Saturday, May 30, 2015

Memorial Day Camping Trip --Riding the River Trail and Garrett Mill Falls and Rugby

American bladdernut -a flowering shrub along the 
East Fork Obey River, TN. 

Memorial Day Camping Trip 
Saturday May 23, 2015

Sunday May 24, and Monday May 25, 2015

Miles Ridden--30

Miles Hiked 2.2
Dana & Kenny Koogler
Sharon McGee
Invited but absent.. present in spirit

John Ungerer

Memorial Day Camping Trip Pix

   We got up and hustled to pack and get on the road Saturday morning. I was still stove up and sore from Friday's hiking. I was not much interested in hiking this weekend for sure.   Luckily we planned to visit with Sharon and take it easy.  I needed it and I know Kenny did too.    We got going and were at the campground and set up by 10:30 or so.   We'd even had time to run in Wal-Mart in Jamestown to do our grocery shopping.   We stayed at Maple Hill RV Campground.  It is such a nice place with a very family type atmosphere.   We got to greet Betty and Klass DeJong the owners of the place.
They have gotten to be friends and not merely owners of a business we frequent.    Good people.

     We headed over to Woo Hoo to see Sharon. Friday had been her actual birthday, and we had 
some birthday surprises for her.   It was great to see my friend again. Hugs and kisses and more hugs.
I grow to love her more and more.   We missed John but hoped that he'd be jealous enough of our doings he'd bust out of Florida soon and join us.   The list of places we must all go together grows ever longer.    Sharon liked her birthday presents and we had fun picking them out and giving them.
I did not take any photos of them, but I was proud of the selections.   I love getting funny cards and presents for people.  

      We decided to ride the River Trail.  It was the first time we'd been there when the river levels were down enough to ride it.  We passed a couple other riders on the way and tent campers!
It was a perfect, blue bird day. Blue skies. Puffy clouds. Sunshine. Perfect temperatures.
A bit on the cool side for swimming, but beautiful just the same.  We quickly gathered our stuff and headed off down the road.   We hadn't gone far when I began seeing gorgeous late Spring wildflowers.  I was not believing my luck!

The red and yellow flowers are Indian Pinks. The black ones are Climbing milkweed.

Also seen a short distance further down the road was White Milkweed.

     We forded the river the first time and the only other group of riders we encountered were taking a snack break there across the river at the ford.   The water levels were just right.  Enough water in the river to make it fun to swim or play, but not so much to make it hard to get across.

Above: East Fork River through the hemlock trees.
Lower photo-- The river trail

    We took a leisurely ride up the river with plenty of stops to check things out.
Sharon wanted to go on up to the jumping off rock so that is where we headed.

We passed the blue hole on the way.  Trout were swimming like crazy in the river today.
Sharon heard from her neighbor Caleb that the Red Horse suckers had their spawning run the weekend before.   I'd like to see that some time.  I did see piles of sucker eggs in the river where there is not much current!

 Above is a photo of the jumping off rock.  The river was gorgeous and the forest so green.
Magnolias bloomed on the far banks.  The fragrance of honeysuckle and roses was all along the river today.   Perfect day.
All this beauty in one spot and under a blue blue sky.

We saw pale white and bold pink mountain laurel in several spots along the river.

Sharon has brought a snack of fresh cherries which we are enjoying.  She is preaching Kenny a sermon on how crazy he is to not like tomatoes.  I love this woman!  :-)

    We decided to ride on up to the Blow Hole Cave which is one of the entrances to Xanadu Cave system.    We had been before, but it had been quite awhile.    The forest up river is a pretty place and a nice ride.     We went on up there enjoying the deep green hemlock forest.

 River Trail through the forest at midday.
 Sharon approaching the blow hole cave.

 Looking out of the Blow Hole
Sharon is hunkered down on that little point of rock jutting out over a pit.  Today we could see better than there IS a floor in this pit.  It is a good ways down to it though.

       The wind coming out of the Blow Hole was ruffling all the pretty ferns and vegetation around the entrances.   It is a neat place to visit especially on a hot day.

    We made our way back down toward the Shabin at Woo Hoo.  She has it fixed up so nice.
We saw more interesting things on the way. Some of which I did not have my camera for at the time and had to go back to see the next day!
 Swamp Rose growing along the river banks.  There were lots of these and they smelled so nice!

