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Colditz Cove State Natural Area & Northrup Falls

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A friend of mine told me about this area a few weeks ago and I’ve been meaning to stop by and check it out.  I got up this morning with the idea to do that very thing, so I grabbed a quick breakfast, gassed up the Jeep and road trip!

The waterfall in this area was named for the family who settled there and operated a mill above the falls back in the 1800’s.  The high cliffs and cave like overhangs at the falls and along the creek gorge were once used by cliff-dwelling Woodland Indians over 3,000 years ago!

A few photos to take you along the way…

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I sat here for a good 40 minutes just listening and taking it all in.

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This area is a cool find, relaxing and just really enjoyable to finally see.

Below is a short video!

Cool Folks!

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Hey guys, I wanted to throw out some links tonight that I believe you’ll be interested in if you’re following my blog. All these folks are super cool, great hikers/campers and overall lovers of life and I thought I’d give them a shout out!  In no particular order..

Stick’s Blog (www.sticksblog.com) (Youtube)
Fronkey (Facebook) (Youtube) Also check out Trevor’s a/k/a Fronkey’s kickstarter here.
Shug Emery (via Youtube)
Tony Hobbs (via Youtube)
Medicine Man time lapse (via Youtube)

Here are a few AT hiker’s we’re following this year:
Cavey’s – (Facebook)
Walking With Wired (Facebook)
Red beard (Youtube)

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:

Chimney Top’s Trail GSMNP

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This Sunday, the son and I decided to take a road trip over to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and hike the Chimney Top’s Trail. I’ve been itching to do this trail for some time and with it being only 4 miles round trip, it was about the length we needed so that we could be back earlier Sunday evening.

The trail climbs about 1,400 feet in 2 miles and definitely makes for a steep trail. With all the rain from the previous day the trail was muddy in spots, but I have to say the trail crews have been busy and have made a lot of improvements. The construction is still in progress. The Trails Forever program is a cool program that’s getting this type of work done on many of the trails within the GSMNP. Check them out here.

For most of the hike, it was really foggy with a little drizzle. I was at first disappointed that we wouldn’t have the great views, but the fog actually added to the experience of the trail and I’m so glad we decided to go ahead and do it regardless of the weather. If you wait for the weather, you’ll never do anything! Below are some pics along the way…

Map of the area.

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Below is the new bridge that washed out in 2013.

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At this point you make a right to go on up to the Chimney Tops.  If you stay straight, you’ll come out at Newfound Gap and can continue out on the Appalachian trail towards Charlie’s Bunion.

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AJ exploring the base of the rock climb to the top.

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On the way back down, the sun starts to shine through the clouds.

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Here’s a Runkeeper of the hike.  Short video below.  Thanks for dropping by!

O&W Trail and Devil’s Den

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Hey guys!  Decided to head out on the trail again this weekend.  I’m having trouble at this point finding trails that don’t require me to drive 2+ hours to get too.  That’s ok, I’m ready to branch out, but this weekend I had limited time on Saturday so I decided to re-hike the O&W trail in Big South Fork National Park.  I’ve done this trail about 5 times now and it’s a nice 5 miler that goes along side the Big South Fork river, ascends some and ends at the O&W Bridge, which use to be a railroad bridge but now you can drive across.  Just this last week, I had heard that if you go on across the bridge you can jump onto a trail that will take you up to Devil’s Den.  After crossing the bridge, the sign said .5 miles to Devil’s Den and even though I needed to be heading back, I decided to hike on up and check it out.  Yes, I said UP.  That portion is entirely up.  Did I say it was up?  But at only .5 miles, it’s not too bad.  Ok, I decided to sit down once but what the hell, it was right next to a waterfall and why not take some time and take it all in?

Pic’s below:

Started off from my little “cabin”.  Went down to it Friday night for some much needed relaxation!

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Video below and Runkeeper here:

Burnt Mill Bridge Loop Trail

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Hey guys, thought I would update the blog with another hike from Big South Fork today.  I promise I’ll start branching out soon and doing some hiking in another area, most likely in the Smoky Mountains.  Today’s hike was a moderate 3.6 miler, even though I ended up doing closer to 5 miles because I thought I had missed a trail and had to backtrack, then return to my original location.  Pic’s below!

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Could barely find a parking place!

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The trail was really wet in a lot of places.  With all the rain we’ve had lately, I was unsure if the trail would be underwater since this is the first time doing this trail.  Other trails in BSF like O&W, Angel Rapids, etc.. are not passable after heavy rains.  I lucked out at the end (shown above).  2 days ago, this area was flooded and would have required backtracking the whole trail or up to a road crossing and walking the road back.  Either way would have doubled the mileage.

