Sunday, December 27, 2015

Jump Jam with the Grandkids on Wednesday

Tessa "driving" Papaw's big crane

Jump Jam with the Grandkids on Wednesday

Wednesday Dec. 23, 2015

Dana & Kenny Koogler
Michael and Tessa Lindsey

Jump Jam Web Site

   Grandchildren have been out of preschool and school since Dec. 18th.   I am usually the one who
looks after them since I retired.   Kenny had several vacation days from work he needed to use or lose.  He took off from work and we planned to take them to Jump Jam trampoline park in Knoxville.
We had never been there before and wanted to try it.  The rainy weather made it even more appealing.   We went for 1 1/2 hours on Wednesday morning.   It was great and a good value. 
$ 12 per kid for  and hour and a half of jumping and playing.   In the warm and dry while it rains outdoors.   Money well spent.   They loved it. We loved it and will go back soon.   It is a nice family environment to play. I would have lost my ever loving mind had someone taken me to this place when I was a child.   They played hard and wore themselves out!  Coolest day ever.  Massive Nanny and Papaw points!   We went by Kenny's work at Barnhart Crane & Rigging afterwards for him to pick up his check and for them to get to see his work and his crane.  They liked that too.  
Charlie the boxer dog was there.   Billy gave Michael and Tessa candy and suckers and visited with us.   They liked all of it except for the dog.  Tessa was afraid of the dog, but the rest of us liked her.
We finished our day off with lunch at Pizza Inn of Oak Ridge.  Another great place that they loved!
Great service. Great food.  Inexpensive. Fast.   We'll be back there too!

Kids went home worn out, ready for a nap and with full tummies.  

 Michael in Papaw's big crane in the back cab.
 Michael at Jump Jam age 6
 Non Union Scabs in Papaw's crane.
Tessa at Jump Jam. age 2

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Rock Castle Gorge and Other Places........ and Birthdays!

Hepatica blooming in December near Rainbow Falls and Pit

Visit to Friends in Jamestown for Fun & Birthdays

Friday Dec. 11 -Monday Dec. 14, 2015

Dana & Kenny Koogler
Sharon McGee, John Ungerer
Klaas & Betty DeJong

Pictures are here: 

    We had scheduled a trip for a pre-Christmas get away.  Kenny wanted to use up some remaining vacation days before he lost them.   We made reservations to rent the studio cabin at Maple Hill RV Park & Cabins.    We would not have to haul the camper which would be less work for Kenny. 
We would do a combination of four-wheeling, visiting, and hiking.   I had a list of potential places
we wanted to see. Many of them included finally getting John & Sharon back to see places we had told them about, but as yet they had not visited.   

     I had an appointment Friday morning at 10:15 am for my doctor visit for a yearly physical.
I had already rescheduled it once because we had made plans to go out of town to play.    I was not about to do it a second time.    I took Michael to school and afterwards I came home and finished packing.    I made it to my doctor visit and got a good report on my health.   My blood work, vital signs and everything was great.  I am healthy.   I was home at about 11:45 or so.   We finished packing the truck and off we went.   We stopped for lunch on the way over.  It was about 2:30 pm when we arrived.  We checked in with Betty and Klaas at their house and visited.  John & Sharon showed up next and we all talked and laughed.     We got checked into the cabin and Betty reacquainted me with how that all went. We had only rented the cabin once before and I could not recall everything about it.    It was simple and easy.

          I wanted to try to squeeze in one activity this afternoon before the sun went down.  
We headed out to try to visit Magendanz Falls before sundown since it was not far off.   It was over in Allardt.    Sharon had said she wondered if we'd have enough daylight to do it?  I believed we would,but I don't accurately gauge the sunset in the central time zone in Winter.   It gets dark fast.
We pulled into the first spot we thought we might hike to the falls. It was a different spot than we had ever tried before.   Parking along here was not going to be a problem, but it was not great. 
Before us lay a huge thicket of briars, brambles, and scrubby undergrowth.    Kenny refused to go through it.  We went back to the power line we had approached before. We'd hike in from there and make a turn where the track from the first spot today came down to meet it.   We found the gate locked and chained.  Additionally it had fresh signage POSTED. NO TRESPASSING right on it.
It is a power line easement so I doubt they can legally do any of that, but it was not a good indication.
It was getting dark very fast.   Kenny said we'd have to do something else.  I suggested we go down the road and visit Mountain View Arch and Falls.   That is what we ended up doing.   I was feeling rather negative and expected to find access barred.  Thankfully it was not.

