Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snow Ride Campbell County

Snow Ride Campbell County

Sat. Jan. 23, 2016
Dana & Kenny Koogler 

  We only got 1/4  inch of snow in Blount County.  We decided we'd head to Campbell County and ride the new RZR in Sunquest/Royal Blue. We figured it would be pretty and fun.
We had several features there we wanted to check out.  We planned on hunting up 
Waterfall Hollow Branch Falls which we have yet to locate.  We wanted to revisit
the waterfall in Thirteen Hollow.  We wanted to see if there was a way to check out Number Twelve Hollow and find out of there were any waterfalls in there? I have not been to Town Rock yet and we thought we'd go see that.  We had all kinds of fun things planned.

    We figured since the only road that was bad at our place was the 1/2 mile out to Rt 411 from our lane...... and the trails start right off I-75 we'd be in great shape.  Well........ it did not turn out that way.  We wondered why no one was out trying to ride and enjoy the place when we arrived?   We were soon to find out.  The first reason was that it was COLD. Very cold and damp.  The second reason was that they got several inches of snow on Tuesday while we got 1/2 inch.  Tuesday's snow melted and refroze.  Then it snowed another six inches atop that icy mess.  It made it hard to get around in anything!   
            We parked alongside Flatwoods Road just past the Adult XXX World.
We took off from there and it wasn't long until we realized what a foolish idea we'd had.
The trails had so much snow and icy all the shrubs and bushes were bowed down in them.
Getting through was darn near impossible making slow going even slower.  Lots of downed trees in the trails.  Now and then we'd see an abandoned vehicle stuck in the road or alongside it.   We did see a few people later in the day. It was beautiful, but the cold and damp and wind was biting.     The new RZR 1000 performed great, but it doesn't matter what you have....... getting around in that stuff in deep snow atop ice is tough.

           We saw a few elk and some red birds and hawks.  We enjoyed the frozen forest.
We didn't take long to decide just how bad an idea this was. All we wanted then was to leave and get back to the truck and home. 

            We both ended up with sore throats despite how we bundled up. 
I learned that I needed warmer layers and hot hands for my mittens and boots.
We got home. I got in a hot bath.  I got warm and got in bed.  When I woke a few hours later my sore throat and upset stomach were gone.  I was no longer cold.  I do not want to do that again and neither does Kenny.

This is what Thirteen Hollow Falls looks like from a previous visit.  We'll go back but it is going to be no snow!

A few photos of elk and snow and the RZR and Kenny.  I looked a lot like him in that I had snow blown all over me. Even part of my hair was frozen!  

Monday, January 18, 2016

BIG SINK! 123'

BIG SINK 123' 

Saturday January 16, 2016

Dana & Kenny Koogler 

3.5 miles RT bushwhack 
20 mile RT ride

  Saturday January 16, 2016 was the first opportunity we had after hunting season ended to go into the Big Bottom Unit TWRA land to explore Big Sink.   I have listed the way point for it above.  
I also provided the BEFORE link to the blog entry I wrote about hunting sink holes to prove they contained waterfalls.   Out of eight sink holes listed I have explored one and I did find waterfalls a plenty in that one!   Many questions answered.  More questions raised by going in there!  

     Access was both more and less problematic than anticipated.  I predicted accurately that 1. we'd be able to reach them with out fording the Caney Fork and 2.  That there was a road or trail going all the way back in there.  We did not have to ford the Caney Fork so I was right on that.  There IS a trail going all the way back. We did not find it amidst the maze of trails in there until we had bushwhacked all the way there and were on our way back.   We finally figured out how to get there by trail and rode all the way back to where we had just explored!  We were then able to go back out closing our ride as a loop.   Once again we were successful, but we still managed to make it harder than it had to be.     

         We parked off Hwy 285 in Mooneyham and rode from there.  We got down in there and encountered a maze of trails.  We knew we had never been to some of this stuff before. We found out that Big Bottom Unit is far larger than we ever figured!  We ended up parking the RZR and locking it down and walking up the creek bed toward the waypoint.  We arrived at the first interesting thing at 
Little Sink Branch.  It was a low, wide cascade which falls and enters a swallet.   It was very pretty.
We had our lunch here.  