Had a blast today, was nice to be out in the beautiful weather and enjoy some much needed sunshine!

Thanks for tuning in.  Runkeeper here.  Short video below:

Angel Falls Overlook – Big South Fork

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I decided to do an overnight camp at my cabin, then head over to Big South Fork National Park for a hike this weekend. The trail was in good shape other than the last .10 of a mile to the summit. It was very icy. Here are some pics along the way and a short video at the end.

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Pictured above is of the bridge that you’re suppose to walk across to start this hike.  It’s damaged by flooding so you have to walk across the bigger bridge.  Not sure why they thought it a good idea to have a bridge like this…

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Destination is the start of the Grand Gap Loop then back.  The Grand Gap Loop is 6.8 miles in length.  I would have ran out of time if I had tried to do the loop all in one day.  This one will have to wait until the time changes in April.

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Lots of icicles!

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The trail follows along the side of the Big South Fork river for the  majority of the hike.

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The overlook above.  The trail has a few switchbacks up to this area, probably lending to the moderate/strenuous rating.

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This is where I turned around.  I had only .10 left to reach the overlook, but there was a lot of ice on the climb up and then cables you have to hold onto.  I couldn’t tell how much ice was on the edges and with having no microspikes and hiking solo, I thought I’d call it a bit short and return back down the trail.  When hiking alone, I try to be prepared and even keep in mind that if I had too, I could stay the night if something bad happened.  No need taking the chance though.  I’ll be back in early spring to finish this and the Grand Loop for sure.

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Video of the hike below and Runkeeper here:

Thanks for viewing!

-David 

Angel Falls Rapid Trail – Big South Fork National Park

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I decided on a whim to head out on a trip to BSFNP and hike the Angel Falls Trail. I’ve had this trail on my list for awhile now and it’s a short one at 4 miles round trip, so I decided to give it a go despite getting a late start.

The trail follows an old roadbed along the river to the rapids. Apparently, in the 1960’s a boulder was dynamited to make room for a canoe race thus creating a class III-IV rapids. The water was so high, I couldn’t see much detail to the rapids, but it was making a lot of noise!

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Check out the video 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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Twin Arches Loop Trail BSFNP

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A couple of weeks ago, Darrin and I decided on a whim to head out Saturday morning to Big South Fork National Park to explore around the Twin Arches Loop trail.

The Twin Arches trail is a .7 mile walk that will bring you to the Twin Arches Loop Trail. The Twin Arches Loop Trail is a total of 4.6 miles and is rated as Moderate in difficulty.

There are two arches, a north and south arch. The North Arch is 62 feet high and spans about 93 feet in length. The South Arch spans about 135 feet and is 103 feet high. I wasn’t expecting them to be as big as they were in person. The photos really don’t do it justice. I’ve lived in the area all my life and I’m just now getting out to explore the Big South Fork area. Lots of things to see here!

Trail map/elevation profile link here.

Trailhead:
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Steep steps leading down.
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At .7 miles we arrive at the arches.
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A short 1.1 miles past the arches we arrive at Charit Creek Lodge Hostel.
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Bears!!

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Lodge/Dining Room

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Kitchen
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On the kitchen porch, there was a large 5 day cooler with candy bars, sodas, waters, etc.. that you can buy for $1 each. Honor system. Leave a dollar, take an item.

Randy is the winter caretaker. Here he is showing a group of Boy Scouts how to make an alcohol stove out of a coke can.

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Randy explained that the Charit Creek Lodge is privately owned, but managed by the Park. Every year people can bid on who gets the service contract for the Lodge and they have a year to take care of all the customers, cooking, housing, etc.. before the contract is up. Randy agreed to help out the current contract holder for the next few months. I envy his job!

The Lodge has showers as well with heaters in the bathrooms to keep the pipes from freezing in the winter.

Privy/Showers
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A mile or so after leaving Charit Creek Lodge Hostel you will come upon Jake’s Place campsite. Darrin and Tommy stayed here once before on an overnight trip last year with Jason hiking in early that morning to finish the loop with them.

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Looks like a nice area and has a small creek running close by. You can see where a some people have setup camp and hung their food.

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Continuing on around the loop you will steadily climb and along the way you will see some awesome cliffs.

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Check out the video below:

Runkeeper of Hike

-David

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