            We did find the very back part of the old abandoned golf course gated, but no matter.
It was a very short walk round there to where the arch was.  We pulled over and walked the old golf cart paths toward the arch.    It gave me a chance to see something that I had not noticed before.  I believed the water source for Mountain View Falls was a pond above it.   I believed it would never have much water on it because of the pond controlling the flow.   It turns out the falls comes from a stream and a spring.  We could hear it as we approached!   We found the arch with no trouble.
Today we would prove it was possible to reach it by way of the North corner of the arch instead of going further out and down the slope.   We had rope with us, but did not need it.   Plenty of rhodo and trees to hang on to.   Once we got down a certain distance we were in no danger of falling. We just walked under the arch and over to see the falls at the other end of it.     It was too dark down here to get decent photos.  

Rock Castle Falls 001
Looking back up through Mountain View Arch 100 x 30.   

Rock Castle Falls 007

 Mountain View Falls is 25 ft tall.    

         We did not linger too long because of the growing darkness.   We crawled back up the slot at the edge of the arch.  One tricky spot where a rope would have been nice, but we made it.  I got very dirty.   Back at the campground we visited with John & Sharon.   The cabin looked nice where it was decorated for Christmas!   We decided to get cleaned up and go to Mana Fresca  grand opening night to eat.   It was fantastic! Authentic Mexican food that is a great value and a fun dining experience.
The Garcia family runs it and they are extremely nice folks who have not lived in Fentress County long.  I'm sure it is a shock to move from Los Angeles to Jamestown.   I can't even imagine.
We lingered over dinner.  Finally we were weary and headed back to Maple Hill to turn in. 
We decided what we'd do in the morning and went to bed.  


    We got up Saturday morning and Kenny fixed breakfast.    We packed lunches and met up with John & Sharon over at their property.  They have begun the house building.   They ran into problems with the block layers and suppliers and contractors creating stress. I felt bad in that I did not want them to feel obligated to go if they did not want to.  They ended up going anyway as it appeared after several attempts and phone calls there was nothing for it.    We visited Rainbow Falls & Pit Cave and then on up to Blue Hole Branch Falls beyond that.   It is a relatively short, easy hike and the rain
had them running.  Sometimes they dry up to where they are not flowing.   Today was fine.  It was warm and pretty outside.  Just right for hiking.  I figured a short hike and we'd head back so if there was any business open for a solution for their block supply problems......... there might be a way to work it out today.    

 Sharon and Kenny looking down into Rainbow Falls Pit. It is 110 ft tall.
 Kenny checking out Blue Hole Branch Falls.  I was pleased this was running.
Big smile on John's face despite a lumpy start to the day.  Making the best of things.
We're standing in the right side approach channel to Blue Hole Branch Falls. It is very cool.

 We hiked through briars and brambles back to see all this.  It was a rewarding hike. Worth the effort to see these things.    It felt very good to finally bring my friends here to enjoy these spots.
We went on back toward Jamestown and more efforts were made by phone to try to remedy the building supply situation to no avail.   Frustrating.   At last Kenny and I went on a short ride since we couldn't fix the situation and the day was wearing on.    We were right there at the base of Skinner Mountain.  The only thing either of us really cared about going to see was taking the "back way" in to Frank's Flume.    That would be just right to fit into the amount of time we had left for the day.
We passed Ricky Roysden along with several other dirt bikers on their way out as we were headed in!  We spoke to him briefly and they had to scoot.  He said a lot of the kids with him had a birthday party they were supposed to attend later.  

           Kenny did an awesome job of finding the other way down to Frank's Flume.
It was rough and parts of it really did not look like a trail.   I am trying to decide about leaving it in the Skinner Mountain Guide or taking it out.  I am leaning more in the direction of taking it out.
Even with Kenny's knowledge we missed a turn on it and the "trail" is practically non existent in places.  We were just running over saplings and to me that is just making a way... not riding a trail.
I kept insisting something was wrong when we stopped losing elevation and the conditions kept growing worse.  Kenny is like a beagle after a rabbit sometimes. He won't quit but keeps going despite the lack of results.  We did not go very far at all until he stopped and admitted I was right.
I asked him to just back up which he did.  To our right and heading down the hill we had gone past the turn.  I knew we had to go DOWN the slope to reach Frank's Flume.    We had a fun roller coaster type ride the rest of the way to the flume.    It was flowing , but not a lot different than last time.
 Frank's Flume

Old shed below Frank's Flume.