First Cascade on Little Sink Branch

Huge boulder sitting along the waterfall on Little Sink Branch

  We got going after we finished eating.  We worked our way to the right, forded the shallow stream, picked up the trail right above this and for awhile we did not bushwhack.  We walked a logging road.
We then left the road again and entered the woods and went right up a holler.   We eventually found the logging road again.  We continued on until we came to an old man made structure!  It was very weird seeing this hut out in the middle of nowhere.  It was likely a two room bunk house for loggers.

We also saw old bed springs, parts of a stove, human debris and trash.   

  Next we came to a chimney pile about 275 ft from the rim of the Big Sink 123' which pinged 
at this spot.  

 Mossy rocks of a dry stone chimney from a former house.
 This is what it looked like when the GPS pinged we had reached "Big Sink"

I could hear water back in that round hole.  It looks like it is a manmade entrance into the bank.  Maybe a spring house or a cold storage or both! 

         Kenny had continued on ahead of me and so I leisurely strolled on.  
I figured we'd come this far. I knew we were not quite at the very back of Big Sink.. the larger landform.   I wanted to make it all the way to the back. The old logging road continued. Kenny nowhere in sight so I went onward.   It was flat here.  I am walking through the flat bottom of a sink hole a lot like in White Oak Sinks in the Smokies!   I finally caught sight of Kenny ahead of me and he was yodeling for me to come on ahead.  I could see a big grin on his face.  A few steps more and I could hear water. I knew he had found something good!

Walking along the old logging road thru Big Sink.  Barren woods.

Beautiful waterfall at the back of Big Sink!

It flows right out of the rocky bluff and back into the ground.  All around are mossy, huge boulders!  Up the bluff to the right are more waterfalls and cascades!

Moss coats the boulders and trees

Another waterfall that flows thru the rocks and over them and re-enters the ground.

Beyond it is a rocky gully.  
Looking back down the gully beyond the one waterfall. No water!

 Pretty blue hole of water on up the stream. This stream does not have a name. 
Upper cascade on un-named stream. 

We climbed up the bluff and around the boulders and found more beauty!
We came down another way which was much easier.  Standing facing upstream you should pick the right side to go up. Either way will work but the right is easier and safer.

    We hiked back.  We found the RZR and our coats.   We played around until Kenny figured out which way lead to the falls. I was hollering by then because I was sure he was gonna drive us over  a cliff.     Yet he didn't and we made it!   We rode all the way there.
We went up and around to the left near the back of Big Sink and came out up in the pine plantation about 2 miles from the truck!  We had closed our loop.

         We had a great time. It was a beautiful adventure and very crazy and fun!
We got some exercise which I badly needed.  We figured it out.   We can hardly wait to go back for I am sure there is more to find!

 Below is a short video that shows the highlights of what we saw. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Rhododendron Creek Hike With the Family

Rhododendron Creek Hike With the Family

Sunday Jan. 3, 2016

Dana & Kenny Koogler
Crystal, Michael and Tessa Lindsey

1.5 miles round trip approx.

Crystal and Tessa
  Several Winters back we hiked Rhododendron Creek. We took our grandson Michael back when it was around age four.    We had such a good time and the photos were so pretty our daughter, Crystal (Mom of Michael and Tessa) wanted to go see it for herself.   We had been trying to get out to the Smokies more and not constantly run off to other areas to do things.
Adam was out of town at an archery show so while he was away we decided after church on Sunday would be an opportunity to get out as a family and do this hike.  We ran the idea past Crystal and she jumped at the chance.  We went to church together.  Afterwards we changed clothes and loaded our gear up.  We went over to her house to eat a quick sammige for lunch.
Once that was done we hit the road all piling into Nanny's jeep for the trip.  

