we felt 
an odd shimmy.   Kenny looked in his side mirror to see what was wrong. I looked in mine and could see chunks of  rubber flying off one of the trailer tires. I told him to pull over right away.    We were within sight of the Crossville exit.  We pulled over and he put on the spare.
I loaded the flat into the back of the truck. I went round and looked at the opposite tire which was ok at the moment. I had misgivings though. We had no more spare tires. What if the other trailer tire blew?  I looked up tire places and ended up calling Wal-Mart tire center which was closest.  They put the new tire on the rim and it was $97.  Our plans were delayed 
about an hour, but the day was saved.  


   The first place we visited was a rock formation in Bledsoe County. I am calling it Athawominee which is the name it was given by the friend who shared the directions.  It is
not on the data base.  I had noticed some cool photos from a trip this friend took to this spot.
I asked about it and he was reticent to share the knowledge.  He is usually very helpful and we trade info back and forth. I respected his right to hang on to his secrets.  One day I happened upon an interesting feature on a map of Bledsoe County. I posted a question  asking if anyone knew what in the sam hill it was?  The name was interesting, but the spot on the map looked ordinary.  He pinged me  letting me know that I had happened upon his special spot.  I had found Athawominee.  Since I found it on the map he shared the directions with the caveat that I not blab the location.  It is fairly pristine and it would be nice to keep it that way.  The name 
means "place where they go armed". It refers to the great Indian war path. 

       We found it and pulled over to walk into the woods to check it out. 

Here is Kenny among the boulders.

Sun shines down into the boulders

Looking straight up
Balanced rocks
 Kenny in the middle of a four way intersection. This place is massive and very cool!

On the other side of the four way.  Wow! 
I am not naming the person who told us how to get here, but he knows who he is. 
Thanks friend! You da best! 

Kenny in one of the cracks ahead of me.

  We spent some time exploring the formation. It was fun and very interesting.  We finally wrapped up our visit here and went back to the truck. We went onward to our next destination.  It was a good thing too since it took us a minute to get oriented.  

Bledsoe State Forest 

   I had always wondered about Bledsoe State Forest when I'd pass the signs or see it on the map.  Kenny was also curious about it.  After my "short cut" lead us into such a funny, pretty adventure a couple years back we were sure we needed to go explore the state forest and learn more about it. Be warned if I take a short cut it will get us lost, but no worries we'll find civilization again. The only problem is it will come out at a prison!  All roads lead to jail when it comes to me.  Hal Wilson was right. I have the soul of a convict. 

You're Never Lost As Long as You're Somewhere You Wanna Be! 

   Yep. Truth.  It is one of KT's missives, but it remains relevant. Trying to find your way BACK to where you were lost presents its own set of problems!  No one ever thinks about wanting to return to where they were lost. Only we would do something dumb like that.   We tried ciphering it out by using a map and backtracking from where we came out. We did not want to go IN that way. We wanted to go back round the way we went in before. We finally figured it out.  We pulled over, parked at a wide spot and ate lunch. We were both hangry. Once we had some brain fuel in us we could think more clearly. We started out.  Later we would come to realize what mixed us up even more than usual. The road has been graded, graveled, and the 
original entrance moved!  It cut off a big corner and some landmarks! No wonder we struggled more than usual!  

      We passed a forest ranger and a few vehicles.  We passed a couple on horses.  
We came to the first place we really liked that was familiar.  We have learned it is called Old Rocky Ford.   It is where Newton Lane crosses Bee Creek. It is near the confluence of Bee Creek and Little Cane Creek.     Bee Creek is a pretty stream. The water is that pretty aquamarine color most of the time.  I have decided in my mind that is the official color of the Cumberland Plateau.  The maple trees were sporting their bold red buds. Oak trees were showing their bronze early leaves.  Hemlock trees dotted the stream bank with deep greens.
We crossed the stream and enjoyed the scenery and the splash through the water.  
Old Rocky Ford.. the road goes right through the creek! What's not to love? 

Bee Creek in Spring. Looking downstream from Old Rocky Ford 

  Once we crossed the creek we turned left down a side trail. It is just a rutted old dirt track that heads upstream along Bee Creek.  It is very pretty. Lots of bright yellow trout lilies bloomed on either side of the trail.   Rue anemone, wild geranium, and a few blue violets bloomed there also.  Wood anemone was seen here also.  The trail ends at a camp site with a pretty swimming hole and rope swing.   It goes uphill to the right but dead ends at some rocks.

Trail heading to the camp site by Bee Creek. 

Bee Creek rope swing and swimming hole!

  Once we'd seen what was down this path we headed back to the main road through the forest. 
We had passed a couple side paths on the way out before the ford.  We decided that any side paths we'd go out on  the way back.   We'd just go out them as we came to them.  We followed Newton Lane what turned out to be a short distance until we got to where the road is back to red dirt and crosses the edge of the pasture field.   Knowing that from here on out there wasn't much to see and we were nearing the dreaded prison..... we turned around.   The first side trail lead to another camp site.  It is in a hemlock grove and very shady.  It sits by Bee Creek but this part of it looks like a lake. It appears Beavers have dammed up part of it.   It looks like folks use it to paddle canoes and fish.  It is real pretty.  
 Hemlock forest and camp site
 Bench by the stream

 Steps leading down to the water. Very neatly done!  

   We enjoyed the look at the water and the forest.  We kept going until we crossed the ford again and came to the next side trail.  We went down it and finally came to downed trees across the trail.  It did not appear this trail lead anywhere good so Kenny opted to turn around and head back to the main road.   I later learned we should have cut them out and kept going! Oldfield Lake is down there! We'll have to check that out next time over there.  
I am underlining stuff that is meant to be reminders for subsequent trips.   The next side path was Old Scotts Gulf Road.  It was ok, but nothing great. If there is anything real good down it we did not see it.   We also turned and went out  what ended up being Bledsoe Park Road.
It goes past someone's house.  Not much to see out there.  Going that way did take us across a ford of Little Cane Creek which was quite pretty.  
Ford of Little Cane Creek under the hemlocks. So pretty!