Clear water and ripples in the stream.  One of many fords.

We didn't see this on the way in.. but caught it on the way out. Sharon pointed it out.  I love Jesus, but I don't want to paint his face on the rocks with a stencil. That is just messing up the world
He created to be pretty for everyone! Put your stencil and your spray paint up.  

   We went back to Woo Hoo at a decent hour.  We had dinner reservations at Bacarra's Restaurant at 7 pm and wanted to have time to get cleaned up.  It is a little ride out there from Jamestown so we 
didn't get into anything too lengthy today.   We had a fantastic dinner there with wine, excellent service and great conversation. It was so good to spend time together!  The fireflies on the way drive back home were beautiful also.     


    We made plans to do something fun on Sunday, but nothing too strenuous.   We planned to meet Sharon and ride up past Livingston to visit Garrett Mill Falls.  We also wanted to do some scouting 
about some sinkhole locations and the entrance road to Alpine Mountain WMA.  

 We saw a baby water snake at Garrett Mill Falls. I touched him and talked to him. He was very docile.   Michael would have loved seeing him. This little snake had a sweet disposition.
We passed the ruins of an old grist mill on the way to this spot.
Garrett Mill Falls has multiple drops. This little cascade is very scenic.  The stream flows from underground and forms another three drops of a waterfall across the road.  

We went IN the cave as far as we could.   We freaked out about cave spiders.
Lots of ugly graffitti tags in the cave.   It is a novel place.  I had my water shoes so I just waded the creek and was good to plow on through the water in the cave.  We came prepared with lights.
 In the cave.. it quit here.
 Sharon ahead of me in the cave taking pix.
Looking back out the entrance

We checked out the other drops of the falls. All were very scenic. There are no official trails to the lower portions and we had to be very careful of poison ivy.   
One of three drops to Garrett Mill Falls.  There would be a 4th one during times of recent, heavy rain fall,but today it was barely damp.

Below is a video that shows all the drops to Garrett Mill Falls.  

   We enjoyed this spot.  We drove out to find a sink hole I know has a waterfall in it.
I lost interest quickly.  It was getting hot.  It was snakey and overgrown.  I was picking a horrible time to try this!   Instead we ate lunch and cooled off.

        We went back through Alpine and with the help of some young men Kenny talked to while we were at the waterfalls... we found it!  Finding this road is not easy if you are not local. It is well tucked away.   We played with puppies at  a nice ladies house and enjoyed a pleasant conversation with her.  

    Back at Woo Hoo... we had a little bit of time so Kenny took me back up the river trail to explore two things I wanted to see.  We found a side stream that just looked different.  It reminded me of the spring creek coming out of Shipps Cave in Coppinger Cove.  I checked it out on Saturday without any camera because I got so excited and just took off.  Today I went back IN water shoes WITH a camera and took photos and video.  That was thing one.  I found that it emerges from a boil and a cave.  I also found an old bridge rotting and a high water road that the bridge used to provide access to!  East Fork River gets up and folks had to have ways out all along the river whenever they could.
This is one example.   We also explored an area of bottom land I could see, but usually could not access.  Today we reached it because the river is down.  Not much over there, but an old fence and a rock wall.  At last my curiosity was satisfied though.
 Blue spring boil .. the water pulsates up out of the ground here and helps form this stream.
Blue Spring Boil Video

 Spring creek that merges with the East Fork River
 Rotting old wooden bridge!  I found a huge chunk of metal anchor from this bridge.
Old rock wall where I never expected to find anything!

   We went back to the campground and rested. Sharon came over and we cooked out. We visited with some of the other campers including Klaas and Betty.   It was a relaxing evening.
We finished off the birthday bottle of wine. Good to the last drop!  Sharon planned to head out on Monday sometime going back to Florida so that evening we said our sad goodbyes.
She'll be back in June so that helps.


