Category: hiking

Hiking Lake Radnor

I finally made it out to Lake Radnor yesterday. I was expecting a popular, busy trail and that’s pretty much what I got. Since I planned to bike down to Mardi Gras Y’all in Nashville, I decided on the short option for the hike so it was only 3.77 miles according to RunKeeper.

Overall, the hike was easy because of the short distance. I was using it as a training hike so I had all my hiking gear… backpack, trekking poles etc and everybody else is just walking around in normal clothes and that made me feel out of place.

I’m trying not to be a hiking snob but “hiking” means something different to people here in Nashville than it does to me. Having easy access to all of the great hiking in East Tennessee while living in Crossville is something that’s shaped my definition of “hiking”. Hiking isn’t just walking in the woods on a trail; that’s fitness walking in the woods. For me, I want to feel like I’m going somewhere that would cause me to actually need the gear in my bag. If I see other people, they’ll be other intrepid adventurers like me, not a group of Japanese tourists in street clothes (and yes, that actually happened).

It is a nice place to visit and I’m positive I’ll go back to get my training miles in when I want something close. Below are all the media things.

Radnor Lake Hike

Radnor Lake
The trail!

 

Radnor Lake
Moar trail!

 

Radnor Lake
My expert woodcraft skills indicate there are beaver in the area.

 

Radnor Lake
The lake!

 

Radnor Lake
Turtle!

 

Radnor Lake
Deer!

 

I hiked John Litton Farm Loop trail today

Big South Fork: John Litton Farm Loop
Omgerd! Icicles!

On Saturday, Dave and I hiked the John Litton Farm Loop trail in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.

Winter hiking is one of my favorite things and even tho it was cold and windy to start, the hike was a nice little 6 mile hike. Dave said the hike is rated as moderate but I think I’d rate it as easy. Anyhoo, not much to say on my end other than I got to have some quality bro time and got some exercise in the the process.

Afterwards, I met up with Jessie since I was in the neighborhood; we got to hang out for over an hour and it was good.

Pictures and videos and things are below if you’re so interested. Flickr photo set here.

Track (1/4/14, 9:02:04AM) at EveryTrail

Big South Fork: John Litton Farm Loop
See? Ice!
Big South Fork: John Litton Farm Loop
Snow!

Big South Fork: John Litton Farm Loop

Trip Report: Cumberland Trail, Laurel Falls

On Saturday Jen and I hiked the Laurel Falls section of the Cumberland Trail. This was a pretty short hike as we only went to Laurel Falls plus Jen brought her DSLR so it ended up being more a photography hike than anything; we surely weren’t breaking any land speed records.

Directions

The directions on the Cumberland Trail website were pretty good so no complaints there.

The Hike

This was a leisurely hike with Jen taking lots of photos. We just took our time and enjoyed the scenery and Jen got to experiment with her camera settings and we ended up having a real good time. There were lots of people on the trail including two hiking clubs and various other people.

Track (1-26-13, 9-31-39AM) at EveryTrail

Laurel Falls
Laurel Falls
Hiking Laurel-Snow
This was me most of the hike… waiting for Jen to catch up after taking some photos. 😛

Hiking Laurel-Snow

Hiking Laurel-Snow

Hiking Laurel-Snow

Hiking Laurel-Snow

Hiking Laurel-Snow

Hiking Laurel-Snow
We made hot chocolate on the trail! Ha ha.

Resources

Trip Report: Cumberland Trail, Three Gorges, Possum & Rock Sections

Cumberland Trail

On Saturday I hiked some more of the Cumberland Trail. I wanted to do a longer hike so I decided to do both the Possum and Rock sections which ended up being 15.2 miles.

Title:    Cumberland Trail, Three Gorges, Possum & Rock Sections
Date:    10/27/12, 7:34:28 AM CDT
Distance:    15.24 mi
Time:    11:55:32
Average Speed:    1.3 mph
Ascent:    4,197.75 ft
Min/Max Altitude:    984.25 ft, 1,942.26 ft
Started:    10/27/12, 7:34:50 AM CDT – (35.34610, -85.17503)
Ended:    10/27/12, 5:39:16 PM CDT – (35.40995, -85.13085)

Directions

The directions on the Cumberland Trail web site were good for the Heiss Mountain trailhead (where I started). I was familiar with the area tho so perhaps that helped.

