Saturday, July 25, 2015

Brevard Play Time with Nanny Cookie and Michael


Brevard Play Time with Nanny Cookie and Michael

 Tuesday July 21 and Wednesday July 22, 2015

Dana Koogler & Michael Lindsey

Pictures are here: Brevard Play Pix

    I had been promising to take Michael to do some fun activities just the two of us.
Tuesday we left home and planned to play for a couple days.    We headed to Asheville's Fun Depot first.  We got there at 11:30 am and stayed until 4:30 pm.    For $36 we played all day for both of us.
We rode indoor go karts, played mini golf, we played duck pin bowling, air hockey, skee ball, various other games to win prizes.  They have an indoor Adventure Express for kids. It has two bouncy houses and two indoor playgrounds and plenty of space to run around.   It is all day fun.Michael spent an hour or more doing that. We also had a scavenger hunt with the staff there to find various sea creatures and animals.    We ate pizza there.  We had slushees there.   It was great fun. 
Once Michael was ready to cash in his tickets for prizes we got in the jeep and headed to Pisgah Forest to our hotel. I did not take any photos at Fun Depot. I wanted to play not be the photographer.

             We headed down the interstate toward Pisgah Forest. We hadn't gotten far when the backseat got quiet. I stole a glance in my rearview mirror to see a Michael taking a nap.   He was exhausted.
We checked into our room at Hampton Inn Pisgah Forest.   It was very nice.   We relaxed for about an hour while he watched cartoons.  We next went by K-mart in Brevard where we looked at toys and I got a few things I needed for the house.  We had dinner at Bojangles and went back to the hotel.
We let our dinner settle for a little bit.  We then changed into our swimming clothes and went to the pool.  We swam until it got dark. I''d say a little more than an hour.     We were tired.

        We went back to the room and got ready for bed and all dried off.   We watched The Flash on tv and turned in by 10 pm.   The lights couldn't have been off more than a minute after bedtime prayers and Michael was asleep.  He had played hard and was worn out. I was pretty tired myself. 

            The next morning I woke at 4:30 am with my back hurting.  I got up and moved around. I repositioned myself.   I tried various things to get it to stop.  I think I slept in a twist on that hotel mattress.   I had nothing with me for pain except childrens tylenol. Finally in desperation I read how many milligrams per teaspoon and dosed myself with enough to equal two regular strength adult tablets.  I understood after taking it why my grandchildren cry when I offer it to them for pain or fever.  It is horrible tasting.   I lay back down and finally got some more sleep and some relief.
        We packed up once we were awake.  We took our things down to the jeep.
Michael liked working the key card, running the elevator, and pushing the luggage rack. He is great help.   He is getting so big.   Once we had our gear stowed and our hotel key returned we sat down to enjoy a leisurely breakfast  at the hotel.   It was complimentary, but wow!  This hotel puts out quite a spread.  We eat light but satisfying and get going.

              The plan today was to go to Silvermont Park. Once the toy store opens at 10 am we'll go there as our next stop.   We thought we'd shop and eat lunch.  After lunch we'd go to see a few
waterfalls and Sliding Rock.    

    Silvermont was great.  We had no trouble finding it.   Below is a link to their website.

   Michael and some other children on the new playground.
 Michael with new toy.

They just completed the children's playground the first week of July.  It is brand spanking new.
Michael played there for about 45 minutes with me and the other children.  I checked out the grounds and gardens just giving them a quick once over.   It is very nice.  Basketball courts, tennis courts, new playground, picnic pavilion, nature trail, and mansion.   It is open as the senior center. It is open as an event center.  You can rent the grounds for events.  
          Michael sharing his new toys with a new friend! 

Silvermont Mansion is open to the public.

We headed toward the toy store a few minutes before 10 am.  I had a snafu with my tomtom
navigation device.   It had me going in circles for about fifteen minutes. Finally I got it straightened out and heading us the proper way.   Michael says I need to fire Babala that she gives me bad advice!
 Finally we arrived in downtown Brevard and got to park right by the O.P. Taylor's Toy Store.
I had not realized how big this place was!  It has seven rooms filled with toys. It is set up for play.
Michael enjoyed it and so did I.  He got to race slot cars with other little boys.  He got chased around the store by a remote control R2D2 and got to shoot him with a pop gun!   He used his money plus a little from Nanny to buy Miles from Tomorrowland!  O.P. Taylor's Toys I bought Tessa some things for her birthday which is coming up in September.  Miles from Tomorrowland

               I also went to Local Color as my next stop for the place I wanted to check out.
I really liked it.  They have many cool things to look at and buy.  I purchased a new paper star light
and a piece of artwork.    We headed out with our purchases.  

