Thursday, November 8, 2007

What is that Heron Mining???

The day was August 26th and we were itching to get out of the house. The rugrat was sleeping over at her friend's house and we had nothing better to do. It was a beautiful sunny day that shouldn't have been wasted. As always though, we spent a good 30 minutes or more trying to decide what we should do. Robin, finally came up with an idea after a little research online. We decided to take off and make our way to a part of the Big South Fork we had never been too. Well at least I hadn't been there.

After a good hour and a half drive or so we ended up at Blue Heron, an old mining town complete with all buildings restored to just shells. The interesting thing about this mining camp is that all the buildings are just skeletons of buildings with wooden cutouts of people, exhibits encased with plexi-glass containing various items such as books and pictures for the school house, bibles and church programs for the church, etc. Each exhibit had a big red button which upon pressing, you could here a tape recording of people talking about the place when they inhabited the camp some 50 years ago.

One of the funniest things was when we entered one of the building which contained life-size wooden cut-outs of people to which Clover apparently did find very trustworthy. To see her hairs stand up on the back of her neck and listen to her bark and carry on was quite funny. For at least a good five minutes she kept it up, barking and growling of the life-sized, lifeless, wooden people.

The camp still had what looked to be the original tipple which was pretty neat to see. By the end of the day we must have walked at least a mile or so around the whole place. Upon our departure we past the train bring tourists in from town. Our mission was accomplished and our day was wonderful.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Is that a hole for gentlemen to swim in?

The day was July 21, 2007. If I remember correctly, it was a Saturday, of course I could just open my calendar and make certain that was the day and realize that it was a Sunday. And yes I just looked and confirmed that it was indeed a Saturday. HAHAHA. Anyway, we were itching to get out of the house, and I especially was wanting to go on a good hike. So, I got to looking around on the net and in our various trail books and came across a nice loop trail that combines the Gentlemen's Swimming Hole Trail and Meeting Bend Trail in the little town of Rugby just at the Southern edge of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.

Rugby, is a small quaint town that was started in 1880 as a colony for Victorian English in the Cumberlands. On most days, you can go there and walk about the community and check out the buildings. Some of the buildings are not the originals as fires claimed a few of them, others are the originals.

Well enough about the town, now on to the hike. The hike starts out in a parking lot across from one of Rugby's cemeteries. When you get to the trail head, you have a choice to go clockwise to the swimmin' hole first or counter clockwise to the meeting place at the confluence. We decided to go to the confluence first as there were a few people coming from and going to the hole.

The hike to the confluence is straight down, well not really straight down but down enough to make you know that at some point you are going to have to come back up. So the hike down to the confluence was quite nice. There were several spots where there were ruts in the trail (this was an apparent jeep road). In the ruts, water had gathered and made the spots look like miniature swamps or something of the like. In these mini-swamp spots, we found all sorts of neat things; tadpoles, dragon flies, etc. The trek down to the confluence was about 1.2 miles.

Once off the jeep road the trail starts to follow a creek and slopes down to where the waters of White Oak Creek and The Clear Fork river meet. After walking down the slope we come upon the neatest spot where the two tributaries meet. Here we decide to put on our sandals and play around for a bit. The water and the rock bluffs on the other side of the river made for a remarkable backdrop to the day. I believe the kids had a good time playing around there and Robin took some real pretty pictures of the area.

Once we were done there we donned our packs and went about our merry way to the swimming hole. The path to the swimming hole follows alongside some amazing rock bluffs. This is one of the reasons I love Big South Fork. You really don't get this type of scenery in the Smoky Mountains. Granted the Smokies are great in their own right, they just don't compare to the Fork.

So from the confluence to the swimming hole was another 1.5 miles or so. When we got there we were hot and there wasn't a soul in sight. We decided it would be nice to take a dip. Of course we really didn't have anything with us for a swim (i.e. towels, bathing suit, etc.). So what do country folk do when confronted with this? They throw caution to the wind and strip down to their skivvies and take themselves a dip. It sure did feel good to get in the cool water. I can see why many a native of the area utilize the hole during the hottest parts of the summer days. We all had ourselves a blast swimming around and whatnot. We were even amazed at the fact Clover was swimming. We've had her at the lake before and she would chase sticks into the water, but she would never really dare venture out far enough to go swim. We've also had her at the pool and she would panic when we would get her in and flail around like a fish out of water. So it was quite surprising that when we got in for a dip she did too. Oh she had an absolute blast swimming in the river and running around like a hyperactive kid with a sugar rush.

It must have been divine intervention or something of the sorts however, we had finally decided we had enough fun and were getting out and getting our clothes back on. It's a good thing we did when we did because it wasn't a minute later that a group of kids came down to swim and fish. I guess it's a good thing we weren't skinny dipping otherwise they might have caught more than an eyeful. So we were finished getting dressed and adorned ourselves with our packs and head back out to the trail for another .7 miles back out to the cemetery. Of course the hike from the swimmin' hole to the cemetery was up. Remember we were going to have to go up to get out. It wasn't that bad as there were stairs here and there on the way out. The rest of the trail followed the rock bluff until we were on top of it again at the trail head.