            Tessa caught a few quick winks in the jeep on the ride.    It did not take too long though
to get to the park.   We piled out and got ready to hit the trail.   We started out with Crystal toting Tessa, but the creek crossing changed our minds.  There is only one crossing on the trip, but it was high water and just bad enough it was not going to be a dry one if we were not very careful.  We changed over with her wearing the daypack and me wearing Tessa in the baby carrier.    Kenny helped Michael get across by carrying him piggy back.   He then helped me sure Crystal got across ok.    The trail is really very good most of the way. It gets enough use to be easy to follow. It is not maintained though and there are places where you are on a narrow ledge or rock hopping the edge of the stream.  Other places you have to duck under logs fallen across the trail.  It is no big deal for an average hiker, but it is a little trickier with a baby on your back!   

        We tried to give the kids plenty of chances to play and run around. Tessa loves hiking trips, but  when there is a pretty scene she wants to experience it.. not just be carried along.
We did lots of stops to allow for rock throwing and messing round with sticks and such.

First good sized waterfall on the hike.
 Michael age 6 finds a good rock.
Papaw talking to Tessa about waterfalls. 

Above is a short video of the first falls and kids tossing rocks and talking about the place.
Me trying to tell Michael not to keep the rocks. He ended up throwing his keeper rocks later.
He did not want to carry them very far!

 Michael at the first waterfall.
 Another waterfall along the trek... low , layered sliding type cascade
 Michael being silly at the last falls.
Crystal at the last falls. We all enjoyed the hike.

        We promised the kids we'd go out to eat once we got done with the hike. Crystal had accurately predicted it would be about supper time when we got done. It was 5:30 pm when we arrived back at the jeep.  The whole hike was easy, fun, and we had no problems. It felt very satisfying to be out together getting some fresh air, sunshine, exercise. It also felt good to keep our word that we'd get Crystal up there to see it.  She found it extremely easy.

       Tessa got fussy the last bit. She was still sleep. I felt her head drop forward on the hood of my coat. She dozed off using my hood as a pillow.    She woke up near the end of the hike and was wanting to get down.  Wanting Mommy. Wanting to go get in the warm and eat.
We got back to the jeep.  We had a quick snack of oranges and chocolate to buy us time to get to Calhoun's in Gatlinburg.   We enjoyed a warm, cozy meal in a beautiful setting by the fire.
Tessa felt better and got a second wind.  She opened her silverware packet and brandished a fork at me saying "Nanny, I fight you!"  What a hilarious, fun day.

New Years Day Ride-- Four Wheeling at Tackett Creek

New Years Day Ride-- Four Wheeling at Tackett Creek

Friday Jan. 1, 2016

Dana & Kenny Koogler

Dan M.
Dan K.
41 mile loop

Tackett Creek via Carr Gap and back.

Photos are here starting with frame 301 
Tackett Creek New Years Ride Pix

Tackett Creek Google Map

   We had such a fun day on Thursday hiking and exploring off trail and finding waterfalls. 
Kenny went with me to do what I wanted.  Today I joined him in going four wheeling with his guy friends at Tackett Creek.   I wanted to prove I could hang in there with those dudes.   They are a rough bunch of cusses, but very likeable.   It was a cold morning and the forecast did not call for it to 
warm up much.  They missed it by a margin and it was not quite as cold as predicted. No one complained.  We were to meet Buck at Cracker Barrel for breakfast before the ride so all we needed to do to be ready was dress, get a quick cup of coffee and out the door we went.  
  Somebody has been cutting ruts in the shoulder of the road and the bank.  Was like this when we arrived.
Kenny, CD, Keith and Michael. up on the ridge.
 I usually doze in the truck on the way, but I was too excited for that. I had not been to Tackett 
Creek in several years. I had a feeling this was going to be a fun day.    Buck had beaten us to Cracker Barrel by a few minutes.  We had a nice breakfast and then continued up the road to meet the rest of the gang.    It was a group of riders just the right size to be fun, but not too many to keep up with.   It was great to see the old friends again and meet two new ones!  We continued up the road to the pull off for Carr Gap access to Tackett.   A few minutes later we were under way to start our day's adventures.  

       Dan Koener lead the ride. I like his style.  He is very considerate of who has seen and hasn't seen what interesting things along the way.  They have all found some new trails to add to the Carr Gap area. We both loved the new trail we started on. It avoided the rough, rocky mess on the main road of Carr Gap.   Instead we were climbing winding all through a forest coated in rime ice.  It was beautiful.  Rocky outcrops were here and there.  Knife edge ridges to follow.   Areas that were like a roller coaster up and down.   A great start to the day!

