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Overnighter at Big South Fork O&W Bridge Trail!

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The fellas and I finally got back out on the trail for an over night camping trip. Real life, time schedules, etc.. has kept us from an overnight for far too long. Kelvin, Darrin and I were lucky enough to get out of work early and were able to hike in, setup camp, and gather firewood before Jason came in. Jason came in solo and was able to get into camp around dusk. We sat around for a little bit and started feeling rain drops and seeing flashes of lightning in the distance. You see..Jason has this bad habit of bringing in the rain on almost all over night camping trips he’s a part of. He didn’t disappoint on this trip! Jason quickly setup his tent and by that time everyone was taking shelter from the rain. I hadn’t brought any rain gear, so I went inside my tent while the other guys got under Darrin’s tarp. We all sat (I lied down) down and just BS’ed for about an hour or so, I believe Darrin ate the whole time. He brought in about 3 lbs of food and I believe he was trying to lighten the load for the hike out the next day.

Late night brought clear skies and the moon. It was very bright, but later on in the morning the clouds moved in and it started to rain again. The morning was foggy and I decided to walked down to the O&W Bridge to see the sun trying to burn off the fog. The rest of the morning was spent hanging out, eating pan cakes and just chilling before hiking out to the trail head.

Pic’s of the trip…

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Setting up camp.  Darrin and Kelvin like to hang from trees.  I’m thinking they are more evolved than I am. 🙂

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Heading out to filter water for the evening.

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This area is very popular so finding wood is a bit of a challenge.  We ventured out of camp a ways and found a couple dead trees that we cut up into pieces and pulled down into camp.  Darrin a/k/a McGyver has his homemade saw which came in very handy.

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Kelvin supervising and me documenting the supervising.

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Ah, we made Fire!!!

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Morning in the REI Half Dome Plus.  Love the extra room but not the weight.  I’m probably going to find a lighter two man version of this.  Also the O&W bridge right before the sun burnt the fog away.  Very nice hearing this river all night and being able to walk out to it in the morning.

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Stopped by the visitor center and picked up a good map of the area.

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Video of the trip below:

Laurel-Snow Falls

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Darrin, Jason, Mike and myself headed out this weekend to the Laurel/Snow Falls area in Dayton, TN.  This trail is part of the Cumberland Trail project that when completed will extend 300 miles from its northern terminus in the Cumberland Gap National Park (KY) to its southern terminus at the Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park located on Signal Mountain just outside Chattanooga, Tennessee.

We really enjoy camping/testing gear in this area because its only about 2 miles from the trailhead to the campsite.  Richland Creek Campsite sits very near the creek and provides plenty of water for filtering.

We were limited on time this trip so we hiked in Saturday morning and came back out Sunday morning.  There’s a total of about 12-13 miles of trail in this area but for this trip, we only covered about 4 miles of that.

Packed up and ready to go!

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The crew posing for a photo op.  I wasn’t expecting this many vehicles in the parking lot. The weather called for mid-50’s with a chance of rain on Saturday.

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My bearded friend Mike right before crossing over the metal bridge to the campsite.

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Darrin and Jason

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A few shots of our tents/hammock and relaxing.

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The area has been picked pretty clean of dead wood so while scouting round above camp and took this shot.

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Saturday morning.  Breakfast of champions!

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Jason photobombing my selfie pic.

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After breakfast, we decided to go ahead and get everything packed up.  We had been lucky and hadn’t had any rain and the last thing we wanted to do is pack up in the rain unless we had too.  On our way back to the trailhead it started misting rain and by the time we got out and to our lunch location it was getting really foggy and  the rain had set in.

Bimbo’s restaurant!  Burgers.

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First Hike of the Year! Big South Fork Twin Arches Loop

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Well, it is the first of the year and it came time to hit the trail again and so we was off to Big South Fork Country. We was really wanting to bring in the new year on a hike to bring in the new year but things didn’t work out for us to do that so we settled for the following week of which was just as good, in my opinion. The Twin Arches Loop is a trail that we had never done before so we was excited to get to do something that we had not seen yet.
Our crew on this journey was composed of myself, Darrin, and Kelvin. We left work a little early on Friday to hike in and camp overnight with the low’s suppose to be in the low 20’s. It took us close to an hour to get to the trail head and we was off.

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The distance to the arches is only about .7 of a mile and when we went on the trail you wind up walking right over one of the arches and have this kind of view right here.

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It didn’t take very long at all to get to the arches and so once we check these out for a few moments it is time to press on to our campsite which was another 2 miles away which we really wasn’t expecting for whatever reason so we get our map out to verify we are heading the right way and we were off.I wasn’t really able to get a good shot of the arches but I will show you what I did get.

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It takes us roughly about an hour to get on back to our campsite but on this little trek we were all doing something for the very first time and that was hiking in the dark with a head lamp, which in itself was pretty neat. Here is a small video of it.

So after we get in camp and rest for a few minutes we start to get camp set up. I get my tent set up and the other fellas get their hammocks up and then it was time for the hard part, in my opinion, and that was to find some dry wood, and in the dark mind you. We finally find some wood and a standing dead tree to get us going and, alas, the fire got built.