  Monday we slept in for a change.  We fixed a nice breakfast.  It called for thunderstorms on Monday afternoon and we had to check out at a reasonable time. We opted to do some hiking on this side of the highway.  We went over to Rugby to explore and hike.  
It was just right.  We got to have some experiences we'd never had before!  We have visited Rugby at least twice before, but NEVER hiked there!   Today we decided we'd find out where some of the trails were and do several short hikes.
We hit up the visitor centers and the rangers couldn't have been any nicer.   We got plenty of free info
on the trails. I had books at home, but I failed to bring them with me this trip.   We hiked to the Massengale Home Place.  We hiked the White Oak Branch Trail. We hiked to Gentleman's Swimming Hole.   All were good, but Gentlemans' Swimming Hole was the best. Interesting rock forms on the way there. An easy hike.  Very scenic. Lots of mountain laurel.   The river was lovely.

    We had lunch at Harrow Road Cafe which was far better than I expected!  I'd go again!
We shopped a little in a few of the stores.  It was just right for the time we had and what we wanted to involve ourselves in for the day.    We went back and got packed and on the road just ahead of the 
big thunderstorm.  We went home happy and mellow.  We did not wear ourselves out so bad this trip. Not ever trip should leave you coming home with your tongue hanging out.  :-)

Above-- we stopped by one of two river accesses we'd wanted to check out. This is the Brewster Bridge access near Rugby.  The one we still need to check out is Peters Bridge. Next go round!
There is a very nice picnic spot by this swimming hole. It looks like it seldom gets used and is practically new!

 Print shop in Rugby-- it is still operational!
 The Commissary in Rugby..
 Harrow Road Cafe.. delicious and reasonably priced. Not as stuffed shirt as I imagined either!

Massengale Home Place. A good kiosk here with lots of good info. They do guided hikes to this.
Gentleman's swimming hole... my favorite for the day.  Pink mountain laurel and bright, lime green clumps of royal fern along the river.  An easy hike!

Smith Branch Cascade Attempt #1

Bracket fungus along the manway

Smith Branch Cascade Attempt #1

Friday May 22, 2015

Mike Gourley and Dana Koogler

Total bushwhack distance?


Pictures are here beginning with frame #384

Smith Branch Cascade Attempt #1 Pix

Smith Branch Cascade on Tennessee Landforms

  We had planned to bushwhack today to a waterfall neither of us had visited if time permitted.
We headed to Kephart Prong Trailhead after leaving Barnett Branch. We opted to leave my vehicle
at Mingus Mill since parking can be a problem on busy days at this particular trail.   Mike hadn't slept well the previous night.  We were both weary from the earlier adventures in the day. About half of the mileage for the day would end up being off trail.   Yet, Mike was off the next day and had plans with his spouse, Shelley.      He said he so rarely had a Saturday off that and did not get over to the NC side of the Smokies as much as he'd like .  We both wanted to fit in a lot today.  

     Kenny and I were planning on going camping this weekend, but did not have to leave until Saturday morning.  If I got home this evening and we felt froggy and wanted to leave that was good too.   We'd go for it.   We both had checked out the waypoints and the track of the old manway to Smith Branch the evening before.   Mike had been in communication with Jenny Bennett who gave him the low down on where to pick up the manways start and a brief description of it.   Her trip report mentioned that she and whomever she hiked with  lost the manway at one point on the way to the falls.   We gauged it would be about a mile hike off trail one way.

          I really like Kephart Prong area. I had not seen the old CCC camp ruins.  I was looking
forward to the adventure.  I had not read Jenny's blog entry about this trip fully, but it was a small
matter.  We checked out the old CCC ruins.    We found the start of the manway without any real problem.   What transpired after that was a bonding of friends during a difficult experience. Self inflicted, but that's how we does.

Above and below.. ruins from the old CCC Camp. Civilian Conservation Corps back during the Depression Era.


    The woods were fairly open.  The temperature was perfect. We had a good day to do this.
We set out in the right general direction.   We saw some beautiful pink lady slippers on the way.

Clump of pink lady slipper orchids in the middle of the forest.

  We followed the old manway easily in places, but lost it in others. We'd pick it up again.
We were both experienced off trail hikers. Mike had the way point on the GPS.   We didn't have any real trouble until we trended down and began following Smith Branch on a side hill. I was running out of steam very rapidly.   I was hitting a wall physically and psychologically.   We did pass a pretty cascade down there which I wondered if that was it?  Yet we had not arrived at the split in the creek.
Finally I was  just over it. I was embarrassed and upset with myself, but out of energy. Still had to get back to the trailhead at least and not much to go on.    We rested.  I had that gut feeling from the lay of the land and the way the light was coming into the gorge that we were messing up.  Making this way harder than it had to be.    