       We had lunch at Wendy's and then headed up to Pisgah Forest to see waterfalls.  
Babala began giving me bad advice again.  Michael looked sleepy.   I felt wrung out.
I pulled over and asked him what he was thinking?  He said he was ready to go home. 
He wanted to get back to Nanny's house in time to show Diesel his toys and play there awhile before Mommy came to pick him up.  So that is what we did.   No waterfalls this trip and no hiking.
We'd both had enough.    We had a 2 1/2 hour drive home to face.    We headed down the highway
stopping briefly at Ingles to put gasoline in the jeep and some Starbuck's coffee in Nanny.

               I had a great time and I hope we can do it again.  We need to take a family trip back this way and bring Tessa so she can experience Fun Depot and O.P. Taylor's also!


Michael and Big Bear outside the toy store.


 I guess dog's need toys too! 
 Local Color was two stores down.  Beautiful Brevard!

Friday, July 24, 2015

How to Find Waterfalls Part 4-- Seeking Waterfalls in the Cumberland Plateau

 How to Find Waterfalls Part 4

Seeking Waterfalls in the Cumberland Plateau

  Some time ago I wrote a three part series on how to find waterfalls.
It progresses from the first through third parts as beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
It was written as a response to the  current political climate of government agencies wanting
to charge fees for public lands.  I hope it has been interesting and helpful.   I had said
I would write a fourth blog entry in the series for the ultra waterfall geek. I started out to
do it months ago.  I reviewed the material and realized how unbelievably obsessive it seemed.
I put it aside awhile and let it simmer.  I reviewed the material again and felt no better about it.
I finally deleted the entry on the first attempt.

     Only four percent of persons who hike go off trail.  I'd bet that only half those go to the extremes to find waterfalls that I do. That means only 2% of people will find the third and fourth blog entries
useful or helpful.  I will write them and share them anyway.

   Entry number four pertains to the place where finding waterfalls is an additional challenge:
The Cumberland Plateau. The plateau is karst country having nearly ten thousand caves.
The geology is fascinating and beautiful ,but presents special circumstances
for locating waterfalls. They may emerge from the ground, fall, then disappear
underground again.   The falls may be entirely underground within a cave! Quite often the
streams in the plateau are not shown on maps because satellites map makers use cannot see them.
The stream may not flow above ground all year long.
I will tell my methods of doing this. Be warned!  It is very geeky and technical and yes,

         What is the Cumberland Plateau and Where Is It?

   I'll start by explaining for the unfamiliar what the Cumberland Plateau is.  It is a geographic region
that is the southern part of the larger Appalachian Plateau.  It includes much of East Kentucky,
runs down through middle Tennessee, and extends further south into northwest Georgia and northern
Alabama.   It is a table land that rises above the surrounding land to either side.  It is not mountains, but some have described it as a set of "inverted mountains".   It has deep canyons and here in this area they are known as "gulfs".   The plateau has one of the largest areas of continuous forest land
in the eastern United States.  I pointed out that it is a land of caves or "karst". I don't have a count that is one hundred percent accurate, but the last I read was ninety-five hundred known caves.

 The map above illustrates the outline of the Cumberland Plateau as it
 runs north to south, east to west.

 Motivating Factors--Why Look for Waterfalls in the Plateau or Anywhere Else?

   Why would anyone want to hunt waterfalls?  Waterfalls create negative ions which are beneficial
to both people and animals improving mood, strengthening the immune sytem, and creating better
overall health.    They purify the air in this way helping us feel better.   Why hunt waterfalls
in the Cumberland Plateau?  I can't say for others, but aside from the health benefits I can share
some of my motivating factors.   I like the adventure. I like the challenge. I like the comparative 
solitude of the region to the more heavily visited Great Smoky Mountains. I crave the isolation
of the areas where some of them occur.  I enjoy the ruggedness and ungroomed character of the
terrain.  I love them for their beauty.  I appreciate the sense of wonder that comes from finding them.
Finding a waterfall that perhaps no one has been aware of carries with it a sense of newness 
and a sense of discovery.  Exploring and finding waterfalls that are unknown also has for me a
sense of freedom. 


    I am going to try very hard to not re-write the third blog entry, but a quick review of one key element is probably in order.  I cannot bore the reader with repetition, but this is crucial.
Remember the lesson on How to Know a Waterfall Exists ?

 You need to re-read the third post and make sure before you move on to this stuff that you
have the other understood.   Know how to read a topographic map and "see" waterfalls on them.
The squared off U shape with the blue line crossing it still works in the Cumberland Plateau in many instances!  Don't let my descriptions of the intriguing and difficult cause  you to think the old
tried and true methods never work here, for they still do!

