Thursday, December 9, 2010

River Bluff Loop - River Bluff TVA Small Wild Area - 12/5/2010

It's cold and snowy and you're still 30 miles away from your 100 mile goal for the year. What do you do? What else, go hiking. That's just what Robin and I done. Robin has less than 25 miles to go and I just under 28 before the year is out.

For a while we hadn't done much hiking in bitter cold or snowy conditions, however we've been striving to break out of that mold. There's no reason why you can't bundle up like you are going to go play in 6 inches of snow and walk. To be quite honest, it wasn't as bad as one might think. If you remember Robin's Winter Hiking Tips, then you are good to go with hiking in the cold weather. As the boy scouts say, always be prepared. Expect the unexpected and a winter hike will do the soul some good.

After much deliberation and consideration of the weather and other circumstances we decided that we would head down to Norris and hike a trail we hadn't done in a few years, the River Bluff Loop Trail in the River Bluff Small Wild area nestled in between Norris Dam State Park lands. As a matter of fact the last time we did the trail, we were in worse shape than we are now and it wasn't for hiking's sake, rather it was to find a geocache that was hidden there. At that time it was either Spring or Summer. I can't exactly remember. I've slept since then. However I do know that it was green as could be and this time around we saw things on the trail that we didn't see before.

The River Bluff Loop Trail is approximately 3.2 miles and is located on TVA land on the west side of the dam. The trail is an easy to moderate trail with a good foot path. There were only a couple of blow downs along the trail but nothing difficult to overcome. You can start out up hill by going right at the fork, like we did, or stroll along the river first by going straight. Total elevation gain/loss is approximately +/- 210ft. It's definitely enough to get the heart rate up and the blood pumping.

It was a beautiful hike, with the snow blowing off and on and the sun popping in and out. Along the river, the views of the bluffs were very apparent and rather beautiful. The last time we were here I don't think we even noticed them, as we were busy searching for that geocache.

This time around however the sluice gates of the dam were open and you could hear the roar of the water not to mention see the spray from it and watch the river rage down stream. Come to think of it, I don't believe I have been hiking at Norris when any part of the dam was open. Of course after all the rain we had earlier in the week, I suppose they had to return the lake back to it's normal winter levels.

While we hiked, Robin snapped photos (when she wasn't wiping a drippy nose), and I shot video. Robin took one turn behind the video camera though, but is only for a short moment. The unfortunate thing was that the last time I cleared the memory card, I forgot to format it, meaning I lost half of the 2 minute video shots of the first part of the trail. It's too bad that happened. I was thinking a video hike covering sections of the trail would have been nice. We still might be able to put together something. It may be a few days before we can do that. The holiday season keeps us hopping.

All in all, we had a wonderful time out in the cold and snow. We got a little closer to our 100, and we got to commune with nature and each other. And Beene had a blast, too. There wasn't a soul on the trail so she went wireless the whole time, and enjoyed catching snowflakes on her tongue.

Happy Trails,
Tim and Robin

"Oh Hai! Just 16 dayz!" ~ Ms. Coo