Total distance on the hike was approximately 3.2 miles. That does not count the side trail down to and back from the swimmin' hole. It was indeed a great day and a great hike. I can definitely see this trail as being one we revisit during the summer months each year.

Be on the lookout for the next entry "What on earth is that Heron mining?"
Happy Trails,
Tim and Robin

Friday, October 5, 2007

It's a Cove... No..It's a Lake... No It's Cove Lake

Well well well, here we are again, still trying to play catch up. We promise we will get caught up so you can hear about our wonderful camping trip. Until then, this little ditty is all about a little trip to Cove Lake State Park.

Cove Lake is a nice little park located just north of us about 30 minutes up I-75. We like to come here from time to time when we want a quick out of doors experience. We bring our bikes from time to time as they have a nice paved trail to ride bikes on. Sometimes, as with this day, we like to take the kids and walk the trail. One day we will eventually hike the section of the Cumberland trail that is just on the back side of this park. There is also a little trail that branches off the paved trail and leads to the Beaver workshop. This area is pretty neat as there is plenty of evidence of beaver work. If you are ever up this way, you will definitely want to visit. They also have a swimming pool, a restaurant, and much more.

So the day was July 15, 2007 and we were dog sitting Clover's friend Zorro once again and decided we would get the both of them another entry in their pawports by visiting Cove Lake. To be quite honest, there was nothing of real interest that happened this day other than walking the kids around the back part of the path. We were starting to train Zorro how to not pull us everywhere when we brought him with us. He was definitely starting to figure that out before we were done.

Anyway, as I said before there wasn't much else to mention about this day so I will leave you with a few glimpses of our travels here.

Next Up: Is that a hole for gentlemen to swim in?
(A very wonderful hike by the way.)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Unchained Melody? No, Chained Rock

Welcome to another edition of Tim and Robin takes the kids for a walk.... Wait a minute, I guess this is really just the first edition. On this adventure we had a companion along with Clover Beene, our Trusty Sidekick, and let me tell you, she's a real kick in the side. Anyway, it was the five of us, Robin, Ashby, Clover, Zorro, and me, in the car on our way to Pine Mountain State Park to see what all the fuss was aboot with the famed Chained Rock. The story goes that in 1933 the big rock was chained to the cliff that faced it. This was something that the town felt necessary to ensure the bolder didn't fall from it's perch and crush the city below. Apparently the local Kiwanis club with the help of the CCC and I believe some Boy Scouts, they lugged the chain links ,via pack mule, up the mountain and linked them between the cliff and the rock.

The park is pretty nice with approximately 15 miles worth of hiking trails, including the 1 mile hike to the Chained Rock and back. We even saw signs suggesting black bears are in the area. The day we went was fairly hot and we really didn't know what we were getting into, especially with a Shitzu that has never hiked a trail in his short 6-7 months of existence. The hike down to the rock, yes that's right down, was nice and only a half mile. Of course with it being down to the rock you know that means the hike out is all up. We didn't count, but I'd say there are at least 150 - 200 stairs on the trail. Luckily there are plenty of rest stops along the way. At least 3 benches to sit on along the way.

With the thoughts of black bears in our heads we were about a quarter the way down the trail when we heard a big rustling amongst the brush and leaves ahead and to the side of the trail. We proceeded cautiously with our eyes peeled. Of course if we had paid attention to Clover and Zorro, we would have know it was nothing to worry about. As we got closer though the rustling grew louder and louder. When we finally got close enough to the source, our eyes beheld a ferocious gray squirrel frolicking around. Of course, once Clover seen it she was ready to put on the chase. Luckily her leash is pretty strong and so am I. Zorro on the other hand wasn't as worried, as he had more interest in sniffing every previously marked spot along the trail and reclaiming it for himself.

We finally made it to the rock and what a wonderful place for the human kids to play. Yes, that means Ashby and myself. Of course with both doggie kids and Robin who is not much on heights, we really couldn't play a whole lot. Nevertheless, we did have fun and we did play just a bit, as well as enjoyed the view.

Once we were done exploring and capturing the scenery on fluzz (the camera) we started the trek back up the mountain to the trail head. Zorro had to take a couple of breathers being short legged and not very experienced on trails. Otherwise he did really good. Clover also did exceptionally well with the slow pace and stairs. Clover isn't very big on stairs but she does love to push the pace. Robin, Ashby and I were quite winded once we got back to the top and were ready to head out.

Overall the hike was wonderful even if it was hot. We will definitely be going back to explore the other trails they have to offer, although we will definitely wait for a bit cooler climes. Enjoy the shots below, I know it will make you want to see it for yourself.