 Above is the answer key from the Find the Waterfall map quiz.  The red circles indicate
where the waterfalls are located.  You can do the same thing in the Cumberland Plateau.

  Resources to use are: 
Topographic maps of the area,
DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer for Tennesee, Kentucky, Georgia, or Alabama.
Google Maps
Google Earth--satellite view
Tennessee Landforms *
(pay close attention for this is gonna be on the quiz later and TN landforms is not going
to be ONLY used like you think! )
Local Knowledge
Websites for Cavers
Websites for Kayakers
ATV Trail Forums
State Forests

 Places to Look

ATV trails
Paper Company Lands aka Bowater or other timber company tracts
State Parks
National Parks or Recreation Areas
Wild and Scenic Rivers
Wildlife Management Areas
Abandoned housing developments
Abandoned business ventures -golf courses, resorts
State Natural Areas
Locally Known Areas that are OK to Go and Are visited but not advertised or well known by outsiders.
Review Guidebooks

    Methods and Techniques

   Now that I have listed the places to look maybe you're wondering how to make use
of them? How do I put feet on finding them?   I'll give you some examples of ways to think
and habits to get in that will surprise you.    When you go to a campground or resort to stay
a few days you'll no doubt need to check in to their office.   Be sure to check their pamphlets
or brochure in the office or that they hand out to guests.  Be sure to check their website for a
list of nearby attractions?

 Campground and Resort Brochures
Some campground owners have waterfalls on their grounds.
They do not advertise them to outsiders, but they keep them under wraps for their own guests.
Some campground owners have agreements with nearby landowners to permit their visitors
to access little known falls. Some will even have pamphlets printed up with directions.
Example:  Adventure Village in NC had brochure with Lemon Falls and Diamond Creek Falls listed.
I had never heard of either of those falls and they were right by the campground.  They were very worthwhile to visit and so close.   I later learned that some folks hunt and hunt for Lemon Falls.
Cathy and I used the brochure to go right to it.   This is also an example of local knowledge!

Talk to People and Let Them Know What You'd Like to Find

  Many folks will recollect areas they may have forgotten that are nearby and are Local Knowledge.
Places that are OK to visit, but maybe they've worn it out when they were in high school or college.
They haven't thought about the old party place in decades, but your mentioning looking for
waterfalls may bring it to mind.  Thus they can feel good about sharing the knowledge with you
and perhaps tell you 1. Its ok to visit. 2. How to get there.

ATV Riding
Folks often get caught up in the trap of being a purist.
I ride motorcycles. I don't hike.   is an example.
We ride four-wheelers. We also hike.  We bushwhack.
Consequently we tend to see places and find things not everyone does.
Our friends who ONLY hike or ONLY ride fourwheelers don't see or experience
the things we do by staying open.  Don't allow yourself to be pigeon holed.
Many wildlife management areas or four-wheeling areas have beautiful natural features
like waterfalls.
Access their forums and read up or post questions if you like

Cumberland Mudders ATV Forums

Windrock ATV Park    

Rainbow Falls and Cave above is an example of a falls that lies in a popular ATV and jeep riding area.    It emerges from the ground and flows right back into the ground without a stream.
Wildlife Management Areas

 Folks think of hunting and WMA's.   They are actually multi use areas much of the year.
Activities permitted include hiking, backpacking, camping, horseback riding,
mountain biking in addition to four wheeling, hunting and fishing. Observe the rules and be familiar with when hunting seasons start and stop. Wear blaze orange when it is required.
Don't be afraid to utilize these areas for many beautiful waterfalls occur here!

Make use of and participate in area grottos or caving organizations.
Some waterfalls occur inside caves and in most cases regular folks lack the
knowledge of ropes, cave navigation and all around experience to find those.
That doesn't mean you should NEVER go or try.  Let the grotto take you for a 
test run and see how you like it.  Caving is not for everyone, but some love it.
Tennessee has some awesome waterfall caves.   Below are a few links to just SOME
of the grottoes to be checked out. 

Upper Cumberland Grotto 

Nashville Grotto 
Bluegrass Grotto--Kentucky

Kayaking Websites  and Books

Kayakers are crazy and awesome folks. They list and name practically every drop on a stream.
This is very helpful even if you do not kayak!  They are the helper of the waterfall seeker whether they mean to be or not.

