Trippin’

Hey yeah … I am alive. Just been super busy with work and two trips that I had to work extra to make happen.

JR and I went backpacking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park over the last weekend of July.  We started out at Clingman’s Done and hiked to the end of the Road to Nowhere outside of Bryson City via Forney Creek on the following trails: Forney Ridge Trail, Forney Creek Trail, Whiteoak Branch Trail, and the Lakeshore Trail. We hiked three days and camped two nights (at #68B and #71). It’s been a while since I have been backpacking and I had to buy a bunch of new gear (backpack, tent, etc.). I also had forgotten how tiring it is evening though I day hike as much as I can. It can be a challenge carrying 30+ lbs. on your back. Day two of the trip we especially challenging at points because we did six non-bridged crossings of Forney Creek. We emerged on Sunday tired but happy for the experience.

Clingman's Dome
The starting point at Clingman’s Dome.

Forney Creek Trail Sign
The trailhead for the Forney Creek Trail is 1.1 miles from Clingman’s Dome. From here we hiked another 2.4 miles of rough, steep, rocky, wet, poison ivy covered trail to Campsite 68B.

Campsite 68B
Relaxing at Campsite 68B.

Sleeping Quarters
Our tent set-up for the first night. We kept the tents close together in case bears attacked in the middle of the night.

Into the Woods
Hiking down the trail on day two …

Forney Creek Water Crossing
This is one of the six Forney Creek crossings. They ranged from ankle deep to crotch deep. Ice cold water is always refreshing when it hits your balls.

Happy Hikers
All smiles despite the heavy packs and tough terrain.

Setup for Night Two at Campsite 71
Our setup for night two at Campsite 71.

Campsite Snake
We had some company in the campsite …. but thankfully it was not the venomous kind of company.

Campfire!
Here’s JR starting up the camp fire.

Light at the End of the Tunnel
Almost done! The trail ends on the other side of the tunnel at the end of the Road to Nowhere.

And, this past weekend, David and I went down to Florida to visit Dr. Phibes and Co. The dive down and back were not too much fun, but it’s always great to see such good friends. We walked on the beach at sunrise, went bowling, kicked around Centre Street, drank too much and (definitely) ate way too much. The Pimento Cheese at Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen is fucking amazing. Yum. One thing I realized after we got back is that I took practically no photos of the trip. Oh well …

Fernandina Beach
Sunrise-ish on Fernandina Beach …

Bowling!
And BOWLING SHOES … because bowling shoes are awesome.

Now, it’s back to a busy work week (blech!) as well as several social commitments and Godspeed You! Black Emperor at The Orange Peel on Friday night (yay!). Plus, my new glasses should arrive either today or tomorrow. I am looking forward to being able to see clearly again.

 

Trippin’

Outdoorsiness

Went out on Saturday with my friend Jack and we traversed the Appalachian Trail from Newfound Gap to Charlie’s Bunion and back. The weather was awesome and the views were super fine. It was quite warm and there were several shirtless guys out enjoying the trail as well. So … BONUS VIEWS! Ha, ha.

And … the late afternoon sun/clouds at Lake Junaluska put on quite a show yesterday.
Lake Junaluska Walk

Outdoorsiness

Ups and Downs

Things are rolling along. Got the ups and got the downs.

Saturday, JR and I got to trek through the woods on the Lakeshore Trail to Forney Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was an absolutely spectacular day. Sunny and 70° temperatures. Maybe Spring really is almost here.

You start at the end of the Road to Nowhere and walk through an abandoned tunnel.
The Road to Nowhere

Past the tunnel, the pavement ends and you properly trek through the woods.
Lakeshore Trail

It’s three miles to where Forney Creek empties into Lake Fontana. They have the lake drawn down, so we were able to get out from under the treeline and enjoy the sun.
Forney Creek & Lake Fontana

A guy was on the other side of Forney Creek looking kind of lost. He forded the creek and it ended up being a guy we had passed earlier. He was out with five boys and they had taken a wrong turn and ended up on the far side of the creek from where they wanted to be. I tried my best to tell him to go back of the trail and get back on the official route.
Helping a Misdirected Hiker

He forded the creek again and he and the boys disappeared. They reappeared in about 15 minutes because some nice boaters decided to just shuttle them across to our side. I guess he decided not to backtrack (the smart thing to do) like I suggested.