   I refused to go back the way we had come down.   I wanted to just go round and back up Lost Cane.
That is what we did.  On the way past Frank's Flume and back toward Lost Cane I noticed Kenny kept watching the woods to the right.  I asked him what he was looking for?  He said he was watching for a road to intersect on that side. He said he believed there should be one, but it was probably very over grown. I knew that Bill's Creek was near by and just on the other side of the ridge. Between the flume and just before the wooden shack we did see an old logging road coming in from the right!  It was extremely overgrown not being traveled in a long time.   He said he will come back and cut it out so we can use it.  We shall see.  :-) Today Lost Cane was open with no downed trees covering the trail.  Two of several waterfalls were flowing. #5 and #7 were running. They both come out of the ground and go right back in the ground.

             We ended our day dirty, muddy, briar scratched , tired and happy.  We wanted something quick for supper and were so dirty.  We enjoyed the balmy evening by grabbing a quick bite at Sonic.
Santa was there along with a tiny puppy, an elf, and a dancing Tater Tot.  Saturday frolic in Jamestown! Yippee!


Rock Castle Gorge

   Sunday morning we woke and I had a hankering for a biscuit and gravy breakfast from Hardees.My way of celebrating my wonderful cholesterol level at my doctor visit. The great news? I'm made like my Dad. My cholesterol ratios are such that it isn't a problem for me now and is not likely to be ever.   I'll live to be 100.   We had time constraints because unknown to John and Klaas we were planning a joint birthday party dinner for them.  It was Sharon and Betty's doings.  We were just along for the ride on that deal.   We had to be back, cleaned and dressed and ready for a birthday dinner at 6 pm Central time.     We decided to hit up Rock Castle Gorge to take Sharon and John down to see the falls in there. It was nearby and a relatively short adventure. Another motivation for me was that I had lost all my images of that except for one video.

          We met at Hardees and had a leisurely breakfast.  They followed us through town and we pulled over at a power line easement and parked and walked from there.   Something about it was different than before. I knew there had been some change, but after some hemming and hawing we figured out we WERE at the correct spot.   We later realized the dirt track was changed because of a nearby church purchasing land and the road was moved over a bit.  It was a short, easy hike to the rear of a housing development. It lies at the rim of Rock Castle Gorge.  We found a split in the bluff
and descended.   It was easier than I remembered and no ropes required.  

        We worked our way gradually down hill and among the boulders.  In no time we were within sight of Rock Castle Falls.   It was flowing great today!  The setting in that beautiful deep green hemlock gorge was just perfect!

Rock Castle Falls.. the one that is on the Tennessee landforms database.

Below is a video of this falls and additional ones we found in the gorge below it.  We had been here several times, but today was the hardest and most fun, most rewarding!   Having friends along to visit it for their first time gave us inspiration and courage to keep going!  We found so much more below the first one.  The weird thing is that the waterfalls while impressive appear dwarfed by the house sized boulders surrounding them!

  The best part of today for me?  Climbing around the boulders and checking out various views of waterfalls I climbed up on a huge fallen hemlock tree trunk.  I walked the entire tree out to its end and THIS vantage point that made me gasp.
The last four feet of the log stuck out over a house sized boulder beside it with a huge drop below it.
I was not able to shoot video steadily from a stance here, but did manage to stay steady enough to get photos!  Great progress for this brain damaged old lady!  My balance and coordination are improving!  There is hope for me yet!  I laughed and said Jay Walker would swear my carrying on at Medley Arch and Sinking Falls was fake and it was just for attention! ha!

       We crawled around here checking out an additional five waterfalls below the first one.  Two of them were twins that emerged on either side of a huge boulder!  The photo below illustrates part of that, but again...... it makes the falls look puny compared to the rocks!


The terrain down in Rock Castle Gorge.  400 feet deep.  We were all dreading the climb back out of that hole.  I missed my perfect chance for one of Marlene's "Dead" poses after completing only a fraction of this climb.     There was not enough level ground to lay down for a photo! What's funny when you're in the midst of something like that? The thought crosses your mind Well if I die doing this at least I don't have to hike anymore!  I can rest!