Waldens Ridge Whitewater--Creek Page

 A Word About State Parks and State Forests

    I've learned a few things about State Parks and State Forests.    Be careful of assumptions
about state parks you have previously visited and believe you know well.   Sometimes
state parks add on newly acquired tracts of land and they don't always share that information
with visitors immediately.  They may be building trails, creating better accesses, constructing
parking spots, having maps made up.   While they are doing this.. you can still access the
areas before the rest of the tourist crowds.   Access is usually legal by then for they have purchased the land and it is state property. They just aren't going to direct you there yet.   Examples of this are
Camps Gulf in Fall Creek Falls State Park, Dry Fork Gulf addition, Wheeler Farm addition. All accessible and all have waterfalls.    State Forests usually lie nearby state parks and often
are not touristy or well known.   They can contain hidden gems off the beaten track.
You won't know if you don't check.  Some examples are Bledsoe State Forest, Scott State Forest,
Standing Stone State Forest and Pickett State Forest.

 Paper Company Lands

     I mentioned that the Cumberland Plateau is one of the largest continuous tracts of forest in the
eastern USA.     Trees mean paper companies and tons of forestry services.  Bowater has been
very willing to permit visitors for the purpose of hiking and recreation as long as you aren't messing with their trees.   Check out maps and not always, but often, where there are paper companies and timber lands you can go to explore and hunt for waterfalls!  Some of our prettiest state natural areas
were gifted to us by Bowater.

 Abandoned Housing Developments and Resorts

Many areas of the Cumberland plateau have been attractive to developers of land.
The wide open spaces and cheaper land fuel their dreams of wealth, success and prosperity.
The reality quite often does not line up with their dreams. Lack of infrastructure. Relative poverty.
Lack of jobs to support a lifestyle.  All these things factor in and cause housing developments, golf courses, and resorts to flounder.  Sometimes these things come about because of outright swindlers.
Folks like that want to build near pretty natural features to take advantage of them as selling points.
Check to see if there are any in a given area and find out for yourself what is there.   Some established, NOT abandoned housing developments have been built around pretty natural features.
These areas sometimes allow folks to visit and enjoy the views or waterfalls contained there. Doesn't hurt to check!

  Review Guidebooks Especially Revised Editions and Updates!
  I have lots of guidebooks and I use them and read them all.   I have found that having so many
and having done this waterfall searching thing for awhile has lead to some complacency.
I had Russ Manning's Tennessee's South Cumberland -40 Hikes Edition sitting on the shelf at my home.  I did read it, but in re-reading it for the area I was planning on visiting I noticed something I had previously missed.   It has hike descriptions that mention several waterfalls I have not visited and are not even on the database!   Just because I had read it cover to cover when I checked it out of the library I believed I had a good knowledge of what was contained.   I failed to realize until later that the book I bought was a revised Third Edition.  It had some more good waterfalls tucked in there.
Check and check again! You may miss something.


Get out and explore, but before you do let me stack the deck in your favor with some useful
tools and techniques.

Before you go check out your maps, gazetteer, websites to research an area in addition to hiking guides.
Using Tennessee Landforms in Conjuction with Google Maps/Google Earth

Check out Tennessee landforms for the area.
Let me give you a demonstration of how I find some of the neat places I hunt up.
I'll show you what I do on here then I'll go and visit the place and let you know how it turns out!

Let's say I'm wanting to check out a waterfall on Tennessee landforms that does NOT have a photo.
No mention of its height or size.   Just a waypoint.  Hilliard Falls 
is the one I pick to explore.    I know it exists, but I don't know anything more about it.
The page lists it as Private.  Not on publicly accessible land.   Hmm... let me look a little closer at that.

Way point is 35.65056,-85.06111
Note: the above form of waypoint is metric and uses decimals. These are newer and work great with Google Earth or Google Maps.

Not knocking the google maps Tennessee landforms provides for each waterfall, but it lacks some features I like with Google Maps for easy use.

Let's take the Hilliard Falls waypoint and plug it in on Google Maps.
Make sure before you plug in the waypoint you are in "Terrain" mode.
This will show you not only the location of the waterfall, but the lay of the land.
You will need that to tell which way to approach it.

The star is the location of Hilliard Falls.  It shows you which roads to take to access it.
One of them is Bowater logging road!  That is good news.  That probably means
they don't care if you go long as you don't cut down their trees or mess with their logging equipment.
(not sure why sharing the map didn't remain in topo view)

With that bit of knowledge lets switch to SATELLITE view.
Click on the green square in the corner and it flips over to that view.

When I switch to satellite view I can easily zoom in and out.  I can see that there is a logging road, ungated leading from the road to a pull off. The logging road goes right down to the falls.
It appears it is being visited by locals. This is the kind of place I would take a chance to go down to see.   This technique will open a lot more possiblities to you.  It gives you the chance to see in reality
what a waterfall is near.  If it is by a house where people live... or behind a gate I would not try to see it.   Especially if it is posted.    We use this feature on our Smart TV to check on areas.
Sometimes during heavy rain fall you can even see waterfalls that are NOT on the database period.