          Mike lead us up onto the ridge top.  We did pick up a much better track up there.  We followed it out wide around the ridge and swung down and around.  The going was much easier.   Finally we began heading down since the terrain was getting worse again.   I saw the spring creek drainage we'd crossed and while we were now it is headwaters I knew we needed to trend down here.  
We followed it down and before long we re-crossed the spring seepage where we'd started the really bad stuff from there forward.     It was good to see it again. I knew we had the worst behind us.

          We made our way back out of there and eventually saw the Kephart Prong trail to our right.
Back past the hog trap and out onto the trail.   Ah!  It was a short distance to the vehicle.
Mike said something about me never wanting to go hiking with him again.  I reassured him that was NOT the case that we don't give up on each other. He accepts me flaws and all and I do as much for him.  That's what friends do.  Especially those of us who engage in this odd hobby. Our form of self flagellation.  We were hot, sweaty, dirty, scratched up. I found bruises upon bruises later.

          It will be done over.  I am moving this one up to the short list for Winter.
 Soon as the weather is cool and we have good rain fall we'll go back.    Its getting too snakey and hot and overgrown for this stuff.   Kenny says he'll go back and we'll make this a priority. It is a point of pride now to find that falls.    I am also going to print a photo to take along to recognize the cascade for sure when we arrive at it.  And failing to find it.. I will at least take photos of the one we did find.

           We lived to tell the tale and that is what counts.   Not the first time I've needed a do over.
Most assuredly won't be the last.

I don't know about Mike, but I arrived home sore as a boil and exhausted.  I was ready for the nursing home. We did not leave to go camping until Saturday morning! 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Barnett Knob Fire Tower--Return Trip

Closeup of Indian Paintbrush

Barnett Knob Fire Tower Return Trip 
Friday May 22, 2015
Dana Koogler
Mike Gourley

Total hike distance 1.5 miles approx. 

Photos are here beginning with frame 71
(Southern Fire Towers album)

Barnett Knob Pix

Below is a link to a Google Map showing the location of the tower.
Barnett Knob Tower Map

  Mike and I headed back toward Kephart Prong from Heintooga.  On the way we were yacking
and I pointed up to a gated spur road to our left and said "That road goes up to Barnett Knob Fire Tower".   Mike had been wanting to see that and was even more keen to see it when he learned the tower was still standing, could be climbed and that there was an old wardens cabin up there.  
It lies on the Qualla Boundary near Cherokee, North Carolina.  It is managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.     It is a short, easy hike to reach it.    Its about 3/4 mile up to it and back making it about 1 1/2 miles round trip.   I had hiked it in late Summer only once before.    

       We parked at the gate and gathered our gear and began our short stroll.   
The entire hike was pretty. I saw lots of late Spring wildflowers.  I saw more Indian paintbrush on this hike than I ever have seen before in my life!   Vaseys trillium was present. Puttyroot orchid.
One flowered cancer root.   It was really nice.  
Starting our walk up the old road

Indian paintbrush was all along the gravel road 

Puttyroot orchid

Vaseys trillium

One flowered cancer root.

    The old road curves around to the right and forms a loop around the tower and the cabin.
You can go either way.  We just continued straight.   I thought I saw a bird go into the weeds along the road.  I remarked about it to Mike.   I thought it was a turkey hen as it seemed pretty tall from the bare glimpse I had of it.   I began seeing movement in the weeds and brush and I heard hissing and a commotion.     Out came a mother grouse. Shades of de ja vu!  I remembered being flogged by a Mama grouse last Spring!  Out ran little mama grouse fussing at us and acting fierce. Out popped a couple tiny brown and black peeps.   They were so cute as they scattered.   She put on her best upset mother act.  I talked to her in soothing tones and gave her some space.   We got some photos of her, but this time I did not get any video footage worth sharing. I think I shot 3 seconds worth before she was gone.    She was not nearly as upset as the other mama grouse I encountered a year ago.
Still pretty angry though.