The Hike

The day promised to be a good day for hiking with a weather forecast in the mid and upper 40’s (not too hot!). I had planned to hike 17 miles, from the Heiss Mountain trailhead (Possum section) to the Lower Leggett trailhead (Rock section). I knew I had an option to shorten the hike to 15.2 miles by coming out at the Upper Leggett trailhead instead and I ended up taking the wimpy option and shorten the hike to 15.2 miles.

It had rained the night before and autumn is in full effect now so there were lots of wet leaves on the trail. This really drove home the point that I need some gortex boots and gaiters for fall/winter hiking because my feet were wet after about an hour. My feet weren’t cold but the last time I hiked with wet feet, I got some pretty bad blisters. This time was no exception but I was able to keep the blisters to a minimum by changing into fresh socks when I stopped for lunch.

The first half of the Possum section is a pretty nice hike. Lots of scenery as you hike up and down the gorges and cross over scenic creeks and rivers. I really enjoyed this part of the hike quite a bit and it’s probably my favorite part of the Cumberland Trail to date.

The last half of Possum isn’t so bad either but it’s just walking through the woods and there wasn’t much to take my mind from the blisters forming from wet socks.

The trail instructions from the Cumberland Trail website says you have to ford two creeks but I only had to ford one and I was able to rock hop using my trekking poles for balance without having to just walk through water.

I took a lunch break at the Rock section trailhead (after 10 miles) then continued, determined to finish. The first 1/3rd of the Rock section was pretty flat and featureless and I was glad of that honestly. I was tired and was glad not to have to go up or down for a while. The last half of the Rock section had some nice features but I was too tired to appreciate them and I was dreading the climb out of the gorge up to Leggett Rd. The trail was very rocky in this section and covered in leaves. Additionally, I was dog tired so the combination of a rocky trail, lots of leaves hiding the rocks and a very tired hiker made for a stumbling, bumbling climb.

I did see some people on this hike. I saw some photographers at the beginning of the Possum section and some trail runners about half way through Possum. Right before finishing the Rock section, I passed a Cub Scout pack (these kids must have only been 5-6 years old?) going to camping for the night.

Finally, having access to the “trail section” features from the Cumberland Trail website is really nice. I can verify my own GPS distance vs what’s on the website and I can easily see where I am on the trail map plus see what’s coming up next and how soon. I really love having it available so I’ve been downloading it on my iPhone before getting on the trail.

Lessons Learned

I need water proof boots and gaiters for fall/winter hiking. Wet leaves = wet feet and that’s been giving me blisters recently. I do wonder if the smart wool socks are causing the blisters because all of mine are pretty worn now. Perhaps some new socks will help with the blister problem with wet feet but wet feet will not be desirable the colder it gets.

I still need a system for fording. My plan was to cross in bare feet if it wasn’t too rocky. I also brought an extra pair of socks in case it was rocky with the expectation that my soaked boats would eventually just soak through the fresh socks anyway but it was better than nothing. Luckily, I didn’t have to wade through any water but my feet still got wet from wet leaves on the trail.

I need a head lamp. It was late in the afternoon when I came out at the Upper Leggett trailhead. Even if I had enough energy to continue onto the Lower Leggett trailhead, I didn’t feel like I could make it before the light started to fail. If I would have had a headlamp, this wouldn’t have been a concern. Additionally, I can use the headlamp for running in the evenings after work. When I ran on Thursday, it was completely dark when I got home.

I need to be able to start a fire. In the event that I get stuck out in the woods, I need to be able to start a fire. This means I need to acquire the materials and knowledge needed. It was completely dark by the time Jen picked me up and it wasn’t hard to imagine how sucky a night in the wet woods would have been.

I’m thinking about switching to a dedicated hiking gps device. I’ve been trying to make the iPhone and an app work but I’ve been struggling to find a good app. I use RunKeeper for the tracks but it doesn’t have any sort of navigation. I use Gaia GPS on the iPhone and that is the best app I’ve used but it has zero back end. It hooks into Everytrails.com but that’s not a very good site either. I want to be able to see detailed statistics like on RunKeeper and then easily share my hikes. I’m thinking about getting a Garmin of some sort but they’re expensive ($300 range).