Unexpected Places to Find Waterfalls on Tennessee Landforms

  You know now that Tennessee landforms contains categorized lists of waterfalls, arches, etc.
It also contains a few surprises.   Don't fail to check out the Sinkhole List
Go down the list and pick them out for the plateau. Take the way point for each sink hole and enter it
on Google Maps terrain view as you did for the above waterfall.  You can look and see if there is any sort of water feature in there?  A blue dot or a stream in a sinkhole can offer a promising lead to finding a seldom visited waterfall!   Remember though that there are a number of sinkholes in the plateau that do contain waterfalls and nothing shows up on the map!  They are worth checking out if you like lesser known places. One way to check to see if the sinkholes listed contain waterfalls?
Check them out on World Waterfall Database. 
The sinkholes are name.  Enter the name of the sinkhole followed by "Falls"  ex. XYZ Falls, Overton County, TN and that should bring up a waterfall with a name that corresponds to the sinkhole name. You can also be sure to check the location of it against the known position on the map.
I will warn you though.   It is going to make your list of places to explore a bit longer.
It may also not be real easy to reach some of these places.    We went and tried to reach a couple of these during warmer weather. Once the vegetation is grown up and it is hot and snakey it multiplies the difficulty level exponentially.   One such place was evidenced by a grove of trees in the middle of an otherwise empty pasture field.  No trail into it. Weeds and briars higher than your head.
I will go, but if I am going to get scratched up by briars at least I won't get snake bit to boot.

Here are two examples of sinkholes containing waterfalls.


 I found a useful tool it is good to check out before you get out and explore an area in real time.
Panoramio is a side function of Google Maps.   It is free. You can create your own account or just use it to explore as a guest.    I am interested in finding out of anyone has already been to see Hilliard Falls in Tennessee?   I can enter the search term Hilliard Falls and it should bring it up for me.
If anyone has been and visited and posted photos it will display them!   A good thing to do is to take your Tennessee landforms waypoints and use them to determine ahead of time if you are interested in going there.     I have found a number of good waterfalls thanks to Panoramio.   It is a fun tool for exploring and trip planning.   One example would be Garrett Mill Falls in Livingston, TN.
I knew from the waypoint and map that the waterfall was supposed to be on Garrett Mill Road.
Enter that as a search term and it does bring up a good photo of the falls!

Garrett Mill Falls comes out of a cave and there are multiple drops to it.

    I hope this blog entry will be a useful tool and inspire the reader to explore.
It brings me and my spouse and friends a lot of joy.   I cannot guarantee you success, but
I can guarantee you it will be an interesting journey.  Getting out exploring this way you will
see things you never expected and find beauty and humor along your path.

  Feel free to email me to let me know if this blog entry ends up being useful to you?!
I'd love hearing what you found.   Dana's Email Address

Also feel free to join those who appreciate the beauty of the plateau here:
Cumberland Plateau Facebook Group

I was serious when I said I would go to check out Hilliard Falls and report back what I find.
Photos, access, directions, if it sucks, etc.  :-)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Lesson of the Moth

The Lesson of the Moth 
Poem by Archy

i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires

why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense

plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
and excitement
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves

and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
the longevity

but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself

*This poem is a tribute to the memory of my friend Jenny Bennett.
She passed away doing what she loved to do. She was always willing to be part of the beauty.
It is hard for some to understand risk taking behavior, but to the risk taker, if it has to be explained you will never understand. 

Cloudless sulphur moth

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Four-Wheeling at Royal Blue with the Family

Canada lilies galore today!

Four-Wheeling at Royal Blue with the Family

Dana & Kenny Koogler
Chris Koogler
Matt Koogler
Allison Koogler
Mia Cole 

Saturday July 18, 2015

Total ride distance = 50 mile loop

Pictures are here beginning with frame 267


   My brother-in-law Chris, Kenny's baby brother, was down to Gatlinburg on vacation with his wife, Kelly. They also brought along their two children, my nephew Matt and niece Allison.
Matt has a special, steady girlfriend Mia Cole who also came along.   Matt has recovered completely from Ewing's sarcoma and Mia stood by him through it all. She is exceptional
for this and other reasons.  We were hoping to spend some time with them, but not wanting to 
take up all their vacation trip time.   We planned a get together for some trail riding. 
Matt got a Honda side by side from the Make A Wish foundation.  Chris is an excellent dad and  he purchased a Polaris RZR for Matt even before the Make A Wish foundation came through.  They brought the machines and came for a day of riding.  Virginia doesn't have
any really good places to go four wheeling aside from our farm or a few very small ATV areas.

