Adventure Time [Caldwell Fork Edition]

So, yeah! A few weekends ago (July 11-12 to be exact), JR and I took off and hiked into the Cataloochee Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On the first day, we hiked up the road to Purchase Knob and then took the Cataloochee Divide Trail past The Swag to Double Gap. From there we went down the Hemphill Bald Trail to Caldwell Fork and Campsite 41. The next day we hiked down the Caldwell Fork Trail and back to JR’s truck. I am estimating that we did about 7 miles the first day and about 5 miles the second day.

This was a really awesome trip! We had perfect weather/temps and Campsite 41 was amazing. I really want to go camp there again. I have apparently become quite the master as getting damp wood to make a cheery campfire. Go figure. The only downside was the numerous water crossings on Caldwell Fork the second day. Thankfully, only one was challenging as there was a bit of guesswork to figure out where the trail was on the other side. All the others were pretty calm as far as rushing water and slick rocks are concerned … though I don’t think I would do this section of trail after a lot of rain since most of the crossing were already at least knee deep (and that was in good weather conditions). We didn’t see any wildlife in person but saw a lot of tracks in the trail. Oh well.

Here’s random assortment of pictures from the trip. Enjoy!

And now … the obligatory collection of trail signs. Double enjoy!

 

Adventure Time [Caldwell Fork Edition]

Adventure Time [Deep Creek Edition]

JR and I tackled the Deep Creek Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this past weekend. We camped one night and did 14.3 miles of hiking over two days.

All packed up and ready to hit the trail!
Packed and Ready

The view from the trailhead on 441 …
Trailhead View

And … we’re off! Even just doing an overnight, my pack was damn heavy.
Trailhead Portrait

The upper end of the Deep Creek trail is pretty remote and we had lots of solitude. We encountered a ton of blowdowns and deadfalls that we had to climb over, under, and around.
Blow Downs!

At one point, Deep Creek was spilling over its banks and actually took over the tail. It was nothing but rushing water.

The trail guide lied to us about a few creek crossings that could be rock-hopped. The water was too deep and we had to take off our boots and wade. I was a bit annoyed by this and attempted crossing a tributary with my boots on. Needless to say, I fell and ended up with a couple of trail trophies and totally soaked boots. Hiking in wet boots and socks is not fun.
Trail Trophy

Further down the trail, we encountered an area where deadfalls and the creek had obliterated the trail completely. Can you find your way through?
Missing Trail

We ended up wading through a pool of water on the left (just out of frame in the above photo) and along the left side of the creek until we climbed over the root ball of a blowdown.

Here’s JR making it across …

Once we got past this, it was smooth hiking down to Campsite 59. We even found a footbridge … though this crossing was shallow enough to walk through. Go figure.

We also ran into a trail friend sunning himself. Actually, I almost stepped on him. Ha, ha. But no worries because it’s a harmless brown snake.

After nine miles, We got into camp early enough to have the pick of the best spot, get set up, and even take an afternoon nap. Heavenly! I always set my tent up close to JR’s so he can rescue me if there are any bear attacks in the middle of the night.Campsite 59

We had a relaxing, uneventful night and were up on the trail early the next morning. Five miles later we arrived at the lower trailhead outside of Bryson City.

All-in-all, it was a great trip!
Done and Done

And for no real reason, here’s a collection of trail signs along the Deep Creek Trail.

 

Adventure Time [Deep Creek Edition]

Wrap Up [Thanksgiving ’19 Edition]

What’s the best way to not overeat and get too drunk at Thanksgiving? Why, plan a hike for 8:00 am the next morning! Jack, Josh and I romped over Waterrrock Knob then over Browing Knob then over the summit of Mt Lyn Lowry and out to the memorial cross on the ridge.

Browning Knob View
The view of Yellow Face and Blackrock Mountain from Browning Knob.

Mt. Lyn Lowry Hike
Looking towards Maggie Valley from the cross. Plott Balsam is the peak on the right.

Mt. Lyn Lowry Hike
Looking down into Waynesville from the cross.

Mt. Lyn Lowry Hike
The cross on Mt. Lyn Lowry.

And here’s some other things that have recently happened …

Egg Nog!
I made this year’s batch of egg nog. It’s damn tasty, if I do say so myself.

Biltmore Wine Tasting
We went to taste wine at Biltmore with Alvin. We also got to have a glass of wine in the special Wine Club members only area of the Winery. Talk about feeling classy.

Knives Out
We went and saw Knives Out. I really dug it. As a friend said … “Let’s see, murder mystery, twisted humor, Chris Evans… yep, that checks out as a Chuck flick.” Ha, ha.

And I might have (yet again) gone crazy buying movies in all the Black Friday insanity. There will be a photo posted once all the online orders arrive. Someone needs to take my bank account away!

That stupid cat meme that’s been going around totally applies …
The Truth About Movies

Wrap Up [Thanksgiving ’19 Edition]

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 up the side trail they took 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 draw down 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