Friday, March 4, 2011

Little Frog on March 2

Including our leader, Gary Smith, we had 20 meet at Power House No. 3 near Thunder Rock and shuttle up to the trailhead a couple of miles away.  We jumped on the trail together, but ended up making our way in 3 groups. The usual suspects were in front! Richard, formerly known as Rabbit, and now identified as Cougar (is that better?), sprinted ahead with Wayne, Monty, J.D., Larry, and Debbie. Then, there was Che, John, Arlene, the Chronicler, Bill and Patti strung out in the middle. Che and John hung back to hike with Cecile, Susan, Ray, Diane, Bob, and Cynthia. 

We hiked up and down the ridges that connects the mountain range, all the while at a good, steady climb. There were a couple of spots with trees down and it required some scrambling over, under or through.We were teased with  tantalizing views of mountaintops when we were on top of the ridges. I'm pretty sure we saw Sassafras Knob. Eventually, we made it to scenic Rock Creek. To get to the other side, one had to rock hop or, as some did, cover their boots with plastic bags.

The early birds had their lunch and enjoyed chatting and watching the others show up and maneuver across the creek! We were all together for a short while and then, with permission from Che, the faster groups started out again. However, it was noted after we left that we didn't get our chocolate!! Che was still across the creek when we left. (NOTE TO SELF: Stay where Che is for chocolate!!)

These last 3+ miles were enjoyable as we started out alongside the creek piled with boulders and rushing water descending down the mountain. The trail undulated beside the water for a good distance.

Despite a lingering winter chill, this area fairly burst with lush shades of green from several varieties of moss. We took time to inspect this one rock which had at least four types!

Eventually, we began to climb up and away from the creek
and we came to the top of the ridge with the trail marker. We all stopped to check out the signs and get our bearings before turning left and angling down the mountain. Larry had some issues with the distance. I think he questioned Lou..who was quoting, Gary..but's all good. :-)

We enjoyed a burst of energy when we caught sight of the tower at the Powerhouse. Soon, we were crossing the highway and joining the Cougar group. We found out the over-achiever had taken off up the highway to fetch a vehicle back to us. Now that's what I call a good guy. He shuttled Debbie and I up to get our vehicles, and when we got back to the Powerhouse, the other group was emerging from the trail. It was a beautiful day, and a great hike with some wonderful folks! By the way, Che dispensed the much sought after chocolate at the Powerhouse! We love our Che!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rock Creek on February 23rd

We can't do the Cumberland Trail without Don Deakins and the Cumberland Trail Volunteers, and such was the case on Wednesday when their group combined with ours to swell the number to 32! We met at Leggett Road and shuttled over to Retro  Huges Road. From here, we huddled for a group picture and that was the last time we were all together! Richard a/k/a Rabbit took off with Wayne, Larry, Stormy, Karis, and others. Soon, they were way ahead and we didn't see them again until we stopped near the end of the hike for lunch.

A couple of miles in, we had passed beautiful rock formations, pine woods, and rhododendrom thickets as we descended into Rock Creek Gorge. Fortuately, there was a ladder to climb a small bluff which took us down a trail to the very nice 80-foot Rock Creek Bridge. We climbed up and turned right before slowly descending to a trail that followed the creek for a distance, passing a comfortable looking campsite to the right. We passed Leggett Branch with the cascades to the left. There were huge rock formations all along the trail, inviting exploration; someday! We passed several wooden bridges: Rocky Branch Bridge, Flat Branch Bridge, and then Boiling Springs Bridge. We had a great scenic spur at Rock Creek Overlook.

After crossing Boiling Springs bridge, we began a gradual but steady climb to ascend to the Rock Creek Loop Trail. After reaching the top, we turned right and met Richard, Stormy, and Karis.

They had their lunch and some interesting conversation (later reported!) and had to take on off to get Richard back early. The late-comers hiked 1.5 miles down to Leggett Point and enjoyed lunch on rock outcroppings with the sun warming the area.

 It was a real treat after many lunches in the cold weather this last winter. Finally, we headed out and very soon reached the Upper Leggett Road Trailhead where cars were waiting to shuttle those that needed to back to Retro-Hughes Road.

Franklin State Park and Mary Bobo's

On February 16th, we had a huge group show up for two easy hikes in Franklin State Park..I think it was 30!? After a drive over to Sewanee, we parked and made short work of approx. 1.7 miles in and out to Tom Pack Falls. We hiked around a short bluff and then scrambled down to check out the waterfalls.

Then we had to climb back up the hill we had scrambled down to view the falls.

When we were back up to our cars, we loaded up and headed back down the road, where we did 3+ miles.

Here we plunged in to the woods and did a bit of meandering. The trail was good, company even better, and it soon we arrived at a bluff overlook. From this vantage point, we were looking back at Sand Mtn. and Lookout Mtn. just beyond.

Then, it got a bit confusing. There was some dividing of the troops so to speak, and quite a few headed out to do a longer hike while the remainder enjoyed the pictuesque drive to Lynchburg so we could stuff out faces at Mary Bobo's Restaurant!

This place was unbelievable and, except for the group being separated into different rooms, it couldn't have been a nicer experience!