  Moan, groan, huff and puff as we did ...we still managed to make it out and once up at the bluff line it was easy from there.   We had the worst behind us.  Sharon kept telling me how many times I'd already said that.  I lie to myself to try to feel better.  We sat on the tail gates of the trucks and ate lunch.   It was a beautiful, warm day.    They went back to Maple Hill worn out but happy.
We wanted to squeeze in one more something?  Kenny said we'd try to ride out Darrow Ridge Road and see Christian Tunnel.   

Christian Tunnel

            All the years we'd visited the area we had not once ridden out Darrow Ridge Road.  It is a very pretty area.  It is partly housing and residential and part outdoors opportunity!   Many of them!  Lots of land forms and trail heads out here to be discovered.  We had to follow the rough road all the way out to its end at Christian Cemetery. ( It keeps going, but only as a trail or bike path beyond that point).  We parked at the cemetery and I checked out a few of the old graves.  Many were marked by very old clay bricks.   Southern Clay Brick Manufacturing Company. I don't know if "Christian" cemetery denotes a religious affliliation or someone's surname?  One guy had a menorah on his headstone which appears more Hebrew!   There is no trail to Christian Tunnel. We had to off trail it to find it.   At least it was short.  0.22 miles from where we parked to it.   We found it first try.
I took land marks on the way there, but it was no use.  On the way back we got screwed up and everything looked the same.  Thankfully the GPS tracked us back safely to the truck.

           Christian Tunnel is worth a look. It is a rock house or arch that is 120 ft through.   Has a front and back door. It has the most liesegang weathering I've ever seen hands down!  Prettiest too.  It was all over everything. 

Front door of Christian Tunnel.  Kenny in the picture for scale.

 Back door of Christian Tunnel
 Liesegang Rings on the walls of the rock house outside

Another huge rock house next to Christian Tunnel with more split of chunks of liesegang patterns. 

The view of sunset looking out across Darrow Ridge Road on our drive back out.

           I grew up surrounded by sage fields in Barren Ridge.  It was pretty to me then as a child. I still love seeing those settings as an adult.   Darrow Ridge is such a place.   We saw a few folks out there besides us,but it is quiet and pretty.  No one else was at Christian Tunnel and it looks like it doesn't get visited much at all. 

           Back at the cabin we got showered and dressed and eventually went next door to Betty & Klaas' home for the birthday party.  It was John's birthday on Tuesday and Klaas' birthday Dec. 23rd.
Sharon baked cakes and breadsticks. Betty served wine and veggies and dip.  Sharon had made lasagna. We had a nice meal and celebration with friends and lots of good conversation.   It was fun.  None of us are real big party animals so we were all tired and ready to turn in by 8:30 or so.  
I know John and Sharon had to be worn out from that toiling up the hill in Rock Castle. I was worn slap out.


             We woke Monday to rain.  The weather forecasters had called it correctly. However they expected it to be out of the area by 10 am in Jamestown.  We packed up our stuff and tried to decide what we wanted to do?   We decided the only thing that really sounded appealing was to try to make it into the bottom of Big Piney Gorge to hunt for waterfalls and make trail connections.  We were fully prepared for lots of lumberjacking like last time.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that the gate had not been put up again!  Even better the rain was gone and the sun was out.  Best of all? 
For the most part all the remaining trees that covered the trail were cut out!    We didn't have to fret with it today.  We made it all the way down into the guts of Big Piney.  We were exhultant!  
It is quiet, hushed,deep green pale aqua and beautiful down in there.  The stream flowed by gray and aqua.  The hemlocks were deep green. The velvet green moss coated everything.  
We hiked up and down the stream banks.  It is one of those places where little sunlight gets in and what does make it down there is glittering golden.  

Sunlight struggling to make it to the floor of the gorge.  
 Everything mossy down in Big Piney

Beautiful Big Piney Creek and gorge... no one down here but us!

 Ford of Big Piney Creek

Big Piney Creek.  This is not a normal stream. It comes out of a headwaters, flows and most times it goes into the ground before it ever makes it to the confluence of the East Fork Obey River.  

    We did not find any waterfalls down here today as hoped.   It was still neat and very satisfying to be here at last.   We did find a way to turn it into a loop ride and another way in and out  of the place.
I was ready to go home after a few hours.  I was weary.    
I did manage to go down the road and get a photo of Cravenstown Arch with the hog pen atop it.

Cravenstown Arch from the back.  It looks better round here than it does from the road.  Its 12 feet high here. On the other side it is a briar patch and only about 4 feet high.  See the hog pen at the far end?  Yes. It is built on the arch.   This is right down the road from Tay's Grocery.