      Tennessee has turned out to be Mecca for four-wheeling and off road adventures.
We set out to see some good stuff. We went to the Sundquist portion of Royal Blue Wildlife 
Management Area.  There are 130,000 acres plus to ride and explore.  

        We picked a loop that would be filled with beautiful scenery and provide a day of adventure for us all.  Kenny was there two weeks ago, but it had been a couple years for me
since I was there.   It has rained a lot recently so we were pleased. We figured there would be plenty of mud to make things interesting and the waterfalls should be flowing especially well for Summer.    We parked at the Oneida entrance and headed first toward Meadow Branch Twin Falls.   It is a pretty spot where two waterfalls come into the same gorge at right angles.

Uncle Kenny has dropped his reading glasses in the creek at the first falls.  I put on my water shoes and got in the stream and felt around to no avail. All we found was sticks and leaves and rocks. Bye bye glasses!
Meadow Branch Twin Falls with the two falls dropping in at right angles.  Really  gushing today!
Washing glasses down the drain...da dee dee dum...

     We had a lot we wanted to fit in today so we did not linger too long.  We headed on out the trail.
We enjoyed the forest how deep and green and shady it was.  The trails were an assortment of conditions.   All bad blown down trees cleared, but lots of mud pits to deal with and ruts. That's part of it.    We were working on our mud collection.  We came to a ford of the creek that was deep. It helps to wash off the mud.   We hit that and then later another one.  We all had a good laugh over splashing in the creek. Below is a short video of me hyena laughing as the others cross.

 We are all across on dry land
 That's a lot of water to cross. We crossed in one more place that had a foot of water in the floorboards!  glub glub glub...

      We kept on checking the map periodically to make all the needed connections to get clear round the WMA so we could get to the other side.    We stopped by a frog pond and ate a bite of lunch.
We continued on across the countryside through pretty forests. We finally reached our turn onto Hickory Creek Trail.  It is a pretty trail and I recalled alot of neat things seen along it in the past.  We were heading down a hill and I looked toward the drivers side on the left and saw red flowers in the forest.  I made Kenny stop at once. I knew it was Canada lilies and I was right!  I waded out through poison ivy to get photos of them.
Canada lilies are not real common in Tennessee. They are more common further north.

  We stopped by Hickory Falls aka Barley Falls.   It is a small, scenic waterfall which truly is on Hickory Creek instead of Barley Creek.   There were butterflies everywhere.  I had an Eastern comma butterfly land on my shirt, my head and my elbow and stay for awhile.

 Nephew Matt at the top of Hickory Falls.
Eastern Comma butterfly.

         We headed on toward Town Rock which was the next thing Kenny wanted to show us.
It was a pretty ride but the day was growing hot.  We passed lots of pretty Summer wildflowers.
I saw Joe Pye weed, woodland sunflowers, Saint Johnswort, rosebay rhododendron, and purple phlox.   The woods were spicy and green. I was soaking up sunshine, blue skies, sweet breezes intermingled with guffs of sulphur smelling swamp gas now and then from mud holes.  Getting flecked with mud and sunburned lips and arms. I could taste the grit and dust now and then.

     We got out toward Rock Creek and Kenny nor I was exactly sure which way to go next.
I remember that to our right Rock Creek lane dead ended. I also remembered that to our left was Rock Creek Falls a short distance further. I remembered that beyond that was a paved road and homes.   Kenny used his Phone a Friend for the day and called Buck Coward. Thank goodness for Buck! He saved the day.  He got us oriented and heading on the right track in short order.  While Kenny talked to him getting better directions .. the trail to Town Rock is NOT on the maps!..... we checked out Rock Creek Falls. I checked out yet more Canada lilies.

Top 2 frames.. Canada lilies
Bottom frame-20 ft tall Rock Creek Falls is a roadside attraction!

     We were hot and Chris was tired.  They weren't feeling it anymore and I was sympathetic with that.  We talked it over and decided to head back toward the truck the shortest, simplest, fastest way possible.    We trucked out McCormick Cemetery Rd and Flatwoods Road and before too long we were dusty and hot, but made it back in one piece.   I had a good time.  I hope they'll come back and do it again sometime.   We have a great family and I love them all. Like Betty Butterfield says "We're blessed, we're blessed, we're blessed, we're blessed! We don't deserve it but yes, we're blessed!"

View out over the Cumberland Mountains on our ride back to the truck.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Bob Stratton Bald With Kenny

Crown of turks cap lilies.

