Friday, December 3, 2010

Indian Rock - Big Ridge State Park 11/21/2010

There's nothing more peaceful or serene to us as a walk in the woods. After a long hike, food tastes better, hot baths or showers are more relaxing and soothing. It's after a long walk in the woods, that one feels a certain calm happiness.

That desire hits us quite frequently but seldom are we able to indulge this time of year. Tim had planned, once again, an overly ambitious hike, and Robin's practical thinking prevailed once again. If it hadn't, we would have been hiking out of the woods at Big Ridge State Park in the dark.

Regardless of the minor time technicality, we still had a wonderful time and left the woods fulfilled and tired. The trail we took was one we've done part of, it was the trail to Indian Rock. Of course if time wasn't an issue we would have made it all the way to Sharp's Station and completed the Indian Rock loop.

The total hike distance was approximately 5.8 miles. We started at the Norton Gristmill at the back side of the park. From there, we walked to the Big Valley trail head .2 miles. The trail starts out quite rugged and meanders through Big Valley through what we decided to call the Dead Fall Forest - the sad result of the pine beetle infestation. Big Valley, we decided later on, was called Big Valley for a reason. It seems to be a washout as the trail appears to be a big rut in the ground for run-off to make it's way to creeks and eventually Norris Lake.

After .6 miles we crossed the intersection where Big Valley Trail and Ghost House loop trail meet up. At this point you can go left to the Ghost House loop or continue, as we did, straight on Big Valley Trail. The trail at this point climbs 200+ feet to the top of Pinnacle Ridge and descends back down to Dark Hollow (pronounced 'holler' if your Appalachian - with a 'latch-un,' not a 'lay-shun'). At this point the trail intersects the Dark Hollow trail. To the right you can hike 1.3 along East Dark Hollow to Norris Lake or to the left along West Dark Hollow 1.7 miles to Big Ridge Dam and the Lake Trail. At this point on the Big Valley Trail you've hiked a total of 1.5 miles.

Continuing on the Big Valley trail after .4 miles you come to the start of the Indian Rock Loop trail. Of course don't forget to stop on the way at Langley Cemetery and view the graves of some of the earlier residents of the area - only one of which is marked modernly, Little Miss Zola Mae. At the start of the Indian Rock loop you can go to the left and down Big Ridge (which the park was named after) to Norris Lake, or to the right like we did and walk along the ridge top to Indian Rock.

Up to this point the trail wasn't bad, except the climbs up Pinnacle and Big Ridge. There wasn't much dead fall to traverse and the terrain wasn't bad with the exception of lots of leaves to make it a bit slick going down the ridges. Along the ridge we hiked about a mile before we reached Indian Rock. The trail is blazed but you have to keep a watchful eye out for them. The terrain is a bit rough as well due to rocks in the trail. This time of year, with all the leaves on the ground, it's even more strenuous. This is definitely a trail for the more experienced hiker as one might lose the trail if they aren't careful.

Once we reached Indian Rock we had a sit down and enjoyed a small lunch complete with Peanut Butter and Nutella sandwiches and apples. We stuck around here for a little bit taking in the views, consulting our map and deciding that it would be best to head back out. On the way out we decided it would be better on our joints and knees to take Ghost House because the terrain isn't as rugged as Big Valley is and it was the same distance from that intersection back out to the Gristmill.

Overall it was definitely an enjoyable hike for us all. Kiddo was a videographer for the journey and of course Robin was the photog. Tim would have taken pictures too, but we were already to the trail head before he realized his camera was left in the car and didn't want to waste anymore time fetching it. Instead, he was the guide from the back of the pack complete with his GPS and the map. He also handled our Trusty Sidekick Beene.

Until next time, Happy Trails,
Tim and Robin

By the way, Indian Rock was named for the point where Peter Graves, an earlier settler at Sharp's Station, was ambushed and scalped by indians. We decided to reenact what it might have looked like while we were up there.

Now for the rest of the pictures...

On the Sniff
Enjoying the Fresh Air

Fungus on a Dead Fall Tree
One of the markers at Langley Cemetery

Photog (Wifey)
Mmm Dwarfmar Samich

It'll Ride Two People

Indian Rock