A better look at the hog pen.

          We loaded up and headed home.  It was good to know tonight we'd sleep in our own comfy bed!    

Friday, December 18, 2015

Hiking with Anne-Cherokee National Forest

Its the 4th skillet in my Skillet Collection
Found at Ballplay, TN.

Hiking With Anne in the Cherokee National Forest 

Thursday Dec. 12, 2015

Dana Koogler

Mary Anne Brewer

Hike distance for the day 6.75 miles 

     I had hiked with Anne before, but it was at a Smoky Mountain Hiking Club function.
It worked out that we went hiking together last Thursday.   Discussing it I tossed out suggestions for her and sent her some photos of places we might venture. I told her to decide which ones she liked.
I also told her that we should be able to fit them all into a day.    We met at the Tellico Plains Visitor Center on Thursday morning a little before 8:30 am.   We made a quick stop at a local convenience store for a bathroom break and last minute touch ups on provisions.    We took my jeep from 
Tellico Plains for the remainder of the day.  At least two of the spots we were heading to would be rougher roads and one in particular I was concerned about.    

           It was a beautiful day. It warmed up to nearly 70 degrees, sunny with a light breeze.
Our first stop was the pull off for Fall Branch Falls.  She had not seen this one yet, but had heard someone discussing a waterfall reachable from the Rattlesnake Rock area.   We hiked down to see it
and it was flowing fantastic.  We forded the stream by rock hopping.   It is a wilderness trail, but pretty good condition.   I have been numerous times and I really see the difference in the tree canopy cover with the dying of the hemlocks and the damaging wind storms the past several years.   The falls is gorgeous and she really liked it.   
 Anne taking photos of the falls.
Fall Branch Falls, TN Southern Cherokee National Forest. 

    We headed back up and boys howdy.. it was up up and more up. But then it leveled off and we were back at the jeep!   On to the next stop!   We headed in the direction of Ballplay Falls.

                Ballplay is along the old Buck Highway way out in the country. It is in an area one doesn't typically expect to find waterfalls, but there are some in there hiding.    The extra good thing is the drive is pretty and the setting is pretty too.    We parked and sat down on the porch of the old house to eat a quick lunch before hiking.   The stream flowed past and it was quiet.     The day continued to be nice and mild.   Curious cows watched us from the nearby fields hoping we had brought hay for them.    Once we had finished eating we grabbed our hiking gear and hit the trail.   We picked up a trail behind the house.  You can see it from where we parked, but the first hundred yards of that old road are choked with rhododendron.    It is best to walk on back of the house and pick it up at another spot avoiding all that mess.     

          The hike to the falls starts out as a gradual uphill grade.  Part of the trail is narrow and crumbly.
We just took our time and eased past the bad spot.     Long way down if you miss a step here.
There is another spot where you go under and around massive tree stumps.  Another bad spot in the trail has been repaired by logs building it up and keeping it from sliding off the hillside. 
Far below us the creek murmured.   We had glimpses of blue mountains and skies and deep green pines across the gorge from us.   It was not too long until the trail made a sweeping right turn and leveled off some.     The pine woods we hiked through smelled so good.  It was quiet other than our conversation.   What a good day this was turning out to be.  

        We began our gradual descent toward the stream.   Below we could hear the creek talking louder now.   The falls were close!    I had previously warned Anne that this trail was not well maintained and some of it might be rough. I anticipated that the only place which might be tricky was the last couple hundred yards to the stream level at the base of the falls.   Anne had not been concerned about anything we'd run into up until this point.  We were in for a nasty surprise.  We were faced with a snarl of downed hemlock trees of large girth.   They were peeled of their bark and very slippery.
Anne goes off trail with Tammi Layhue, but she looked like she was dreading this mess.  I entered the  tangle and scouted it to see what was going on?  I could see it was not as bad as it looked. 
Once through it the trail was on the far side once more.   We were within feet of being at the falls.
I described to her what we were going to have to do to reach the base.  I also told her that if she was not comfortable with going into this stuff we'd turn around and do something else?  Tough as iron and twice as determined she refused to give in!  "We're this close to the falls! They are right there!
I'm no quitter!" True to her word she is no quitter.  She is instead a determined, great humored, strong hiker.   We wriggled over those downed trees, through briars and down the bank.   We made it!
We stood at the base of Ballplay Falls high fiving one another! 