After lunch, JR took a nap while I watched frogs jumping around in a marshy area caused by the drawdown of the lake. It really was an awesome day!

I took a selfie on the trail and suspect that I am too beardy. At the very least it needs shaping … and maybe some Just for Men. Damn, damn. I am getting grey.
Beardy

Sunday, I met up with Mary (who used to costume for the theater) and we had lunch and beer at Bearwaters. I hadn’t seen Mary in a long time and we spent four hours catching up. I need to be better about keeping up with people. It would have been nice if we could have sat outside at the brewery but a 70° Saturday gave way to a 45° Sunday. Grrrrrrr.

Then yesterday. My Dad’s dog, Mia, very unexpectedly had to be put down. I got asked to come up and bury her and it was a pretty traumatic experience … more traumatic than I though it would be. So, last night I was really down … thinking about poor Mia in the cold, dark ground. 11 years is too short a time for her to have been around. RIP, Mia.

RIP Mia
Mia and me back in 2010.

Now the work week is well underway and I am just struggling … just working and waiting for Friday afternoon to get here.

[There’s only one link because I am tried and lazy and too later getting this posted.]

Ups and Downs

Material Goods

Thanksgiving was fairly nice with lots of fellowship and waaaaaay too much food.

But, most importantly, material needs were met with Black Friday specials and the Criterion/B&N 50% Off Sale! He who dies with the most movies wins … right?

Black Friday Goodies …
Black Friday Goodies

Criterion/B&N 50% Off Sale Goodies …
Criterion Goodies

In reality … I really do need to stop buying movies. It’s gotten TOTALLY OUT OF CONTROL!

We went over to Gatlinburg on Sunday … and amidst moonshine drinking, old tyme photo-ing, and Mysterious Mansion-ing, I was able to get a fancy new pair of KEEN hiking shoes at the NOC’s Gatlingburg outpost. If I ever quit buying movies then I would just end up spending all my money on super cool hiking gear.
Keen Men's TARGHEE III Waterproof

Material Goods

Back to High Falls [Redux]

Kat, Kat’s New Fella and I went to the water release at High Falls this past Saturday. Kat had been once before. New Fella had never been. I have been four times over the last several years. High Falls is located about a 1/2 mile from the dam on Lake Glenville. Seven times a year (April-August), Duke Energy releases water from the lake to create recreational opportunities for kayaking on the West Fork of the Tuckasegee River. High Falls goes from a somewhat impressive double tier waterfall to a raging monster of a waterfall in about one minutes. It’s a really cool thing to see happen. We were a bit bummed to not see any kayaks on the river. It’s was probably a little too early in the day as the release happens at 10 am. As were were driving back, we passed quite a few cars with kayaks attached and knew exactly where they were headed. I hope everyone had a great time running the river that day.

And now … you can experience High Falls via the magic of YouTube! This video was evidently shot at the last scheduled water release in 2017. You can tell by the date this was filmed and the number of people there watching. The first and last release days of the year always seem to be the most crowded.

Back to High Falls [Redux]

Weekend Snaps

It was a totally “on the go” weekend. While battling a cold, I also had to deal with the show, went of a wee hike (which didn’t help the cold at all) and had a cast party to go to. Fun!

Here’s some pictures ’cause everyone loves pictures.

Preston in the Woods
Preston in the Woods

Wash Hollow Waterfall
Wash Hollow Waterfall

Red and Green Leaves
Red and Green Leaves

Hiking Boots
Hiking Boots

On the hike, I ended up loosing my nice double-wall, insulated camp mug. It got knocked out of my pack and went flying off the side of the mountain. Then PT and I got into a yellow jacket nest and we both ended up getting stung. It was almost as fun as getting zapped by that electric fence earlier in the year. Yup.

The Full Monty Cast & Crew
And here’s the Cast and Crew of “The Full Monty” as shot by Christy on Sunday afternoon.

Weekend Snaps