Tackett Creek 024

Frosty forest early in the day.

 This is the scene at the first overlook today.  Pretty!

    Not much view down into the valley though.

         We stopped at the overlook which did not have much of a view, but the rime ice made the forest beautiful.  Dan K said he hoped it would last and it did for the majority of the day!
Next we headed toward the Sand Cave and the falls.   Keith was not sure if he had seen it or not.
Michael for sure had not seen it.   It is always pretty. Today the falls was running real well. We parked the machines and anyone who wanted to view it walked up the rest of the way.

Sand Cave Waterfall

      We looped back around to the machines after a quick stop at Sand Cave to see the falls. They were running pretty good.    We then continued to the next phase........... down the roller coaster steep trail into No Business Holler.  I don't have any photos of what that was like. It was too scary to get the camera out. I love it, but it is not the place to be messing around with camera gear.  I am including a photo of one of the waterfalls at the bottom. I am also including a short video clip of part of the ride.
           Waterfall beside the trail in No Business Holler.


          We stopped just on the other side of No Business Holler and ate lunch.  The stream is beautiful. Stream and Trail become one down near the bottom.  The waterfall pictured above fills the trail and there is another stream coming in from the opposite side which also floods it.  Below is a 30 second video of the beauty of the area.

Shows it better than the photo did how the area looks.  Lots of water today!

This overlook is where we went next.    It is pretty.  We did not stay long here.   Below this is a small box canyon where I have always been able to hear water flowing.  I would love to have the chance to go down in there to explore. I think there may be a waterfall.

Pretty cascade near the trail.  We next headed toward Hangover Rock.  We went under that and kept going past the hemlock forest deep and dark.  There was more water coming down that holler than I had ever seen before.  Nice ribbons of satin white and lots of cascades. The next place we went was sketchy.  We continued past all these pretty rock formations and big cliffs. Suddenly the awareness came over me of where we were heading and what was about to happen.  Hell's Canyon.  We were going UP it.   I had been down it once, but never up it.  I was still trying to come to terms with that when we heard a loud crash.   We stopped and CD made the sign for flipped over.   We were on a hill so Kenny stayed with the machine while I jumped out to go see what had happened. It was Jody.  He slid of a rock and rolled over.  It looked bad initially, but then the motor was running and then Jody appeared so I knew all was ok.  We'd get him out of that fix.   They set up a snatch block and got his RZR righted.   Some of them went on up but Kenny decided he was not going to even try it on that slick, wet rock.   I knew he would not want me to be in the machine with him.  I walked up to the top of the hill to wait on him.   I snapped a few photos as I walked up.


 Michael and , Jody helping and Kenny in the RZR winching up.
 CD, Michael and Jody, Kenny in the RZR

The bluff at Hell's Canyon.

 View from the next overlook.   Rime ice still remains on the top of the mountain in the distance.
 Buck in his bad machine!  It was sure good to spend some time with him today.  I had  not heard him call me Lil Gal in a spell.  ;^D
View from the overlook we visited after the Hell's Canyon debacle. 

  Today the sun finally did come out.  At times we were getting snowed on. Other times it was sleet pellets.  Sometimes later in the day the rime was melting and falling on us.   It was a weird weather day. It warmed up to about 40 degrees, but it remained cold and my coat felt good.  I was also glad to have worn my long handles.  The clouds lifted enough to get a view of Norris Lake in the distance at last.   See the image below. 

We hit up Woodson Arch next.  It was neat as always.  Michael in his machine. He had not been here before and seemed to like it.  

     We pushed on toward closing the loop of our ride today.  Back up over V rock.   Buck found an alternate route up it on the side.  It was fun.   Jody and Dan trying to get up over it with CD looking on.   It was damp and that made it harder.

Above is a clip of Dan making it up V Rock

    We continued out the narrow ridge once everyone was up the rock and back together.
It was a pretty point in the day with partial views down off the mountain.

 Waterfall near the end of the ride at Tackett Creek.  We did this loop backwards today.
I did something I had not tried before. I climbed down into the area around the falls to get some different vantage points and photos. It has rock shelters on either side of it.  They were fixing flat tires so I had plenty of time for what I like to do.

Finally we parted company down at the rail grade.   I misunderstood and thought that Jody, Buck, Michael and Keith wanted to go do some more riding.   Dan, and CD had damage to tires and wanted to get out as quickly as possible before they had anymore trouble.    We went with them along the rail grade and back up Carr Gap which is a monstrously rocky sumbitch.   What I had not been clear on? Buck, Jody, Keith and Michael were not going to keep riding.. they just wanted to go back the way we came in since it avoided the really rocky Carr Gap Trail.   I wished later we had gone that way.
It was prettier, funner and a lot less rocky.   A few teeth jarring miles later we were back at the trucks.   We said our good byes and looked forward to the next time!  Dan says we need to hit up the upper end and go toward Middlesboro for more scenery and less rockiness!  I'm down with that!

What a great day. The next morning I was stove up head to toe. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Hilliard Falls?

Off Trail hunting waterfalls 

New Years Eve Hike--Hilliard Falls? 

Thursday Dec. 31, 2015

Dana & Kenny Koogler

1.5 miles RT approx. 
Photos are here starting with frame 96

Hilliard Falls Pix?

     I have done something to my right shoulder and at my appointment for my yearly check up
the doctor recommended I start physical therapy for it.   I started therapy in Maryville at 9:15 am on New Years Eve.    We wanted to get out and do some hiking and exploring. We both figured we'd best pick something close to home since we'd be getting a late start on our day.
The original plan was to go into Cades Cove and explore behind Kermit Caughron's old place.
I had visions of finding waterfalls back there.  After checking with Barb and with Mike Gourley that seemed less appealing.  They spoke of old home sites, but no waterfalls.  Neither of us cared anything about it at that point.  I tossed out several other ideas for Kenny and he liked the idea of going over toward Rhea County to explore.   I had been talking about my curiosity over the listing of Hilliard Falls on Tennessee landforms. It was intriguing to me because it had no photo shown and no height estimate.   We decided to go find out about it for ourselves.
Plan C was Paine Creek nearby if Hilliard Falls turned out to be a total bust.


           I was not done with physical therapy until 10:30 am.  Kenny was mostly ready to roll out.
I had him quickly look over the google map and satellite images of the trek today.   I printed out maps and off we went.   We stopped in Kingston to eat lunch at Zaxby's and with that over we continued toward Dayton.     Today's adventure lay atop Evensville Mountain closer to Summer City.    We rode along the plateau and without any real trouble found a powerline 
easement and parked off side the road.  We gathered our stuff up and began our hike.
It started with climbing over logs and through brush.  The day was mild and overcast.
The terrain was not too bad to begin with.  It followed the powerline and it was on a dirt track
that looked like it was being kept open by ATV travel.   We didn't go far until we passed a hunters blind turned over on its side. It looked funny.   We crossed a small stream and walked right through the way point hearing the GPS give its beep that indicates you have arrived at your destination.  No waterfall here. 

           The trail continued so we kept going.  It went left and curved down the hill where we could hear water a bit stronger to our left.   We went off the trail into the forest and came to this. 

     Certainly no waterfall, but the confluence of two streams, both flowing in the same direction.
We were now 280 ft from the original waypoint.   We had noticed a rock outcropping and a steep drop off on the satellite images before the hike. Before the trail started down the hill we were able to see the starts of the rocky place.  We headed back toward the trail and continued hoping that the way point was just off by a bit. Perhaps we'd find a falls down at this rocky drop off?     We hiked about another tenth of a mile and forded a stream.  We then went downhill and had to ford another time.   We climbed up a slight bluff and were able to get a vantage point of the stream below us.   It was a little closer to being a waterfall.   We were looking at a run of low cascades eight to ten feet high.   Further down the stream where it dropped off the mountain in the gorge was a single "waterfall" of 10 ft.   Was this Hilliard Falls?    We had found a neat overlook at least.