Bob Stratton Bald With Kenny
Sunday July 12, 2015

Dana & Kenny Koogler

Total hike distance 5. 8 miles *
Pictures are here beginning with frame 196
Bob Stratton Bald 2015 Pix  

    I try to make it up to Bob Stratton Bald every July when the turks cap lilies are in bloom.
Last year I went later than I ever had before.  It was a good day and I had nice weather for
my hike, but I had waited until the lilies were past peak.   I determined I was not going to do
that again if I could help it.   I had wanted for some time to get Kenny up there to check it 
out for himself. He had never experienced it and I wanted him to at least try it. He agreed he
could use some exercise and said he would go with me.    

     I explained to him the various routes offering the main two. 
Route Option #1 Beech Gap out Fodderstack and up to Bob's Bald at a moderate 
grade and a total hike distance of about 6 miles.   
 Route Optin #2--Wolf Laurel to Stratton Bald Trail and out to Bob's Bald with a more
strenuous grade at about 3.5 miles.  

 He opted for shorter, steeper so Wolf Laurel it was. Part of the attraction for Kenny to go up
via Wolf Laurel was that he knew he had been up there a long time ago, but did not recall much about it.  The second thing was we love driving old backroads.  The third thing was seeing 
waterfalls along the way.    We had a nice drive out the Cherohala Skyway and he remembered
more about the route than he thought.  We turned at Stratton Meadows road and continued.
We were already seeing huge patches of crimson bee balm along the road and tall spires of turks cap lilies.    
               You'll never seen any larger, prettier patches of crimson bee balm than occur
along the Cherohala Skyway and its side roads.


On the way in we were stopped checking out wildflowers and could hear Santeetlah Creek roaring below us in the rhodo. We were only able to get one small glimpse of it, but from that
and the sound we were not surprised to find that Cold Branch was one cascade and waterfall 
after another! I didn't have to ask twice before Kenny pulled over and we bushwhacked down the bank to view it.  Most water I ever saw coming over this falls ever. More than worth the stop to see it.

Here is a short video of this pretty waterfall


   We continued our pretty drive winding up and up the mountain to Wolf Laurel.
We finally arrived at the trail head and found no one there which is typical.  We had seen all of
one other vehicle on the road today.   We gathered our gear and up the trail we went.


Horse Mint reminds me of a Dr. Seuss flower. 

      The trail is not bad in most places.  It is pretty straight forward, but I had done it numerous time
previously.    I am also a map geek and spend too much time daydreaming and gazing at maps.
The trail in its lower reaches is in excellent condition and well maintained even for wilderness standards.    It goes up and after a climb it benches out and rolls along gently for a spell.  It has
several spots along it that mess with you making you think you're coming to some intersection or you've come to a the top of the ridge only to learn you have more to do.   Some work arounds have been created by people cutting trail.  Some are logical in avoiding washed out sections of trail and blown down trees.  Other work arounds make no sense and lead to potential confusion for the hiker
who has not been here before.   I had told Kenny about the first trips I made where I was bushwhacking through walls of briars in order to continue.  Last Summer I encountered ALL
the bad sections cleared completely which was a lovely surprise.   I told him I expected it to be
a piece of cake today thanks to that.  Oh what a liar that statement made of me. No trail maintenance
has been done since last Summer to clear the briars. Cutting them back has made them rebound
vigorously and given one more season with no clipping and they'll be back to as bad as they
ever were or maybe worse!  

"There's no more going back this way. The path is overgrown and strewn with thorns."

 Stratton Bald trail

Interesting rock formations along the path.  Many fins of rock thrust up from the Appalachian orogeny.   I always love this trail.. briars and all.


A partial view north toward the lake.  


Kenny admiring the rock fins along our way.

     We sat down just before we reached the ridge line and ate lunch.  We had grown very hungry.
It was 12:45 pm.   We brought subs and so we sat down on a log to eat and rest.    It began raining
just as we finished eating.  We got going again.  I covered my pack with my rain coat, but
left it loose so I didn't sweat to death on the climb.  It wasn't long until the light rain quit.
We only got damp enough to be cooled off and enjoyed the rain.   I was trucking right along on the ridge with Kenny ahead of me.   The next thing I knew I was down.   I fell hard. I was crossing a low
rock in the trail that was damp and slippery.   I heard myself go down hard enough to knock the wind
out of me.   I hit my head and upper back on the rock as I went down.  I saw stars, but once I realized
what had happened I did have sense enough to sit still.  I quickly did a self assessment before I allowed myself to move a muscle.   Kenny came running back with a horrified look on his face.
I was feeling around to see what I had done to myself.  Thank the Lord I was ok.  My backpack
shielded my back and head from the fall.  My hair was clipped up and even the hair clip kept my head
from making contact with the rock the way it would had I gone down without it.  I was ok.
My left hand and arm had some red marks on them from the way I hit. Later Kenny would find one
small red spot on my back but that was it. No pone on my head.  No bleeding or anything.