Little mama grouse defends her babies with a threat display.
A few steps more and we were at the tower itself.

Mike peering into the cabin at the back entrance. We went in cautiously.   We did not see anything bad. It is just dusty and dirty, but in fair shape.    I don't ever go in buildings like that without checking for critters.

View from up in the tower.  You cannot go into the cab but its still worth the climb for the views!

         We strolled around up there and enjoyed the views. We made our way back down carefully.
We finished the loop and back down the road we went.  It was another small adventure on a beautiful day!    

Blogging Basics Part 6-- More Advanced Tips and Tricks for Using HTML Code

Blogging Basics Part 6-- More Advanced Tips and Tricks for Using HTML Code

Dana Koogler

May 21, 2015

   Some time ago I wrote and posted a five part series of blog entries on blogging basics.
The progression of the information went from how to start and flowed along to part five
which got into the more technical aspects of writing some HTML code.  I had promised I'd write
up an addendum to expound upon writing HTML code and some more fun, advanced, geeky stuff 
for bloggers.  I've gotten a little feedback on the series and that  encouraged me to finish it.

           I preface the lessons with the reminder that some of the things I used to be able to cause a
web page to do are no longer possible.   I will try to include some of that, but it doesn't mean it will 
work.  One such example is that I used to be able to write up html code and insert an audio file.
It would make the page appear the same, but it had music embedded in its script.   I used it on the old
Waterfall Wanderings Yahoo group and my yahoo page back in the day.   Part of the problem is all
the fuss over copyright infringement.  Much of what used to be available for free in the way of audio files,
clip art and background art is no longer free or even available.  

   Writing HTML Code for a Link

A link  or hyper link is when you see a line of words that are highlighted on a page and you click on them and they take you to a photo, another webpage, a video, etc.  
HTML code is the script or set of instructions that permits that to happen correctly.  
HTML is an acronym for Hyper Text Markup Language. 
  1. Hypertext Markup Language, a standardized system for tagging text files to achieve font, color, graphic, and hyperlink effects on World Wide Web pages.

The code for writing a link is this:

<a href="">Tennessee Landforms</a>

Above the <a opens the script while the </a> closes it or finishes it like a period completes a sentence.
The portion in quotes is the web address you want to link to.
The Tennessee Landforms is what you want the link to say once it is written.  

BUT in order for this to work you must insert this code on a portion of the page that supports HTML code.
To do so on Blogger you go to the top left of the blog entry you're working on. Find the two tabs one marked
COMPOSE and the other HTML.  To get to the HTML side click on it.  
Once you have done so you will see the entirety of the blog entry you're working on and it won't look like normal type as it does under the COMPOSE tab.  Go to the spot on the HTML tab where you want to insert the script to make a link and put this script there by directly typing it or copy and paste it there.
See below that is what I have done and here is how it pops up looking once it is inserted to a part that supports HTML code.
Tennessee Landforms

Writing HTML Code for a Link to Open in a New Window

Using blogger it always opens any link in a new page, but not every format will do so.
When you run upon social media or blogger or web page formats that don't automatically
do that for you there is another HTML script that will open the hyper link in a new window.

It looks like this:

<a href="INSERT PAGE ADDRESS HERE" target="_blank">
Again if you insert this code into the portion that supports HTML code you can get a link to open in a separate window.  

Where I have typed INSERT PAGE ADDRESS HERE-- insert the URL for the web page which will look something like this

Where you see "_blank"> insert here what you want the page to show up as
Bridgestone Map 

In this script <a href="INSERT PAGE URL HERE"target="
opens the hyperlink
while again </a> closes it or finishes it off.

The link should look like this when typed

<a href=""target="_blank"Bridgestone Map</a>

The reason it does not open a real hot link on blogger when I type it this way?
You have to go to HTML tab and put this script over there for it to be live.

Applying Free HTML Script Code to your Blog Page

In part #5 of the blogging How To series... I discussed decorating or customizing your blog.
I sometimes create my own graphics to use from photos.  I have found another tool that gives me  lots of other options to have a pretty, customized blog.  A very simple way to make your blog look nice is to make use of the free HTML blog scripts out there on the internet.  
I may not have any photos to use that are suitable. I may be uninspired with what I have available to me. I may have a look in mind, but I'm unable to create it myself.  Try this tool:

(Dudes, be warned, most of these are girly)

Pick the one you want.
Click Install background
tab beside it.

