Sunday, July 9, 2017

Fourth of July Weekend Camping Trip 2017

Tennessee Cone Flower growing in Scott Co, TN 

Fourth of July Weekend Camping Trip 2017

Sat. July 1 through Tues. July 4th, 2017

Dana & Kenny Koogler
John Ungerer
Sharon McGee
Adam, Crystal, Michael and Tessa Lindsey

Pictures are here starting at frame 349

Happy Independence Day from Woo Hoo Holler!

   Our daughter Crystal has gone back to college for awhile. She is doing undergrad work
to get a teaching certificate for high school educators.  She has been working hard to complete
assignments and had little time for herself.  We decided one of the best ways we could help would be to kill two birds with one stone.  We would take the grandchildren camping which would fulfill a promise to them as well as give Crystal and Adam a much needed break.
Date night and some time to get school work done would take the pressure off.   We had also
wanted to get up with our friends John and Sharon.  Wanted to see John's mom, Pat again while she was up.   We got everything planned out and set in motion to go.  We left on Saturday 
morning as opposed to Friday evening.  Kenny had to work Friday and would get home 
late and tired.    

     We had all sorts of delays on the way to the campground.   The biggest delay was a leaking
trailer tire.    Kenny finally found the nail in it and was able to patch it and refill it.   We made 
it to Maple Hill and got set up.  We had a long day since the biggest part of it was travel, setup, grocery shopping, lunch, and dealing with lots and lots of rain.   It seemed like we'd no sooner get done with one meal until we had to start thinking of another one.  The first day of the trip
was a wash.  The kids were pretty good about it. We made the best of the situation by renting movies at Red Box.  We watched a couple kid friendly flicks.   Beauty and the Beast was adorable.    
 Looking downstream below Swift Ford on the East Fork River

Below: Looking at the swimming hole at Swift Ford.  It is very blue and clear. 

   The next day promised to be better.  We went over to John and Sharon's home. We visited.
I was so very glad to see them.   It was good to see Pat again.   She is a good lady.   I had planned a cookout for us.  I put chicken leg quarters in Sharon's oven to barbecue low and slow while we got outside for awhile.   We went up the river and went swimming at Swift Ford.
The river down at Woo Hoo was muddy and flowing fast.  The swimming hole up river was clear and blue.  The water comes out of a spring and is a bracing 68°  I was the only one who
went off the rope swing.   Me and Tessa were the only ones who got fully submerged.  
It was cold at first, but it didn't take long to adjust.  I love swimming in the river.  You get out and your hair smells good. Your skin feels soft and smells good.  You feel refreshed. 
 Above Michael in the inner tube. Tessa pulling him around.
Below: Tessa loves the water and swimming. She did not let the cold water keep her out.

      We went back to the house and had an early Supper.   Barbecued chicken.Corn on the cob.
Baked potatoes, rolls, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, asian slaw.  It was delicious!
We ate outside and enjoyed the clear weather and the soft evening air on the deck.  We had a wonderful time of fellowship.   It was very relaxing.  I needed this.  The children were taken with John and Sharon.  They liked Nana Pat too.   Finally we went back to the camper we were ready for bed at 9:30 pm.  The kids were sleeping in the next room so we let them stay up and watch a movie and turn it off when they were ready to sleep.  It was the Power Rangers movie.
I did not watch much of it.

     Monday we got up and had breakfast.  We went over toward Big South Fork to do a little hiking.
Crystal and Adam were to come over for a cookout, riding and swimming today.  They were going to take the kids home with them so we could have one day to do what we wanted with our friends.
We went to Devils Cave.  The hike to it is short, but you have to climb down over a rock face with
a rope and a small ladder.   We set our own rope and each of us helped one child.  The kids loved the adventure and found it all fun.  They handled it like two champs!  Going up was even easier on the return trip.  The forest was green and lush today.  It drizzled a little rain on us to begin with but quickly stopped.  The mountain camellia trees were blooming.  Both high bush and low bush blueberries were abundant along the path.  I saw a tiny bit of mountain laurel still in bloom.
Beautiful blooms of mountain camellia.  This is the third location I have found these this Summer.
   Once down over the rock we continued our downhill hike and then wound up at a rock over hang.  We worked our way through that and soon were in front of the Devils Cave entrance.  Beautif
Mist hung in the air at the mouth of the cave.   We all put on lights and got ready to enter.
The kids were very excited about it.  It was mysterious and dark and very humid inside.  Cold and
clammy are the best two descriptors I can give.