Conclusion

I really enjoyed this hike, even though I had wet feet, some blisters and was bone tired at the end. I was fantasizing about what it would be like to be a thru hiker and having to get up and do this same distance and effort again. It would be hard to roll out of the bag to get started but I think once I got going again, it would be ok. I was really sore this morning.

I would rate this hike as strenuous because of distance (15.2 miles) and elevation (4197 ft).

I would definitely recommend these sections of the Cumberland Trail to anybody wanting to see some cool Tennessee scenery.

Resources

Cumberland Trail, Three Gorges, Possum & Rock Sections at EveryTrail

Trip Report: Cumberland Trail, Three Gorges Segment, Soddy Creek Section

2012-09-08 at 07.13.20

On Saturday I hiked another section of the Cumberland Trail; Three Gorges Segment, Soddy Creek Section.

Directions

I hiked the trail northbound from Mowbray Pike to Heiss Mountain Rd. The directions on the Cumberland Trail website (quoted below) for the Mowbray Pike trailhead were pretty decent with a couple minor differences. Mountain Rd is unmarked and was 1.0 miles after turning onto Dayton Pike (instead of 1.1). You’ll turn right before the Dollar Store. The trailhead was 2.4 miles according to my odometer instead of the 1.8 listed in the directions after turning onto Mountain Rd. I was about to turn around thinking I had missed it when I finally saw it.

From Chattanooga take US-27 north to Sequoyah Road in Daisy.  Turn right on Sequoyah Road and travel one-half mile to the intersection with Dayton Pike.  Turn left on Dayton Pike and proceed 1.1 mile to the intersection with Mountain Road.  Turn right on Mountain Road and proceed 1.8 miles to the trailhead on the right. (Note: Mountain Road becomes Mowbray Pike)

The Hike

The hike is listed as 16.1 miles and moderately strenuous so I was expecting a hard hike and I was not disappointed.  Plus, I was feeling a bit under the weather with a sore throat and the tickling in my chest. Not to be deterred, I decided to go ahead on the hike.

The fun started within the first part of the hike when I slipped hard on a slippery rock. It didn’t look slippery but the thing was coated in some sort of slime, I swear. My backpack caught part of the fall but my booty caught the majority of it. After lying there for 10-15 seconds, the systems check came back and said that nothing was seriously wrong. After checking myself out at home, I had a pretty angry looking, deep dark purple bruise on my booty!

About halfway through the hike, there are two creek crossings with no bridge (map) and it was right before deep creek that I got a bit turned around. The trail came to a spot and it split into a V. The trail to the left was marked with a sign with the word TRAIL on it. The trail to the right had the normal white blaze and went downhill. I opted for the blazed trail (partly because it went downhill and not up) and hiked down a few hundred feet to Deep Creek. Once I got down to the creek, it was very rocky and slippery and I opted to have part of my lunch and to weigh my options. I was a bit concerned because I couldn’t see any white blazes on the other side of the trail (only the pink surveyors’ ribbon) and the crossing seemed pretty treacherous. There was a swimming hole so I thought maybe this was just a spur trail to the swimming hole or that this was going to be a future part of the trail once the bridge was built. So after weighing my options, I convinced myself that the big giant sign with the word TRAIL on it must be the right way, climbed back up the few hundred feet and took the TRAIL trail. It turns out that this was a sign for the rock climbers… there is apparently a parking lot in that general direction and they access the rock bluffs across the creek. Gah. So after exploring that bit, turning back around and starting back down the hill, I met the only other people I saw on the trail. Three old men were hiking together and I was able to query them about where to cross and if that was the right way. By the time I got back down to the creek it had started to rain. I was a bit gun-shy of slippery rocks so I butt-scooted on a couple sections and managed to soak my pants in the process but my feet were perfectly fine. Better a wet butt and pants instead of taking another shot on the rear-end by falling. Plus, hiking with wet, cool pants was actually pretty nice after the humidity of the morning.

Next up was crossing Big Soddy Creek. There wasn’t a bridge here and no way to cross by rock hopping… even if there were, I’m not sure I’d trust the slippery rocks so I decided to just wade across. Luckily, the spot I crossed wasn’t very deep or wide but I did end up getting some wet feet and that turned out to be pretty significant. I’ve only had to ford a creek two other times and never with so many miles left to hike. After I crossed, I took off my boots and socks and tried to wring out my socks and pour the water out of my boots. Apparently, wet socks move a lot more than dry socks do. I managed to give myself at least 4 blisters including this massive thing.

