Fall Vacation 2019
This trip was a combined vacation / ASEE SE Executive meeting and took place from Oct 14 -> Oct 18, 2019.
Got to Tim's Ford State park at about 3pm and took up residence in cabin #8 after being greeted by to of the friendliest state employees I have ever met. I was staved since I did not stop for lunch so I decided to to an early huge dinner. started the charcoal and had a big ribeye steak with a baked (well microwaved) potato. also had two Einstok Islandic Beers. Great dinner, but I have never gotten so drunk off of two beers in my life. went behind the cabin, still drunk, and took a little fall (probably would have fallen with or without the buzz...but it made me numb enough not to really notice. Got some pics then went back inside and took a nap. next thing I know it is 5:30.
Did get a small 0.55 mile hike in on the Clifton Doyal Trail while the sun was setting (probably more like a mile when including the walk to / from the cabin). Nice shots of the lake from the trail. Did see an armadillo and two dear, but too dark to get a photo).
Took a little stroll. Saw another armadillo and a beautiful oct moon. had to grab my camera and go back out to get pics.
Woke up and did the usual morning routine. decided to hike the Old Spann House Trail (4.7 miles with loop - or lollypop as the wonderful ladies at the park office put it) Nice trail, pretty flat, with some places to see the lake. Saw a bunch of deer (think I got at least one pic). Since summer lasted into Oct this year (the 90 deg days only just stopped a week ago) there was very little sign of it being fall. Did pick up a bunch of trash from one of my picture taking stops by the lake (four bottles, blown out tevas and a snuff can), so I went beyond the 'leave no trace' ethos. upon returning to the car, and getting rid of the trash, I did stop by the Aviary to see the owls and hawk...shame they will never fly again, but thankfully they are educating others about these magnificent birds. The hike did show I am out of shape (no shock). A few years ago I could have done that trail in half the time and not even broken a sweat, especially since it was the perfect hiking temperature. While writing this I FINNALY got good shots of a woodpecker. I must admit I have seen more wildlife at this park than any other: deer, armadillos, bats (last night during one of two walks), snakes, and birds (woodpeckers and bluebirds to name just two of many).
Doing lots of reading over the last 24h. Finished Chuck Ebersol's 'Friendly Little Markers' (Hiking the Appalachian Trail Volume One). He had THE BEST description of the Mahoosuc Notch (p428) I have read! (See Below)
"Mahoosuc Natch is indeed unique. There is nothing on the trail to compare with it. Imagine two tremendous mountains with faces steeply inclined, coming together at a sharp angle where they meet at the bottom. Imagin this sharp angle stretched out for almost a mile. Imagine house-sized boulders tumbling down those mountains-sides to lodge at the bottom in a jumbled mass, alongside and atop of each other. At some places the narrow notch at the bottom was completely filled with boulders, but there were huge cracks and crevices and niches existing as cavelike spaces. This jumbled and confused mess is Mahoosuc Notch. The familiar white blazes, augmented by painted arrows, point out the tortuous pathway. The trail leads around, between, behind, in and out, through, over, and under these mammoth boulders. You can't get lost. You are hemmed in by the steep-faced mountains on either side. You can only go forward or backward. In the notch you are never out of sight of either blazes or directional arrows. Most places in the notch can be walked through, but boulder clambering is necessary in several instances and passage though the cavelike places is possible by sometimes crouching, sometimes crawling on hands and knees. At other places it is necessary to take your pack off and either push it ahead of you or drag it after you, as the passage is too small for you and your pack at the same time."
I also finally got to read 'The Legend of Baltimore Jack' by Dan Koeppel (Sep 5, 2019 Outside Magazine) (archived) that my boss sent me weeks ago. I knew he had "ghosts" but the article did a great job bringing out both sides (man and trail legend).
Took a walk on the bike trail (paved) from the cabin to beyond the bridge and back (2.4 miles). Weather turned cloudy and breezy and 72 deg with some touch of humidity. Pictures show how grey it has become since this morning. Needed to walk a bit to limber up, but probably overdid it just a bit. Hope I can move tomorrow.
Add turtles and the darkest chipmunks I have ever seen to the list of animals.
took a quick walk around. saw 2 armadillos and heard a large deer bolt off. No stars due to cloud cover, no moon either (and 2 days ago was a full moon). Clouds must be thick.
it rained last night and the morning was grey, cool and breezy. Woke to the sound of a cow mooing, well that is what it sounded like, but I think it was the wind either moving the plastic chair on the patio or blowing though some crack somewhere so it sounded like a very deep grass whistle. Either way it made me laugh.
Weather said it would get nice so I didn't change my plans to hike. got out the door around 8:40 and drove to the park office and trail head for the Lost Creek Overlook Trail. hit the trail and got to the first swinging bridge. I seem to be getting better at these since this one didn't phase me at all even though it was fairly high above ground level (it did help that it was recently replanked and no one else was on it). kept on hiking, stopping at every lake overlook I could and taking lots of photos. Saw a few deer and did ok on the second swinging bridge (although this one was a little harder for me than the last, I made it with little trouble). Got to the overlook and trail intersection. took the Marble Plains Loop trail counter clock wise to the trail intersection with the Ray Branch Shoreline Trail. Did about 2.25 miles on this trail before almost loosing it and then seeing that you had to cross a ravine via two downed trees lying across....that is when I said 'it's time to turn around'. Stopped for a break and lunch before heading back. Got back to the trail intersection and took the Marble Plains Loop trail counter clock wise once again (to complete the whole loop).got back to the overlook and took another break. the sun was out now and the sky was almost clear. Sat in the sun a bit, ate a snack and watch a turkey buzzard circle right in front of me. decided to take the Lost Creek Overlook Trail back (I considered the paved Overlook Trail, but my feet much prefer dirt to pavement). Got over both swinging bridges without a thought. was almost scared out of my wits by a woman with her little dog who snuck up on me when I was at the shoreline taking photos, didn't even hear them coming until she said 'we're not going to be in your way are we?' I must have looked terrified because she apologized immediately. Did stop off to see the car wreck right after the last swinging bridge. must have been there for some time since the car has now been embedded in the tree it ended up hitting (due to growth...not the impact). wonder why they just left it there? just about 8 miles of hiking for the day.
back at the cabin all clean and resting while writing this...still breezy but sunny out. time for lunch!
lunch, then a nice long nap then relaxed until supper. then relaxed some more. did go out to see if it cleared up. it did and the stars were out, but could only identify Cassiopeia and Venus for sure. Glad I too my jacket...it was cool out with a bit of a breeze. No armadillos tonight....to cool for them perhaps.
went out again....moon coming up but obscured by trees so the stars were not totally washed out. did see three armadillo and also three dear (I think a mom and two fawns, tried to get photos but all I got were eyes).
pretty much packed up and ready to load up the car in the morning. still haven't turned on the TV once since getting here or played a game on my devices. Read, listened to music, walked, hiked, and ate, but no TV, or games and I stayed away from email until a few minutes ago (but since today was a work day officially I thought I had better answer emails). tomorrow off to Atlanta for the Fall ASEE SE meeting.
this stay has further convinced me to get a summer cabin in the mountains. this cabin was the perfect size 2 bed one bath nice eat in kitchen, living room and a deck looking out at tree tops. It didn't bother me having other cabins close since all but the kitchen windows and skylights looked back at the woods. I did like the feel and layout of the place...and the high ceilings in the living room did give me a sense of space missing in my Memphis home.
wish the fireplace worked (and I would want one in my cabin for cooler nights).
Videos taken during hikes