 Anne at Ballplay Falls.
 You can count every pebble in the bottom of the stream today. It is so clear!

Ballplay Falls is forty feet high and river wide.  You cannot really get a good vantage of the upper drop of the falls. The terrain is so dramatic there is no place to stand to photograph the upper falls on the far side of the river.  On this side the rhodo has choked the bank thickly leaving to place to stand.
Our spot at the base of the falls is IT!

             We enjoyed the falls here.  The stream below where we stood rushes over stones standing at odd angles.  It pretty quickly makes a bend and disappears around it.  The stream makes several turns before merging with another stream on the next ridge.    I thought about Paul Gamble today and hope to return here with him or him and Kenny so we can find the other falls he told me about. I found the creek it was on back in Spring, but talk about being clogged with rhodo!  He says he knows a better way to access it by taking the right side of the trail we passed earlier.  Says that will take you up to a point where you can just drop off to it!  

               Eventually we headed back up the bank.  I went stupid for a minute or two.
I tried crawling up the first open hole I came to. I encountered more briars and snarled vegetation that I had on the way down?  I backed up and tried again at a slightly different spot.    I still didn't get anywhere.   It hit me "I'm making this way harder than it has to be."  I told Anne to let me take another gander at the terrain and we'd figure this out.   I turned around and upon another look realized my mistake.  Before us was the hole we'd come down.   I remembered Anne remarking on the way down that getting back up it was going to be more problematic. I agreed with here in that instant and I agreed with her now.   Yet we struggled our way back up it.   We made it.  The wet, mushy bank here is also made up of small rocks and loose chunks of dried red clay.   It isn't the surest footing, but we found that it was short lived.   I thought of Jenny and narrowed the focus to the most immediate task. Get that little thing done....... then move on to the next step in the rhodo dance.   Before you know it.... You're out of there! It felt great to get back in the clear.  We shed layers of clothing and got a drink before hiking back out.   Once back at the old house we took time to photograph the house, barn, and outbuildings.   It is a place with lots of history.   We also took a few minutes to stop off at the Williamsburg Cemetery on the hill on our way out.   

 Old home place at Ballplay
 Anne walking along the muddy lane
Barn on the left and Ballplay Creek. You can just see the edge of the house and the wrap around porch.  The bridge is constructed of old fuel tanks.

          Ancient hog pen and old tires on the far side of Ballplay Creek.  I had never walked round here to check this out until today.

A look at the Williamsburg Cemetery.  It is pretty modern and very well kept.

I stopped on the way back out the old dirt road.  I wanted to get a photo of this scene.  We had passed it on the way in.  It was still the same on the way out.   Anne asked me "How does stuff like that happen?" and it hit me that based on where I am from......... It didn't have to be explained to me.

Shades of Vesuvius and driving in South River after SOMEBODY had too much to drink and decided to not only ford the river, but drive up the river with the mower on the back of the truck.
Not naming any names.   It wont me.   Mowing the yard works up a powerful thirst though. 

        We headed back toward Tellico Plains.   We by passed the visitor center and Anne's car
so we could go to Conasauga Falls which is not far off.   A fellow had described the condition of the road to Anne as being way worse than what it truly is.   I told her to take note of it today on the drive in to see for herself.    It really wasn't that rough.  Long as she is just going to the falls and back ought to be fine.  One turn down there takes you to a drive through the creek place and that could be rough in high water.    We passed one vehicle on our way in.  A fellow in a pickup truck who appeared to just be driving round enjoying the pretty weather.

              We hiked down the trail 1 mile to Conasauga Falls. It is a pretty hike again through a pine woods.  The trail is in good condition, but it does have a few rocky sections.    It gives you more glimpses of blue mountains seen through green pine trees.   We also saw some small cascades above the main falls which are scenic.    Conasauga Falls was running great today!   
Conasauga Falls rolling along!  

          We enjoyed the waterfall and when we were ready we hiked back out.  It is downhill on the way in and uphill on the way out.  The switchbacks make it a lot easier to take!
Anne is a great hiking companion and an interesting person to converse with.   I had an awesome day with her and I very much look forward to our next adventure.    She hikes at a similar pace to me.

      We parted company and said our good-byes.   Thanks Anne for spending time with me.
It meant a lot to me.   