Our fire
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Kelvin warming by the fire.
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Darrin doing some whittling by the fire on a nice piece of cedar.
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After sitting by the fire we got our stoves out to cook us up some supper and got our belly’s full and we was set to go. We turned in around 10:30 or 11:00 and the temperature was around 23 at this time. I think the overnight low was around 20 for the night but it was no where as miserable as last year on the Honey Creek Loop where the lows was in the single digits. It had been a great hike in and I also got to try out some new toys that I had just gotten earlier in the week and that was my micro-stool to sit on and my brand new Sawyer water filter and they both worked like a champ.

We survive the night and get up around 7 or so, wake up a little bit, and then I do a morning video and behold what do we see at the end of the video? Hmmm! Let’s see!

Yeah that is our other man Jason on his way in as I was wrapping up filming. He wasn’t able to come in with us the previous night so he met us at our campsite to finish up the loop and check out the other parts of this trail. So we meander on to Slave Falls which is a 60 foot waterfall that we thought would be a cool side trail. It was a extra 3 miles and it was pretty neat but the falls was not flowing greatly but it was still a good thing to check out.

Slave Falls

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Video of Slave Falls

So after this side trail we get back to the trail head that would take us to the Charit Creek Lodge I believe it was a mile to a mile and a half once we got back to the trail head from Slave Falls. This is a pretty neat place that I wouldn’t mind staying at some point.

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Darrin by an old chimney

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Jason chillin’ and rocking the rocker!

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So after we ponder here for a few and check it out we decide that our belly’s was getting hungry so we start heading up to the trail head and when I say up I am not kidding.

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All in all we did roughly about 8 miles I think and after one more picture of our crew we got in our vehicles and headed to get some BBQ, our personal favorite at the BBQ Shack in Clarkrange. It did hit the spot that is for sure! So until next time I will see ya on the trail! Tommy

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2012 Year in Review!

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Well, another year has gone by really fast so I thought I would write a review of all the hikes that I got to take during this year. It seems like before you know it at the blink of a eye it is gone. Many times life gets in the way and there was many weekends that we all wanted to get in to the woods and do some backpacking but for one reason or another didn’t get to go. The first hike of this year we got to go on was what we call our Ol’ Faithful and that is Laurel Falls that is in Dayton,Tn. We usually go to do this hike because it is relatively close and the hike in is not real bad. We done this overnight hike on 1/20/12 and I will post a pic or two from each trip. On this trip Darrin and I went in with a very good chance of heavy rain and thunderstorms but if you wait on the weather all the time would we even really ever get of the house? It seems every time we have been on this hike it is always different sometimes the creeks are overflowing and sometimes it has been dry as a bone, however on this one it was the heaviest I had ever seen it flowing and I have been around 10 times the last 2 years. The morning we were to leave I was awoken by some mighty claps of thunder and lots of lightning so once we were up and got our breakfast in us we headed out in a mild rain but by the time we got about half way out it was mostly just sprinkling on us but the views we had on the way out were some like I had ever seen.

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Our next hike took us to Big South Fork Country where we done the Honey Creek Loop trail. We went on a day hike here on 1/27/12 to scout it out for a overnight trip. So it was Jason, Darrin, myself, and my 2 sons Levi and Jesse. This was a pretty cool trail that had plenty to see and one that I would like to do again.

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Now onto the coldest overnighter that any of us had ever attempted and let me tell you it was cold. So we had this planned for a while to go on this hike that is why we went and scouted a few weeks prior to be a little familiar with the area. It got down into the single digits that night but we did survive and live to tell about it anyways. Honey Creek Loop 2/11/12.

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Good thing we had a great fire!

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Now it is time for one of our trips to another of our favorite areas and that is the Great Smoky Mountains. This is a trip we had never done before so we was all excited on what it would bring and the trail and the payoff did not disappoint in the least. This trail is Ramsay’s Cascades and it is one of the longest flowing waterfalls in the GSM. This was on 3/10/12.

Beautiful Waterfall!
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Pictures here does not even come close to how huge this tree and many others in this area really were.
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Now to one of my all time favorite hikes thus far in my young hiking career and this one too is in the Great Smoky Mountains and it is none other than Mount LeConte, the third highest mountain in the Smokies. This was my brother’s first trek up this magical and mystical mountain. This one was on 4/21/12.

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I could sit here for a very long time and soak all this in!
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Well, it is now June the 1st, 2012 and we go back to Ol’ Faithful Laurel Falls again and it is unseasonably cold for this time of year and the water was one of the lowest that I had seen on this trip but none the less a great time was had by us all as usual.

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On July the 27th, 2012 once again it is Laurel Falls and it was a very hot hike in and there was yellow jackets and hornets a plenty but the falls was still flowing very nicely and we still had a great trip!

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Now you can see how it is by the sweat on my shirt in this one!
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Last but certainly not least is another hike that I had never done and it was a close drive on top of that. On 10/19/12 it was Virgin Falls Natural Area’s turn. It is located just outside of Crossville,Tn. I didn’t ever get a chance to blog on this one so I may say a little more on this section of the blog.