   I wanted to try to see the Glade Creek and Braddens Creek area, but did not know how to access it. Kenny was not in the mood to spend all day trying to figure it out.  We'd already done a lot of finagling trying to find stuff.  He wanted to get going to see something more.   We loaded up and headed toward Spencer.  We thought we'd hike back in to see Sullivan Creek Falls and Laurel Creek Falls.   We had no idea how the rest of the day was going to deteriorate.

Balancing the Universe--- We Done Let the Deal Go Down

    I am a dark minded someone at times.  My sense of metaphysics and humor are warped.
The way life has been in the past decade I have developed a new philosophy.  Only so many angels can dance on the head of that pin we call life.  One too many and things crumble. 
We must have added one too many today.   Once things go along too well for a bit.. something will always happen to restore order to the Universe.  Some devils with pitch forks will come and start jabbing at us to keep things even.   


       Sullivan Creek Falls Access Update--Devil #1 

   We pulled in to the area where we were to park and walk to the falls.  It is off Hwy 30 west of Spencer.  We found that it is badly overgrown with briars still.   Someone has been picking up some of the trash.  A strand of barbed wire is strung across the road.  They have also felled seven trees across it.  One right after another.  It would not be impossible get in there on foot.  All of it taken together made us feel unwelcome and uneasy.   I expect it has to do with trying to keep out the litter bugs more than anything, but we decided if they went to those lengths to keep out intruders we would not go.   Another reason is that while I do not think they'd care if we walked to the falls they might care about folks riding ATVs back there.
We were not riding, but if you happened to have one in tow that can give folks the wrong idea.  
We left and decided to go see Little Falls.  We would wrap up our day after that and go back to the camper.    We'd get cleaned up and go out to eat in Cookeville.   

              Little Falls Access Update  Devil #2

    We knew from the trip where Jay and I tried to hike to Little Falls via the Turkey Scratch Road trail head that we needed to go round the other side.  Chuck Sutherland told us that the access was now from the Little Falls Road trail.  We went in that way and as we neared the back where we should park it was apparent that a lot has changed.  TVA is back there putting in power lines.  The road has been graveled.  The entire area around the trailhead has been torn up.   We had never hiked in from this side so we were unsure what to do.   I got out and looked.
The GPS said the falls was 0.2 miles away.  We decided to set  off in that direction using a path near the truck.  It got us there, but that was not the real path.  Little Falls is a sixty foot waterfall that was flowing great today and looking beautiful.   It is on public land deeded to Van Buren County by Maurice "Judge" or "Peckerwood" Taft.   It drops over a rock amphitheater.
I am happy to say someone has done a clean up and all the old tires and trash are gone from the area at the base of the falls!  It looks good.  We hiked back out on the real trail.  There are several small but attractive cascades above Little Falls that you see as you walk along here.  
Little Falls minus old tires! 

    Once you pass the cascades you are out in the power line cut.  They have created a stream buffer using wood chips that go all the way up to the road.  We followed the obvious spot where folks were trampling down through that to the trail and the falls.  It was a short, steep, uphill climb, but then we were back at the truck and done.    So if you go to Little Falls just remember
to park near the power line and go down the power line cut through the wood chips. You'll see the creek at the bottom of the hill.  Turn left and in 100 feet you'll be at the falls.    Greg Plumb's directions say the hike is 0.4 miles one way.  Thanks to the disruptions of the road and hike it is now 0.2 miles one way.   

               Last But Not Least... Devil #3

   We  got in the truck and prepared to leave.   The truck started, but then died. It refused to turn over anymore.    Kenny fooled with it and kept trying to get it started.   It was not going to budge.    We seldom have vehicle trouble so it is upsetting and surprising when we do.  Despite everything Kenny tried it was not working.   He called Jason. He called Adam. He tried the diagnostic run by one of the devices he has installed.   I got out a book and began to read and eat a snack.  I was just trying to remain calm and cool and not do anything to set him off.
He was angry at the situation and very upset.   Long story short he talked to Jason again who suggested he uninstall the Bully Dog chip and see if that was causing problems?  Kenny did that and waited and it would not start.   I finally had enough and said he needed to call a tow truck.
He got to work on that.  It wasn't easy finding someone who could tow a Duramax Diesel towing a trailer and a RZR 1000.   At last he found someone named Damien who tows for Ed Rogers car dealership and got him on the way.   For whatever reason he tried getting the truck to crank one more time.  I was in the process of putting stuff in my backpack to take in the wrecker.  The truck fired to life and we were both gaping in surprise!  We jumped in and closed the doors and took off out of there.   I got out to close the gate and latch it for TVA. 
Kenny called to try to stop Damien from making a wasted trip. He was already at the Dollar General along Hwy 111.   We stopped and Kenny paid him for a service call and we both thanked him.  He went out the road with us as we headed back toward Cookeville so if we broke down again he could stop.     No more problems thankfully, but we'd had a plenty by then.     Kenny still wanted to go out to eat. I did not. I just wanted to go be quiet and safely back at our home away from home.  He went to grab some fast food. I went to the camper and got cleaned up and ate warm ups and read a book and watched tv.   

                      We left Tuesday morning early because Kenny had to be back in Maryville at the surgery center for a pre op visit.  He had gall bladder surgery scheduled the next day! 
At least we did not have anymore vehicle trouble and he made it in time to get his surgery.
What a weekend.  Good. Bad. Everything in between.  

Below is a short video of Little Falls.  

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