The rest of the hike was pretty uneventful. I was progressively more miserable as my feet got worse and it continued to rain and I got more tired. There was a lot of mining evidence on the hike as well as lots of old trash dumps when the trail got close to a road. One other thing to note was the big wood spiders. On other trails, I’ve walked through a lot of spider webs and even if there was a spider on the web, I’d just brush it off without too big of a deal but these spiders were big! Bodies as big as my whole thumb! I managed to avoid walking directly into any with big spiders in them, although I did brush a few. *shivers*

Conclusion

There were some neat features along the trail, but nothing worth the effort that a 16 mile, moderately strenuous hike takes. I gained almost the same elevation as we did when we hiked Mount LeConte and with nothing even close to the views that LeConte has. I just remember thinking that the trail was meandering up and down mountains for no good reason. After getting home, I’d felt like I’d been in a fight and lost. Badly.

I tried a new lunch for hiking on this trip. I made peanut butter, chocolate and dried apricot wraps that I saw in the Backpacker magazine. I made myself two and they were pretty delicious and filling. I will for sure make these again for hiking.

Lessons Learned: I need a system for creek crossing. Hiking long miles in wet shoes isn’t good, period. I’m not sure if that means I need to get some water shoes or just bring extra socks but I’ll be doing some research. Additionally, I need to get my own water filter… my friend Dave let me borrow his and I had to use it about 3/4th of the way through. Next, I need bring a head lamp… it was getting dark towards the end of the trail and I was getting a little worried about making it out in time. Finally, I just feel like I need to be better prepared for an overnight stay if the need arises. If my feet would have gotten bad enough or if I ran out of day light I wouldn’t have been able to make a fire or anything. I wouldn’t have been in serious trouble because I had the water filter for water and I had a long sleeve base layer shirt and my rain jacket but not being able to build a fire would have been bad.

Resources:

 

Trip Report: Virgin Falls

Virgin Falls
Virgin Falls

In preparation for our Mt LeConte hike on August 25th, we hiked to Virgin Falls on Saturday.

Directions

Here is the Google maps link. It’s about 20 minutes from our house!

The Hike

This a pretty fun hike with two falls and a lot of interesting trail. It’s downhill mostly from the trailhead to Big Laurel falls (about 1/2 way) then it’s up hill on the way back of course. RunKeeper clocked it at 7.9 miles with 1512″ of elevation gain.

I’m not sure when the last rain was in the area but the first part of the trail was pretty wet and muddy. Jen slipped and banged her elbow pretty good on a rock. It was the first time I used my first aid kit for something other than ibuprofen!

Jen and Mike
Jen and Mike

There was only one serious blow down on the trail and it wasn’t too hard to navigate although Tyler managed to scrape his legs up show boating on it. This was the second time I got to use my first aid kit for something than ibuprofen!

Overall, we set a pretty leisurely pace and spent a lot of time hanging around at both falls so we didn’t make great time but we had a great time.

Conclusion

This is a fun, interesting hike real close to our house. I’d rate this hike on the lower end of moderate on the difficulty scale. LeConte is next week and I’m pretty stoked!

Resources:

Trip Report: Savage Gulf, Stone Door -> BGC -> BGR Trail

The Stone Door
The Stone Door

In preparation for our Mt LeConte hike on August 25th, we hiked in the Savage Gulf area on Saturday. We also met up with our new Twitter friend, Amber, her friend Chris and Amber’s daughter Madison for the first time. They’ll be joining us on our LeConte hike on the 25th too!

Directions

My friend David showed me where this was initially so I don’t have a website to link to. Here are the details tho:

Stone Door Ranger Station
1183 Stonedoor Rd
Beersheba Springs, TN 37305

Here is the link on Google Maps.

There are clean bathrooms and a water fountain right at the trail head. The first 1/2 mile is paved up to the first outlook but then it’s a regular trail the rest of the way.

The Hike

The route we took was Stone Door Ranger station to Stone Door. It’s only 1 mile from the trail head to the Stone Door. It’s a really cool natural feature and it’s right here in our back yard. After descending from Stone Door via the big Gulf Creek trail, the trail follows along the river before ascending to a camp ground and following the Big Gulf Rim trail back to Stone Door. We had planned to see Ranger Falls but it had rained hard the night before and what’s normally a dry river bed of boulders was way up and we couldn’t cross.