 Long, low series of cascades.  Hilliard Falls? If so the waypoint is off by 862 ft now.

I am standing on the overlook and seeing down the mountain at a rocky gorge.

  Kenny  and I both wanted to follow the trail we had been on out just a little further. It looked like it headed toward a second neat overlook.  We figured we'd walk out there since we had come this far and see the rest of what was here.   The overlook was very neat.  A piney woods and very craggy rocks with a view down off of Evensville Mountain at the valley below.  
It was nice.   Kenny began hollering "Holy smokes, Dana come out here.  There's a BIG waterfall!"  I went out to where he stood and looked off in the distance where he pointed.
Sure enough there was a large waterfall dropping off the side of the mountain. 
 Peering down thru the rocky cleft in the mountain
 Kenny out at the end of the overlook.  

A large powerful falls in the distance. 

This is the unzoomed view of the falls.  It doesn't look like much, but we could hear it roar
all the way from here.  

    We both began wondering if it would be possible to get round there to see it?  Hard to say from here.  We walked on out the ridge a short distance.  Kenny brought me to the edge of the bluff and told me to stay put while he scrambled down to see if it was going to be possible to continue.   It was no time until he hollered back to me to come on down.  We worked our way down the slopes through a tangle of logs and boulders. The woods were fairly open and we were not fighting rhododendron.    We got to a point down the slope where we could see the lower cascades in the stream boiling through massive boulders.   We did not have a ton of daylight left. Kenny  told me if I wanted to get photos of the lower cascades to go ahead and do that. While I was taking care of that detail he would go up the slope and see if there was a way to continue so that we could reach the main drop of the falls.     

        I got down there the rest of the way by myself and took photos and video of the lower drops.   It was neat, but not that great.  The boulders were so chopped up and large it made the 
stream seem tiny.  It was like that at Rock Castle gorge, but this not as attractive.   Part of the problem was trees blocking the view from lots of different angles.  Finally I put the camera away and decided I'd just head up the slope to see what was going on with Kenny.   About that time I heard the Hooty Hoo! I was hoping for. I knew what that meant! I toiled bravely up the hill.  It was steep!  I got up there and sat down by Kenny and died for a brief spell.   Once I had recovered my breath and gotten something to drink we continued toward the main falls.

Cascades through the boulders. Not a very good view of the lower part of the falls.

         The approach to the main falls is along the base of the bluff.   It is certainly not the hardest thing we've ever done.  The terrain is rugged though and it is narrow.  
It involves climbing around through boulders to arrive at the main part of the waterfall where it plunges off the mountain.   It looks like the main part of the falls is 50-60 ft high with a lower cascade part of 20 ft or so.  It is a nice waterfall and was very powerful. We were now 0.3 miles further than the original waypoint.  Was this Hilliard Falls?  Kenny believes so.  He thinks it is likely that the person who originally submitted the waypoint did a guesstimate plugging it into the google map where they believed it was.   And picked the wrong stream in the process.
That is possible, but at this point we do not know the answer.  I did not much care. All I knew was that we were having a fun, exciting adventure together.  It is greatly rewarding to find something like that and make it to the base of the falls to experience it up close!
First vantage point looking up at the falls. 

A closer, more intimate view of the falls.  

Below is a video that chronicles the journey and the various steps along the way.  

I have written to Tom Dunigan of Tennessee Landforms.   I am waiting his opinion on what is going on here?   I am eager to see if the Hilliard Falls waypoint is just misplaced and what we found is it.
or if what we found is an entirely different waterfall and will be added to the database as something new.   I will update the blog as I find out.

         We had an exciting day and it filled up our time!  We had no need of going anywhere else.
We  hiked back out to the jeep.  It was growing dark and the sun was starting to set.
We headed toward home.    The next morning I woke up wondering if it had all been a dream?

***Edited to Update***This is Mill Branch Falls.  Hilliard Falls has been removed from Tennessee landforms database. It still appears on google maps. Do not go looking for it unless you like snipe hunts. Kenny's first addition to Tennesee landforms!  We found something new!  Tennessee Landforms Waypoint for Mill Branch Falls