Monday, December 7, 2015

Attempt at Reaching Fall Branch Falls 130 footer

Amanda gazing across Lake Tellico

Attempt at Reaching Fall Branch Falls 130 footer

Sunday Dec. 12, 2015

Total hike distance 2 miles 

Kenny & Dana Koogler
Paul, Shawn, and Amanda Gamble

        Twelve years ago we were in the habit of camping at Notchey Creek Campground and boating on Tellico Lake.   We would venture out and hike to some stuff that was nearby.  
I tried to stay on top of what was new or fresh or to be discovered in the area.    One of my searches back then yielded information on the existence of a waterfall on Lake Tellico.  
The only "Lake Tellico" I knew of was the one we went boating on and camping on.  I didn't find out much else about it so I put that aside.    Years later I learned of a Lake Tellico in Tellico Plains.  It hit me then what if the waterfall in question was on this little lake?  I later found out from Tom Dunigan that there IS a 130 foot waterfall that goes by the name "Fall Branch Falls" dropping from a side cove into that lake.   I had finally figured out where it was. 
Accessing it was going to be the problem now.  It lay on private property back Quarry Creek Road past the Tellico Round House.   

            Long story short I finally figured out from Nathan Yarbrough and Paul Gamble that Mr. Larry Hamilton owned the area where the Tellico Round House was.  Nate helped me and 
shared his phone number. I called and spoke to him and he gave me permission to walk back there.  Sunday we gathered up myself, Kenny, Paul, his wife Shawn, their daughter Amanda.
I invited Nate and Angie to go,but they were back at Green Cove and didn't get the message until too late.    We were very excited and hopeful about being successful this time.   
We met them at the Ingles in Madisonville at 9 am Sunday morning to make our attempt.

         I had kept up with Paul and his family through Facebook and through his Forest and Stream Photography Page.  I had wanted for some time more than anything to get to be real time friends with Paul and his family.  They like similar things to me and Kenny and like us are rural Americans!  Finally I got my wish.   It felt like we had known them forever we hit it off real well.   We all got along great and the best thing about the day was their company!

           We found the first gate pulled too, but unlocked. I got out and opened it letting both vehicles in then put it back in place.   The second gate was locked. I found that a little odd, but did not think much about it.  Something funny hit me that Mr. Hamilton said on the phone when I spoke to him.  He had remarked " I don't know of any waterfall back there, but you're welcome to go back there and look."  I had thanked him and brushed it off. It would not be the first time I'd met someone who was not fully aware of their surroundings if they were not hikers or explorers.   Kenny asked me about it and I told him that to the best of my knowledge we were good to go and had permission. We backed the vehicles up to the nearest spot we could find which was beside an old barn.  We parked here and hiked the rest of the way.    


We parked near the old Tellico Round house.  

      The hike back the road along Quarry creek was  pretty.  Amanda is quite the photographer and videographer. She stopped to take photos of beautiful frost flowers along the road in a field.   We did pass a small, attractive cascade on the creek we had not noticed before.
Cascade on Quarry Creek. There are water lines going over the top of it, but they are not currently working. One end of them is unhooked.    This is about 10 ft tall.  Sheer banks on all sides at this point. No good way to get a view of it without starting in downstream and walking up the creek. 

          We didn't have to go far until we came to the houses and Lake Tellico. 
One house stands empty and must be a vacation home. The other is the caretakers residence Mr. Jim Campbell.  Shawn knew him and said he was very nice.   

Boats along the shore of the lake on our side.  The waterfall is on the far side.

  We had studied the terrain on google earth including satellite view the previous night and believed it would be possible to go round the lake shore to reach the cleft the falls is hidden in.   The topo map made it appear the far end of the lake would be more passable.  A quick survey of the near end of the lake shore and we knew we weren't going to get there from this end.    We continued to hike the short distance round to the end of the lake.   We passed some neat looking primitive style cabins on the way.   We could hear the waterfall roaring across the lake.  It was just far enough back in there we could not even get a glimpse of it.    We went on down to the tailwaters of the lake where there was a marsh and a small, stagnant stream.  It was partially frozen and hoar frost was on parts of it.  
Paul went one way and Kenny went another. I did like I usually do and followed after the tracks of the big man.  Shawn was right ahead of me.  It was mere seconds until we both wished we'd followed Paul!   Shawn sunk in the mud over the top of her boot. I fell to my knees in it!  Oh! It was wet, cold and so smelly!  It was a long way from the heart though and I got up and just laughed.   I found a handkerchief and at least wiped off my hands a bit.   Paul was taking pictures of me. Black mail!  
We eventually realized that our efforts were in vain. The ground was soft and soupy.  The banks of the lake over here were no more forgiving than they were on the other end.  Rather than waste a bunch of time we decided we'd head back and see if Jim would allow us to borrow a boat and some oars and go across the lake to it?   Shawn said she felt comfortable asking him since she knew him pretty well and he was friendly.  