This automatically copies the script of the blog background you want

Go to the LAYOUT tab on the dashboard of Blogger

Click ADD GADGET--and select ADD HTML 

in the ADD HTML box paste the script for the blogger background 

Then click preview to see how it looks.
If you like it... click SAVE and VIEW BLOG

Then you will have applied the free script to your blog.

This comes in various layouts such as three column, two column, etc

There are other websites out there which provide free blog scripts.

Making a Custom Header or Graphics--Using Fotoflexer 
Using Foto Flexer to Make Graphics

   Some folks like a traditional look to their blog title.
If that is what you want you can easily do that with tools available on blogger.
If you want to do away with the traditional title and make up something 
more unique and suited to you... you can do it using your own photos.

I found and began using Foto Flexer as a free editing tool

about a year ago when my favorite editing software bit the dust.
It is fairly simple.   

I'll try to walk you through it.   

Pick a photo. I usually try to pick something from the current season or recent doings.

Lets say its high Summer and I want a swimming hole background for my blog.
Here is a photo I took showing a swimming hole at Brewster Bridge.

go to Fotoflexer main page and UPLOAD the photo.

Fotoflexer can also be used to tune up a photo like this to adjust sharpness, color tune up, crop the image, and other things. I won't launch into that this lesson.  Just know that I do that as needed.  This image has been tone mapped already.  

What needs to happen to make it work for blogger as a title? It cannot be any bigger than 725 pixels wide.  On the BASIC tab of Fotoflexer once you have uploaded the image....
Go to the RE-SIZE tab under the image.

Change the numbers to 725 wide in the first box.  It will adjust the other box automatically to 483 pixels.  Make sure the Keep Proportions box is checked to keep your image the shape you want.   Then click APPLY.  

   I like to sometimes apply a border to my images. To do so go to the DECORATE tab on Fotoflexer.  Then click the BORDERS tab.  From the drop down menu pick what sort of border you might think looks nice.   If you try it and don't like it there is the UNDO button at the top left.  I picked a "Vignette" border. You can experiment with how wide you want it to be and what colors you'd like it to be. A tab will open up that says BORDER OPTIONS giving you a chance to pick colors, customize colors, and tune the size and strength of the border.

Once you have it how you like it click APPLY

I like to put my handle on the photo to complete the title.  

To put your title graphics on the photo stay under the DECORATE tab on Fotoflexer.

I go to the TEXT tab and click that.

New windows will open. One is a tool window.  It gives you options to pick the background of your title.   It also gives options on picking glittery text, shapes for your text background, text choices, and size choices.  Play around with it until you find what you like. You can always UNDO IT or start over.   

In my case I set the keyboard to All Caps and go into the second box it has opened for me.

In this box type your title.   The position that box where you want it on your photo.  
You can drag the box with the text to where you want it and continue to play around with it until you get it where you like it and want it.  Once you have it how you like it click APPLY.

Then go to the top box on the left and click SAVE.  Save the image to your computer.

Here is the one I just worked on while I was typing this lesson up.

This is a good time to mention I have begun putting a watermark on some of my photos as I had another batch stolen by an unscrupulous woman this past weekend.   You can use a text adding tool like Fotoflexer to mark your photos to help cut down on the chance of theft of your images.   It can't totally prevent it, but chances are such a lazy person who would steal work will not have the smarts or energy to remove the mark.  

Once you get your title photo how you want it.... 

Go to the LAYOUT tab under the DESIGN feature of Blogger on the top right of the home page of your blog. 

Click Layout and under the HEADER tab... it is on the left.
On the LAYOUT PAGE look for the HEADER button.  Click EDIT on that.

Make sure you click the selection INSTEAD OF TITLE AND DESCRIPTION

Upload the title image to your blog from your computer. 
Once it is there click SAVE!  
Then view your blog to make sure it looks ok.

There are other options you can try to put your blog description after the image etc.
Play around with that and see what you come up with that you may like. 
Life is different for different people.