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Martha’s Pretty Point Overlook
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Virgin Falls
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On top of the falls!
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This was a very nice hike with a lot to see that is mostly down all the way to the Virgin Falls but on the way out, now that is a whole different story. We did the overlook on the way in which had some up to it and I am really glad that we did that because I sure didn’t feel like doing it on the way out do to all the uphill coming out.

Well, I guess that will do it for now I hope everyone has had a great year and may next year be better than this one for you. I only got to go on 8 hikes this year so hopefully this next year I can do more so until next time I will see you on the trail!!!! Tommy

The Prodigal Sons Return

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I am going to breakdown our trip to Colorado in two parts, the backpacking and the sight-seeing. The trip overall, was fantastic! We left the airport in Knoxville, TN at around 5:00am arriving in Grand Junction, CO at 10:30am. We had reserved the cheapest rental car we could and was suprised at getting a brand new Nissan Frontier crew cab 4×4 truck. Pictures and videos to come on the rental truck excursions!

Our backpacking schedule was to leave for Blue Lakes on Friday morning early and we got started right on time. We arrived at the trailhead, a lot farther away than we thought, about 10:00am. I think my pack weighed in at about 25 lbs. for this trip. We had food and clothes for two nights and three days that added up to more than what i thought.

The hike in was one of the most difficult hikes I have been on to date. The elevation, 9,000 at the trail head and over 11,100 at the camping area, was definately a surprise. I had a hard time catching my breathe on multiple occasions. We literally went 1/4 mile before we were really sucking air! The very last video is a time lapse video from Darrin’s GoPro HD camera of the entire trip up. Very cool stuff!

Enough chit-chat, I will add some pictures and videos. Feel free to comment or ask questions.




GoProHD

Jason

Laurel Falls Dayton,Tn

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So we had another opportunity to get outdoors this weekend and do a hiking/backpacking trip to the Laurel Falls area in Dayton, Tn. After work on Friday Kelvin and myself set out to see what this hike had in store for us. This hike is one of our favorite places to go mainly because it is not very far away maybe 45 minutes from where we work and about 40 to 45 minutes to hike back to where we camp at. So after we get to Dayton we decide to go and get a burger and onion rings from the Sonic down the road so we didn’t really have to cook anything for that night. So, after our supper we headed to Walgreen’s to get a couple of things then on to the trail head. Get to the trail head get our gear on and off we go and after about a mile or so we get to out first set of switchbacks and get up through part of the trail and we hear some kind of ruckus coming from the woods and gives us a good scare and a big ol’ turkey comes flying out!
There were a few trees down along the trail from storms but it wasn’t as bad as I have seen there by any means. Once we get up these switchbacks and across a metal bridge the trail splits to go to Laurel or to Snow Falls and we head toward the Snow Falls area campsites. After being here so many times you kind of know where you like to camp and lo and behold the one I like was there. Set my pack down and sit down to rest for a few and what do I see a bunch of yellow jacket bees! So, we head just over from there to set up camp. So after resting for real this time without any buzzing around of yellow jackets we start to set up camp. Kelvin brought his hammock with a Tyvek tarp that Darrin (aka McGyver) let him borrow and I brought my one-man Sierra Designs Lightyear 1 tent. Once this was done we gathered our fire wood that we needed and then we was off to filter some water for the evening. The water filter that we used was the new Sawyer Watering Filter System that Jason (aka Rainman) let us borrow. Once this was complete it was time for us to get our fire going and I had brought something new to try as my fire starter. It was made with melted wax and a cosmetic pad that I dipped it in and put it on wax paper to dry then they are ready to use. After all this is done we relax around the fire and eat some good homemade smoked beef jerky that I had made. So early this morning I get up around 5:30 and start a fire and wake up a bit we set out to go to the 3 bridges going toward Snow Falls and then we headed on to Laurel Falls to check it out. Then after fighting all the hornets nests going to the Falls we get there to check it out and it was flowing fairly well I thought. After our little expedition and fighting the hornet’s nests again we get back to camp to pack all of our gear up to head back to civilization. So we head to one of our favorite places to go after our hike to refuel and that was Mo Mo’s BBQ and it didn’t disappoint. So after all this rambling on about our trip I am now going to post some photos from our trip along with some videos of the water filter and the fire starters! So until next time I will see you on the trail.

Kelvin’s setup

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My setup

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Stacked rocks along the way

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Old Mine

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Skull Rock I like to call this one

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Massive rock along the creek

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Laurel Falls

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Kelvin @ Laurel Falls

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Me at Laurel Falls

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On the way back to the real world! A sweaty mess I was man it was hot!

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Now a few videos from our trip! First is the Sawyer Water Filtration System.

Fire starter video

At Laurel Falls

The Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter

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I arrived home from work to see my newly ordered Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter. I have been mooching water filter use from my friends for a long while, it’s time to get my own I suppose. I have read several reviews and I think the Sawyer has won over most filters in price as well as weight. I will do a more in depth video or blog post upon returning from our trip, but for now, I will post a YouTube video from my fellow blogger Stick. He posted this first look video a while back. The video is HERE

 

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