 Above: Michael posing beneath the rock house
This photo is a bit overexposed but it is the one that best shows the mist hanging in the air outside the cave entrance.

 Papaw, Tessa and Michael
 Michael spotted a red eft in the cave.

   The silvery stuff on the walls is moisture.  I am looking back at the opening. You can see one tiny spot of light.

 The cave has levels to it.  We climbed up to the second level but not all the way to the 3rd at the far back.  The mist hung so thick in the top part you could hardly see your hand in front of your face.  Kids did not want to go up that far.

Hiking back out of Devils Cave.   What fun!  

We got through our little adventure and headed back to the camper.  Crystal and Adam would soon arrive.   We wanted to be there to let them in.  It was very hot and humid, then the rain began again.  We thought of stopping at Leatherwood Ford picnic area, but the river was running high and muddy.  No fun.  Not safe.  I did stop to take pictures of the Tennessee
coneflowers in bloom along the road. 

Tennessee coneflower.. a native species.  

       Once we got back to the camper Crystal and Adam showed up shortly after. We ate lunch and got ready to go back over to Woo Hoo to swim and go four wheeling.  John and Sharon were not home they had taken Pat to the airport for her return trip.  They graciously lent us their four wheelers and access to Woo Hoo so we could enjoy a cookout with our kids.  They did not get back until around 10 p.m.  We missed them.  The river down here at this end was slightly less muddy, but we still had to drive up to Swift Ford to swim.  I went in off the rope swing and so did Adam. Everyone got in except Papaw.  Kenny doesn't like cold water and wussed out.  He is not much on swimming.
We had our fill of swimming here and loaded up to go ride the river trail.  Crystal drove our RZR and she handled it like a pro. I let her drive since she seldom get to. She loves four wheeling. It is her favorite thing.  :-)   She is good at it too.  We went up as far as the Blue Hole.  I did not get in the other swimming holes today.  I usually love swimming there, but today you could not see the bottom of the Blue Hole.  It was blue, but milky.  There is no easy way out of it either. You have to jump in or use the rope swing.  When you are ready to climb out it is an ordeal.  I felt uneasy about not being able to see bottom.    The little ones were getting tired so we headed back. We got back to the shabin and set up to cook.  Kenny and Adam grilled.  Crystal set the table. I sliced and fried potatoes on the coleman stove.  Michael lay down to rest. He was sleepy.  We had a great meal.  Barbecue chicken put back on the grill from yesterday. Corn on the cob. Fried potatoes. burgers and hotdogs.
We feasted.  Once we were full we picked up our mess and headed back to the campground.
 They kids and grandkids headed home.
 Beautiful and big moth on the steps of the shabin.
 the dining room table :-)
four wheelin fun
    Tuesday morning the 4th we had asked the campground manager if we could pack everything up, unhook it, and just let the camper sit where it was?  A later check out time so we did not have to be in such a hurry to go home? He agreed since he did not have anyone coming in that day and did not need the spot.  We quickly put the camper in readiness to depart when we got back.  We went over to meet John and Sharon to go riding for the day.   We took them on a loop ride through Big Piney Creek Gorge.  We went in reverse of how we usually go.  I had never been in that gorge during Summer.  I wanted to see what the creek levels were like. I wanted to just see the whole place. I also wanted to see what that lily was that I spotted in Spring.   I had a strong feeling Big Piney was special botanically.   So far it has proven to be in Spring.    The ride was pretty and the forest deep green.
Down in that hemlock gorge the air was misty and fresh.  Mountain camellias must all come from here. This is the birth place of them all.  I have never seen anything like it.  They were everywhere in the forest!  We saw them down in the gorge and all the way up on the return trip.
 Big Piney Creek is equally charming in Summer. It reflects back the green of the forest.
 Sharon, John and Kenny having a powwow.

Mountain camellia. The forest looked like someone was getting ready for a wedding and had chosen green and white as their colors!  It was beautiful. It smelled sweet and fresh down here.
  The creek was beautiful and had just enough water to still be flowing.  It is quiet and hushed down in that place of deep isolation.  I was thrilled to get to be here.  I know that this place has only just begun yielding up secrets and pretty treasures.   We got along fine on our ride until we tried to proceed to the next crossing.  We encountered a horrible mess of blown down trees. This trail gets very little use and we knew we'd have to find a work around or cut it out ourselves.
John and Sharon did not like the looks of the work around since it was steep.  The men set about cutting timber to clear it. It was a huge mess.  Sharon and I took off exploring.  Let them deal with it!

 Deep green gloom of a hemlock forest.   I pray they survive.
  A dark place along the stream. I love the contrast between Summer and Spring here.
 A lighter place where the forest is alive with green fire.
Above you can see the trail where you ford the creek and proceed.  Sycamore trees hung over the creek.
    We soaked up the views of the different pretty pools along the stream.  The water is so incredibly clear.  I could hear birds singing. The prettiest and loudest song was that of a wood thrush.  It is my favorite.  It is absolutely spell binding.   I had been concerned I missed the lily.  I decided to just walk along the trail and hunt.  Going along walking and talking to Sharon I looked ahead and there it was. A flash of bright red in the deep green forest.  A red bell like a fairy hat.  My lily! It was special. It was a Canada lily!  They are not rare but the further south you go the more rare they become. They are a northern species. Up Nort' they grow thick and they occur in two colors.. red and yellow.  Down here I have only seen the red ones.     I hunted for the other plants but failed to find them.

 First glimpse of the pretty Canada lily along the trail.
a look into its face

Here is a shot that illustrates the shape of the flower better.  a fairy hat!

      We went back and the men had decided that the wall of fallen trees was going to take too long to cut.  We'd have to work around the mess.   Kenny brought the RZR down past it.  He brought Sharon's machine on down.  John had a little trepidation at the steep drop off, but got on his machine and came down it like a boss!  I couldn't help myself. I was cheering!  It looks way worse when you are sitting there anticipating going down it.    We went on ahead and did not encounter any more downed trees that had to be cut.   The trail out had one bad spot where we had to figure what to do.
It was washed out from rains but it was a minor delay.   We knew the ride out would be brushy.
It was too.  It was thick with growth.  Hemlock limbs brushed my hair. I had sap and needles in my wig.   I had a worm on me at one point!   The ride out was interesting.  We saw stuff we'd not noticed before.  Extra roads leading down into the bottom of the gorge!  Two of 'em we'd not seen for a total of three.   We also spotted a large coal seam.  We want to come back with ropes and explore this part of Big Piney more fully in cold weather or next Spring.  or both!  :-)  There are two massive rock houses down in there.    It was starting to drizzle rain.
 A creek on the way out.. and possum paw fern everywhere!
 close up shot of possum paw fern one of my favorite ferns.
 Deep dark little side stream we crossed.  It is shallow and has tannins in it.
Working through the washed out part

         We finally popped out on the dirt road.  We were glad to see it, but we had a long ride back.
We could go a couple ways. We opted to risk riding Hwy 52 which is illegal for four wheelers but faster.  A straighter shot home.  We finally made it back to Boatland and turned in.    We were wet, but John and Sharon were soaked.  They put the machines away. They changed clothes and we stayed awhile longer to eat warm ups with them. It was better today than ever.  Yummy!  We were tired, but happy.  We did not want to leave.  While the meal was heating up Kenny and I took a shovel and some Wal Mart bags and dug up some ditch lilies near the house.  They are where the road crew is going to cut them down.   We got two for Sharon and two for me!   They are heirloom lilies!
Kwanso Double Ruffle Orange! I have always wanted some and now I have some!
I already planted them and they are thriving.  If they don't make it for some reason I will dig up a few more.   I think they'll be ok.  

    We hated to do it but at last we had to head back to the camper and on home.  It was such a fun visit.  I plan to get back to see my sweet friends sooner rather than later.  They'll either come here or I'll go there.   I love them and I'm thankful to have them. <3 It was a great weekend.
Kwanso Double Ruffle Orange lily!  so pretty and so old!

Below is a short video of Big Piney Creek and the song of a thrush     

**Notes to self** Go back down in Big Piney next Spring and walk it from the last ford all the way down to the Obey.  
Also go down in the side gorge on the upper end.. and check out the waterfalls. Take ropes a plenty.
Explore the rock houses this Winter. or early spring before snakes are out.

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