Friday, January 21, 2011

4.9 Segment of the Soddy Gorge on the Cumberland Trail

After a couple of weeks off due to the snowy weather, we had a revved up and ready 17 turn out to follow Don Deakins from the Cumberland Trail Volunteers on this portion of the Soddy Gorge. We shuttled over to start the trail on the newly constructed trailhead at Mobray Road. We were soon in the woods hiking on a trail covered with soft pine needles (Trish loved it!) Before you could say Cumberland Trail (almost) we were on the top of the ridge where the power lines crossed which provided a nice view of Soddy-Daisy area and the valley below.

Delving further into the woods, we crossed a rocky area near Mikel Creek that even in winter is a very scenic spot. We crossed the Creek, turning right and followed it for a distance and then found ourselves passing through the rocks at the amazing Little Indian Stone Door. Once through, there is a 'rock house' area to the left.

This, alone, is reason enough to work this portion of the Soddy Segment into your must-do hikes!

We continued along a ridge with tantalizing brow views to the right and enjoyed huge rock formations all along the trail on our left.
This view of a rock literally split by the life force of a tree is one of the reasons hikers love to get out and view nature.

A cascade of Partridge Berries growing on these rocks!

Descending this area, we found ourselves climbing up to Clemmons Point to follow the ridge where we encountered remnants of the coal minining industry so prevalent in this area from years gone by. We were actually on top of an old shale pile for a short distance with the mine cut off to our left.

Again, we descended this ridge to find ourselves hopping across a passage of Little Soddy Creek. Across the creek, there were some interesting foundations of the mining industry still visible, inviting exploration on another day. We ascended the nicely placed rocks to find the kiosk placed at the end where we found ourselves at Hotwater Road. Debbie, Wayne, and maybe a couple of others, backtracked and crossed Little Soddy to head up the ridge on that bend to wait on vehicles to pick them up on their way down to Mobray Road.

A very nice 4.9 mile hike with some fantastic folks! Most of us ended the morning with lunch at Rafael's..not exactly health food, but, hey, ya gotta have some kind of vice! The Trail Chronicler has decided that for this's food!

Spider Den Bluff With Cumberland Trail Volunteers

Yes, it was cold, but it didn't stop 21 (I think!) of us from making the trip to Piney River for a 6.5 mile round trip to and from the Spider Den.  After shuttling to the trailhead at Newby Branch Campground, we filed into the woods off to the right. Soon, we crossed a small bridge over the Branch and turned left, following the water until we turned away and crossed down a ridge to the Duskin Creek Bridge.

From here, we turned left and headed up and then down to wind alongside the tinkling creek. White Pine Cascades provided a spectacular view as we rushed by on the way up to the Spider Den turn down.

Wayne, Richard, and newbyTim reached the bottom and were searching for the 'rock' chairs and 'rock' table which were to be our lunch spot by Duskin Creek. Eventually, we found it and by the time the group arrived in spurts, the others had built a great fire. (Without Bob!!, but Bob, I'm sure it would have been better if you had done it!)

We enjoyed the warmth of the fire with our chocolate treat provided by Che and had some interesting conversation, institgated by Richard, surprise, surprise.

Wayne and Pete searched out the bluff with hanging icicles before we put the fire out and headed back.