            We face the problem of getting back across this soupy mess.  Paul had much better success 
than we did so we listened to him this time.  Kenny was saying to head after him and go round the way he was because the ground was firmer.  I was not willing to do it this time.  The trip back across the marsh was much less diastrous. He took my hiking pole from me and took my cleaner of the two hands and I was able to leap across. Next he made sure Shawn and Amanda got over ok.  Once we were all back over and headed toward the care takers house we stopped by those cabins to check them out.  It was obvious no one had stayed in them for a long while.   Shawn found a note from the electric company tacked to the front door that indicated they owed money and the power would be shut off after such and such a date. It was fairly recent!    

Pretty little cabin with Kenny and Shawn out front.
 Old claw foot bath tub on the back porch.
Tiny cabin on the hill above it. Amanda said it had a full bed in there with sheets still on it.  Extra sleeping quarters apparently.  

        We went back to the caretakers place and I hung back. I was very smelly and dirty from that nasty  mud.   I figured I'd put him off for sure if I got close.   We got the surprise of our lives. Shawn found out from talking to him that the property was not owned all by the same individual.  
Larry Hamilton's property ends at the second gate.  We had no idea.  He was very gracious about it, but said now was not a good time to visit the falls and so we left.  
We began our walk back to the trucks.    It was a pleasant, easy stroll with lots of things to see and interesting conversation.  A pretty, cold, clear day with new friends who I sincerely hope will become old friends.   They are interested in nature, outdoors and history.   They all have a great sense of humor as well.   

            Back at the round house we walked up the hill with Paul to see the Blue Hole. I knew there was an old quarry operation here, but I  thought the lake was part of it.  He said no that it was behind the round house which was a silo from the old operation. Doc Rogers had built the house in front of the silo.  The blue hole was pretty, but an eerie place.  It is an old slate quarry.  
Paul had just gotten done telling me about being up here with Amanda and hearing rocks falling into the water of the blue hole. He realized that Amanda came close to pitching down into the water.
I was across on the far left trying to get a better shot of the mine shaft Kenny had stepped into. 
He came out and was heading back to where we started when I heard the sound of rocks hitting the water.  I looked over and the bank was giving way and crumbling as he tried to walk back.  I was doing a piece of praying.  I did not want him to get hurt or take a cold swim in that deep, steep sided blue hole.  Shawn and Paul were closer to him than I was.  I put the camera away quickly in case I had to either jump in the water after him or go down to the Jeep to get a rope to toss him.  He made it back to the side and boy was I relieved. He took ten years off my life.   

   The blue hole above the Tellico Round House. You can barely see the black spot which is the entrance of one of the mine shafts.   That is where Kenny went in.  He says they only go back about 15 feet into the bank. Certainly was not worth nearly getting hurt over.

A better view of Kenny coming out of the mine shaft. It started off being ok.  The bank narrows and steepens to where there is almost no place to stand.

    We left the blue hole and went back down to the vehicles.  We visited a little more and then we finally parted company.  Kenny had worked the previous six days and did not want a long day of exploring he said.  I could not blame him.   We went our separate ways ,and I think we're all looking forward to more adventures. I know I am!  Kenny had a great time too.   What great fortune to meet folks like the Gambles.  Shawn said she'd work on seeing if we couldn't go back at a later date and take a boat across.  So she is working on the Two if By Sea Route. 

        Before we headed up the road home Kenny was determined to scope out the One if by Land route!  We went down SR 68 and just as he said he took us right to the spot where a rather overgrown trail takes off and heads in what appears to be the right direction of the waterfall.  
He said the first tries struck out, but the next attempt would be a HOME RUN!

Edited to Add**  Trying to google search for info on a waterfall like that which is rather obscure but shares the same name as another one in the area is incredibly frustrating.

Now we know why that trail exists.  Anyone trying to reach it is going to either have a water craft coming at it from the lake or going to have to reach it from the ridge line and work their way down.
I also know for sure now why Mr. Hamilton did not know of the waterfall. It was not on his place!