Thursday, March 27, 2008


It was February 9, 2008 and winter had beared down upon us for far too long in our opinions, we decided the pretty day would be the perfect opportunity to bring our daughter to see the trees. The trees I speak of are the enormous 200 - 400 year old untouched tulip poplars that stand in the old growth forest known to us around here as the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, thus named after the poet, Joyce Kilmer, known for the work "Trees". Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is located in the Slick Rock Wilderness Area in Robbinsville, North Carolina, just off the Cherohala Skyway, and is part of the Nantahala National Forest.

The trail around the memorial forest is a easy 2 mile figure-eight loop trail that meanders through the forest and along the Little Santeetlah Creek. The four of us (Robin, Kiddo, and our trusty side kick Clover Beene) began the hike. The first half mile or so is very pretty with lots of vegetation and a few wooden steps along the way. You can just start to imagine the size of the trees on up in the forest at this point as you gaze at the one in the first half of the trail.

After the first half mile or so you come to the intersection of the two loops of the figure eight. Here lies a memorial to Joyce Kilmer. As we continued along the trail we really began to see the awesomeness of the tulip poplars in all their glory. At one point along the trail we all decided to see if we could wrap ourselves around one of the trees. We each took sides of the tree and stretched our arms as far as they could and just barely touch each others finger tips.

As the hike continued the trees got bigger and bigger. I believe the yougin' was rather impressed with the beauty that laid upon her eyes. Some trees we posed at pretending to try and climb with all our might. We came to a pair of trees that were close enough together so that we could climb up a couple feet between them with our backs on one and our feet on the other. We did so and took pictures of each other. Even Beene wanted in on this fun.

Before long we were back at the intersection and beginning the last section of the hike, which meanders through a thick growth of Rhododendron and eventually joins back alongside the creek. After a little bit we emerged from the trail pleased with the wondrous views. Once of the trail we made our calls to nature, found some sticks to use as wizard wands, which to this day kiddo stills likes to find sticks to play Harry Potter with.

If you have children, or love the outdoors and nature, we highly recommend this trail as it is relatively easy, and very beautiful indeed. Robin and I have now done the trail twice, but have yet to do it in any other season than the end of winter. We will definitely have to go back in the spring, summer, and fall to see the trees and their natural surroundings in the rest of their splendor.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Indian's and Their Boundries

It was the 13th of January and the winter season was still bearing down upon us. Nevertheless, our cabin fever was nearing critical limits and we were itching to get out of the house. So, after sitting down in front of the trusty computer for a short while to figure out what to do, we had a plan to battle the cabin fever. We decided we would set out to glimpse some wildlife of the avian kind and any other woodland creatures we might find. Our destination was a bird viewing motor loop.

Being as cold as it was, we decided it would be best not to attempt any major hikes, we set out in the car and headed south towards the Cherohala Skyway in the Cherokee National Forest to drive the Tellico Auto Loop for wildlife viewing.

It was a beautiful drive, and we couldn't have asked for better weather. A few points of interest along the loop included The Indian Boundary, and the river area campgrounds along one of the Forest Service roads. The country back here was beautiful indeed, especially off the beaten path along the service road where the woods are thick and the river runs wild.

We did see a handful of wild birds, but other than that we didn't see much else. Below are some of the captures of the day.

Be on the look out for for the upcoming posts: Joyce Kilmer (Any relation to Val?) and O&W Bridge, do they make rootbeer too?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

2007, Where did it go???

Well 2007 is long gone and 2008 is well underway. I've decided that if I'm going to keep this blog up with entries on our various outdoor activities then I should stop trying to catch up on all that we did last year and just start fresh after this post. With that said, I believe I will give a quick look at everything else we did last year.

We ventured out to Frozen Head State Park again for a little fun. We cooked out Hot dogs and played and what not. We also went on two Appalachian Quilt trails. These are real fun as it lets you get into the heart of Tennessee. The cities and the downtown areas are great and all, but if you really want to see the heart of Tennessee I suggest you take a picnic lunch or something and get out of the house for a drive along one of the quilt trails. You will definitely see some beautiful country.

We finally ended the out of doors season with a camping trip to Frozen Head State Park. We camped for a whole week and really enjoyed ourselves immensely. Mom and Dad came out to visit a couple of days while we were out there. We hunted firewood almost daily, walked around the park, played, and rode bikes. On one of our last couple of days, we decided it was time to do a nice hike. We set out for Bird Mountain. This was a beautiful trail that runs along with the Cumberland Trail for a little ways. We stopped and ate lunch at one of the back country campsites. We finally continued our trek until at last we were out and back at the campground. If I remember correctly, the trail was 8 miles and there was an elevation gain of 1600ft in just over two miles.

As for the winter time, our out of doors activities were pretty limited due to the cold. However, we did get out for a few astronomical viewings. We watched the Leonids and Geminids or was it the Orionids. We went and gazed at Comet P17 Holmes a couple of times. We played with our video cam attachment to Robin's telescope a couple of times. We also saw a handful of Iridium Flares as well as watched the Space Station pass overhead one night. If you want to learn more about our astronomical Exploits, we have a separate blog dedicated to just that. You can see it here

As for 2008, well, I reckon I can start fresh with a new blog entry for our first two hikes of the year, Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, and yesterdays O&W Bridge trail in the Big South Fork National Recreational Area.

Keep on the look out for these two posts as I plan to have them up this week.

Happy Easter everyone.

T and R.