Up next.... It's a Cove... No..It's a Lake... No It's Cove Lake.

P.S. It was after this journey that both pooches decided they wanted to have Pawports to track where they have been adventurin' to.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Rocks, Gnomes, and Ruby Falls down?

July 4th, the birthday of the USA. What a day for all Americans to feel proud and to remember those who fought and gave up so much so we could celebrate this wonderful day in a way that most take for granted and others only dream of. It was this day that we decided to take a trip to see Rock City and Ruby Falls.

Robin and I have both been to Rock City before. Only Robin has been to Ruby Falls before whereas I have not. Ashby, on the other hand, has only seen the signs painted on the sides and roofs of old run down barns littered about highways and bi-ways around our area. Let me not forget all the bird houses that litter yards far and wide as well (Yes we did buy a "See Rock City" bird house while seeing Rock City). It is in our back yard. Robin's mom has one in her front yard.

I have to say, Rock City was not as big as I remembered. It still had the allure of a big tourist attraction where you could gain the most wonderful views from atop Lookout Mountain. Yes, you can even see 7 states as they claim (that's provided the weather is clear and you know what you are looking at). The vegetation (shrubs, flowers, trees, etc) was quite nice about the park as well (can you call it a park?).

Next up on our trip for our independence celebratory day was to see Ruby Fall....I mean Ruby Falls. All I have to say about this is if you are allergic to dust please do not go spelunking, especially in a big group, unless of course you stay up front the whole time. I kid you not, some guy behind me must have coughed the whole time through the cave. I think I ended up with more phlegm on the back of my neck than I did drops of moisture on my head from the cave. One other pointer, when you decide to go mucking around in small tight spaces with a large group of people make sure you shower or at least put on some deodorant. There is nothing worse than smelling someone's funk throughout a cave without any fresh air.

Well now that's out of my system, about the cave itself. The cave was nice, there really isn't much to it. They take you down in an elevator and you walk all the way back to the falls. For the most part it is a straight shot without hardly any other paths. The falls are rather pretty especially with all the lights they shine on it. It couldn't be more majestic, even if they did away with the cheesy background music.

So if you find yourself in Chattanooga for a day with nothing to do, give it a look-see. It's the least you can do if you've never seen it before and have time to kill.

Collectively, we give them 3 stars. They lost 2 because of the crowds and ticket pricing.

Stay tuned for Unchained Melody? No, Chained Rock.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

My Head is not Frozen but that Pider is.

The weekend before the 4th of July we decided we wanted to get out after church and do something, as it had been a while since we did anything out of doors that didn't require a bunch work and sweat, or thousands of other people around. In so doing, we decided to take a trip to Frozen Head State Park. We happen to love this park and have camped here at least twice. We have also brought the youngins, our daughter Ashby and our dog Clover, up here several times to play and we have hiked a few of the trails. Robin grew up in this park so to speak, considering her cousin was head ranger and her parents were avid outdoors enthusiasts for lack of a better term.

We made the ultimate decision to ask mom and dad if they wanted to accompany us on this journey. They hadn't been to Frozen Head in quite some time and we knew they would enjoy the trip, even if dad was cramped in the back seat of the jeep like a sardine.

We had a pretty good time. Ashby played in the creek, dad gave geological knowledge to us who would listen, and Clover dragged me where I would let her. Mom and dad both ended up swinging a bit, not at the same time though. Robin played around in the creek just a bit, but not much, she was more busy taking photos, conversing, and teaching as well as learning. We really didn't need a towel or anything like that as the creek wasn't much of a creek, thanks to the drought we are experiencing here in East TN.

After our fun in the creek we decided to head to the campground area to climb on the big boulder in front of the bath house. As a child, Robin thought it was the biggest rock she had ever seen and/or climbed. She recalls it was much harder to climb back then. Ashby loves to climb the rock and as picked up well were Robin left off...

Even mom and dad had to climb one of the boulders there in the campground. We will have to wait for PeePaw to send those pictures.

After our fun at the park it was time to make the trek back home, but not before stopping for a spot of dessert from Sonic. Yum...


Up next, Rocks, Gnomes, and Ruby Falls down?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Introductions First

Hello one and all,

Welcome to our fun little spot on the web. For those of you who are in love with the outdoors like we are, you should find this blog useful, informative, and least of all entertaining. We love the outdoors, if it can be hiked, camped on, walked on, well you get the picture, we are there. You will notice that most of our exploits take place primarily in East Tennessee. That is mainly because we live here and there is so much to do. There is a multitude of state parks and recreation areas, and of course trails to hike and bike. We hope you enjoy reading our blog and if you have any questions about any of the sites we visit feel free to leave comments and we will try our best to respond.


P.S. - All images are Copyright 2007 Robin E. Bird -- Please obtain permission before using any images on this site.