There was also a few fresh blow downs on the trail. One in particular seemed to be from the night before and was somewhat difficult to circumnavigate because of where it was located on the hillside. We had to climb a pretty steep and muddy hill, cross over and then slide back down to the trail.

Me ascending out of the gulf. Ouch!
Me ascending out of the gulf. Ouch!

This is a hike we’ve done a few times before, it’s one of my favorite hikes and it’s about an hour from my house. I would consider this hike on the upper end of moderate because of the distance (9.5 miles), rough terrain and the elevation gain (2264′ total). Even though I’ve done this hike 3 separate times, I’m somewhat surprised each time at how steep the climb out of the gulf is. This was Jen’s first training hike in preparation for LeConte and she was pretty pooped.

Resources:

Trip Report: Piney River Segment

White Pine Cascades
White Pine Cascades

As part of my 40 Before 40, I’m trying to hike every section of the Cumberland Trail. Today’s hike was the Piney River segment down near Spring City, TN. I actually started at the Newby Forest Branch Camp and Trailhead and hiked back to the East Piney River Trail Picnic Area Trailhead. I found the Newby Forest Branch Trailhead OK but I was a little unsure if I was on the right track as I was looking for it. Here are the directions from the website to the Newby Forest Branch Trailhead:

Drive past the East Piney River Picnic Area Trailhead. Continue to the top of the plateau and until you see the sign on the left pointing to Newby Branch Forest Camp. Follow the signs to the campsite and parking area.

I would revise this to say:

Drive past the East Piney River Picnic Area Trailhead. Continue to the top of the plateau and turn left onto Forest Camp Rd (1.2. miles past the Stinging Fork Falls trailhead). Note: Both Waze and RunKeeper identify this road as Forest Camp Rd. Look for a brown sign post on the left saying Newby Duskin. Next, stay right (another brown sign posts marks the way to Newby) at the fork to stay on Forest Camp Rd. Next, take the 2nd left into the camp ground and you’ll arrive at the trailhead on your right. Note: Forest Camp Rd is gravel and pretty rough with some washouts and such. A passenger car can make it but just be careful.

I got a real early start because I knew it was going to be a long hike. RunKeeper says I hiked 9.45 miles and climbed 2946 feet, although the elevation was generally down if you look at the RunKeeper profile. I enjoyed the hike quite a bit as the trail follows the river for a good portion of the hike and none of the elevation changes were very steep. There were a few sections of the trail that weren’t that well blazed and I had to back track at least once to find my missed turn. There were a few blow downs but they weren’t much of a problem.

This trail seemed to have a lot more spider webs across the trail than normal. I’m not sure if it’s just the right time of year for spiders or if this trail isn’t hiked very often but I must have walked through 25 webs (shudder). I saw a small garter snake (first snake of the year), several toads, some squirrels and lots of millipede.

I would rate this hike as moderate, mostly for distance and even the sloping elevation gains are hard after 7-8 miles. Lots of interesting features to see along Piney River and I didn’t see anybody until I was finished with my hike. On an enjoyment scale of 1-10, I’d rate this hike as a 7.

Resources:

Trip Report: Stinging Fork Falls

Stinging Fork Falls
Stinging Fork Falls

As part of my 40 Before 40, I’m trying to hike every section of the Cumberland Trail. Today’s hike was Stinging Fork Falls down near Spring City, TN. The trail head was easy to find using the directions from the Cumberland Trail site.

I started later than I normally like because I was up late last night goofing around on the Internet. Plus, I’ve been on this hike before and I knew it was pretty short. While it was a short distance, there are some steep sections of the trail that you’ll want to take your time with. The fact that I got a later start than normal, plus the humidity made for a really sweaty hike. There was only a couple minor blow downs across the trail and those were easy to navigate. It’s rained a fair amount the past couple weeks so the falls was pretty decent. All in all, an easy hike with a decent pay off at the end. I would still rate the hike as moderate though because of how steep the one section is.

I’m planning to hike up to LeConte lodge via Alum Cave trail on August 25th so I’m going to be ramping up the miles over the next few weeks.

Resources: