Monday, May 10, 2010

Hiking Black Mountain on a Perfect Spring Day

Perfect Hiking Day = May 5th on Black Mountain above Grassy Cove. 16 of us traveled up above Spring City, parked along the highway, and then walked up the road to the trailhead. From here, we troughed  through some wet, muddy area's, taking care over big, slippery rocks that lay like oversized landscape rocks on the trail. Deb was on the lookout for lady slippers and it wasn't long before we spotted a few pink one's tucked at the edge of the woods. Purple phlox bloomed here and there along the way to the first intersection where we caught up with Richard (surprise), Linda (who is fast establishing herself as one of the 'fast' hikers), Larry, J.D. and Gary. Here we took a right turn climbing gradually as we enjoyed  sights of wildflowers. We passed by Windless Cave and determined to stop there on the way back. When we took a left turn down a grade, we crossed a creek and began more of a climb, though still easy, and began to see more and more wildflowers: Foam Flower, False Solomon, Doll's Eyes, Squaw Root, May Apple, Fire Pink, Yellow Trillium, and even a Showy Orchis.
As we reached the top of the ridge, we again reached the fast group where Deb had already found a green Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Then it was a short hike to a specactular rock formations that can only be appreciated by standing in the middle with your eyes shut and imagining yourself alone a hundred years ago. We walked thru these and around to another set that had stairs to climb up to another ridge. Then it was not too far till we came to the old Gill Family Property where the spring house remains. A sparkling clean creek flows from underneath, still ready to keep milk icy cold! A short distance away amid weeds and small trees stands an old chimney. Reluctantly, I left this old home area to make my way on down the trail where we found Pink Ladyslipper heaven. They grew in patches all along the trail to the huge rock outcropping where we all enjoyed lunch. Several folks found pesky ticks trying to have their own lunch!

On the way back, Bob was determined to check out the parking lot (and no, I don't know why he has this obsession??) and so Gwen accompanied him down. Afterward, in my car he reported it was in good condition and we were all relieved to hear it!
The rest of us, went on a little jaunt to view the Northern Overlook and WOW...what a scenic spot! You can see for miles with Grassy Cove down below, Watts Bar Nuclear plant towers were visible, and mountains at a distance. Again, we enjoyed the sights of the flowers as we traveled back down the mountain. We stopped at the Windless Cave and enjoyed this restful spot before we went on down the trail, not quite ready to end this perfect day. When Bob and Gwen made it out, we all joined up and met at the Sonic in Dayton for a cold drink. After a stop in Sale Creek for strawberries in the late afternoon, we made it back to the parking lot at Sequoyah Crossing. Our spirits full after a beautiful hike.

Lost In The Crowd at Piney River Pocket Wilderness

On April 28th our Wednesday group took 22 hiking enthusiasts to explore 10 miles of this Pocket Wilderness. A few guys followed Bob up to the firetower while the car shuttle got in place and Debbie led a few of the ladies up the river. The ladies made it back in time to meet Che with the shuttle folks and we started out on the trail across from the picnic area on Shut-in Gap Road. It was an easy, gradual climb, carefully making our way over some slippery rocks. Somewhere along the way, Bob's group rejoined us, and we made it to a pretty area by the river with a suspension bridge (I think it was Piney River Bridge!). We regrouped, took a couple of photo's and got across the river. From here, it was a nice hike around the river until we took our lunch at a beautiful scenic spot on the river. Then it was every man/woman for him/herself!

Deb knew of a picturesque place at the back of a small waterfall that a few of us went to see. We were rewarded with viewing a Yellow Ladyslipper. This little spot was like a hidden forest haven, water falling gently over rocks, hardwoods shading the trail, gay wings blooming- it was worth the side trip. We met Che, Deb, Bob, Gary, and Gwen on the trail coming out, the others having went on out the main trail. The trail chronicler then lost her group- not exactly a bad thing as time alone in the woods is a treasure. I did see Fire Pink for the first time this year.

The trail was almost always near the sound of water, and the river was absolutely beautiful. At times it churned in a white froth and at times it meandered in a lazy flow, bumping over rocks in the water. Then there were gorgeous trees, ferns, a couple more bridges, and just a fantastic time scenic time on the trail.  I stopped and waited at the spur to Spider Den, hoping Che's group would get there and I could follow them down, but when they didn't show up after ten or so minutes, I continued on the trail. After a while, I ran into Celia and then John came up behind. I found out he had been down into Spider Den. We kept along the river for while before the trail turned back up on the ridge. It up seemed too short a time but we came out to the end and met up with Richard, Wayne, Gail, and Linda and others already waiting. After waiting for the rest of group, Richard et al decided they could leave and so they did. Another hour went by when finally we were all together again. Supposedly, we all made it off the mountain!