I realized how fortunate I was and I took his fussing at me for I deserved it. I had scared him. I had scared myself. I was not paying good attention to where I was walking. I think I became over confident because I was not alone so I was being sloppy.  I could still get hurt solo, but I know I am far more attentive to my surroundings when the only help I have is me!

        We pushed on through briar patches up top and wound along the ridge.  Finally
the forest began to transition in earnest.  Kenny has hiked enough that he picked up on it right away
that we were nearing the bald.  We entered the balsam zone and enjoyed a brief walk through that portion of the trail.  Before that we went through the rock fins and some nice grassy patches and spots where seven foot tall patches of turks cap lilies lit the woods like candles.  Pink rosebay rhodo dotted the woods all along the path today.  We had moments of fog drifting past us. It was surreal!
Balsam zone along the trail.

  I had promised Kenny there was one more briar patch after the balsam zone and then the trail
would open up to the main bald.  It did and it really pleased me to hear him exclaim when he looked out and got his first glance at the bald in its glory!

East side of Bob's Bald.  The fragrance of the phlox was powerful when we stepped out of the briar patch!

     The sun came out on the bald and we were drying off and cooling.  We had a nice breeze
at times.    It felt good up here. We wandered around checking things out.  We even explored parts of the bald I had not visited before. I don't feel as bold when I am all alone and tend to stick to the main part of the bald.    We had a gorgeous view in the distance of the Snowbird Mountains to the south.

View across Bob Stratton Bald to the foggy Snowbird Mountains south of us.

See this nice grassy patch of ground? Yesterday being here in this spot helped me come to a realization.  Kenny married me for three reasons 1. I am weak minded and easily lead. 2. I don't learn from things the first time.  3. I have questionable morals.    He easily talked me into a love making session here in this beautiful, seemingly secluded place.   He later told me just as we began our hike back that he found it is a cut off trail that goes from an unofficial access off Fodderstack to here.
We either never learn or we never care.... or maybe both.

           We wandered around the top for a good while together and separately.
It was beautiful,but we were here before peak bloom. The orchids I saw last year were mere pips.
The bald was still lovely, but the turks cap lilies were not fully bloomed out yet.  Tassel rue was out, but only two or three clumps of it.  I had to work for shots today.  Most of the lilies were tucked away
in the margins with only a few out on the main part of the bald. 

      We made our way back off the bald and just took our time.   It only took us about three hours or so to see everything and get back.  We motored along pretty good taking few breaks on either the way up or the way down.    The main rest periods were eating and me .. falling!

         Back in the jeep we turned on some good music and headed back toward Tellico Plains.
It was very chill with my sweetie along. I was so glad he came with me.   How else can I be a dissolute freak and pervert if he doesn't accompany me?  We both remarked how quiet it was today. We saw very few people all day or vehicles.   It was nice, but the Skyway is usually busy in Summer on weekends.  Today was not like that at all.    It seemed a little odd.   We stopped at Turkey Creek Road and turned aside for me to go visit a cascade I had learned of from Paul Gamble.   Today I finally figured out how to reach it and it was worth the side trip.   Wrapping up your days adventures
standing in a cool mountain stream surrounded by beauty with the golden evening sun at your back is about as good as it gets.   I could feel the soft breath of Summer and just start to see the pink gold
alpenglow that comes round these parts.   I am blessed indeed.

Cascade at the old grist mill site along Turkey Creek.  Thanks Paul.

Below is a short video of this beautiful falls.


**Correction on Trip Mileage**
7/14/2015 --Last night in reading Tim Homan's guidebook I found the description of this hike
and my math on the mileage from another trip. I still find it hard to believe because the trip is so 
easy, but the one way distance is 2.9 miles.  Here is the breakdown on it for myself for future reference.   Wolf Laurel spur trail 0.2 miles from the parking area to the intersection with Stratton Bald Trail.  From there it is another 2.7 miles up to Bob Stratton Bald.   Making it 2.9 miles one way.
2.9 miles x 2= 5.8 miles round trip.  Visual comparison on the map doesn't do anything to convince me this is accurate, but I think it is because the map is not a really good scale map. I would say we  hiked an additional 1/2 to 3/4 mile just ambling around up on the top.  Whenever I go to a grassy bald I almost always entirely cross it. That would make our round trip milage closer to 6.3 miles.
Sorry for the confusion.