Archive for February, 2010
Second trip this weekend ! HAIRNT !! And a much warmer day with less snow to hike through than the day before. Got a slightly earlier start this time even after oversleeping until almost 1 pm, still there was no answer at Bol’Dar’s (hmmm__ I wonder ?,,,) so once again it was just my son Tyler, and me. After recently hearing talk about waterfalls up Simmons Branch in Bumpus Cove, (pretty sure we always referred to it as ‘Bumpass’ cove !) I decided to go there since it was close and in the lower elevations as there is still a lot of snow in the mountains. It has been many years since I have been in the Bumpus Cove area and there have been some noticeable changes but for the most part it is still just as I remember it. I used to spend a lot of time there over the years for various reasons. We drove right to the end of the paved road then continued a short ways further to where the old forest service road (that goes to Rich mountain and beyond) begins. It is gated this time of year. We had no trouble finding Simmons Branch as it is basically the first hollow on the right.
Simmons Branch Falls (lower)
This is an old mining community that at one time had at least 31 mines in operation (maybe more at one time) and was considered to be the largest company in the state of Tennessee back in those days (according to 80 yr old resident Clay Rogers who can remember vividly when they were in operation) mining such minerals as Zinc, Iron, Manganese, and Lead, just to name a few of the popular ones. Although it has been reclaimed, caution should be taken as there are remnants of old mine and air shafts that could be potentially dangerous, so please be very careful if you tread here. There is a visible mine location right at the start of Simmons Branch just after you cross the first creek. More info on all the mines can be found HERE. (make sure to click ‘terrain’)
Posted on 27 February '10 by admin, under RATtreks. 3 Comments.
The Winter That Never Ends
For the last three weeks or more, we have had an abundance of snow on the ground here, and the mountains were getting nightly doses with well below freezing temps which made for some very spectacular photos, however, it has been way too deep and cold for this RAT to leave the hole until now.
Unaka Mountain frozen
Buffalo Mountain frozen
It has been many years since we had a real winter, but this year has broken many records, not only here but all over the country, and seems like it is not going to end anytime soon. However, this past weekend did allow for some much warmer
weather so I was able to get out to the mountains for some much needed exercise and after all, my adventure level was getting a little low! There was still plenty of snow to be found. There was also ample amounts of storm damage to be encountered which makes getting to the destinations difficult, to say the least, and it also somehow takes away a part of the beauty and aesthetics of many of our cherished waterfalls. One in particular, Squibb Creek Falls, has all but disappeared beneath natures recent changes.
Posted on 24 February '10 by admin, under RATtreks. 6 Comments.
Thanks again to some much needed warmer temps, another trip to some magnificent waterfalls was possible. This time due to time constraints (another late start) we went to Red Fork falls which is fairly close by in the Unaka Mountain area and is not that far of a hike to get to. I have not been there in at least 20 years and before that was my first time on New Years of 1966. It was freezing and slick then as I recall my dad falling in the creek while carrying me nearly going over the top of the falls, and this time was no different which made climbing down the falls very treacherous.
Red Fork Falls
After parking at the trail-head on Red Fork Road (also known as Unaka Mountain Road) located 7.8 miles up Limestone Cove Road from Unicoi, it is a mere half mile to the falls (marked with a red dot) but don’t let that fool you because if you do risk climbing down the falls to the lower falls below, you will feel like you have hiked much farther the next day ! It is a matter of holding on to laurels, rocks and stumps as you carefully make your way down and I must advise that many people have been seriously injured here so please use extreme caution especially when it is frozen and slick like it is now.
Posted on 3 February '10 by admin, under RATtreks. 3 Comments.
Another January adventure led us back to the Unaka Mountain Wilderness area, this time up Rock Creek to the many waterfalls that are found there. Another late start on a partly sunny day, not too cold, and no wind blowing when we left Hairnt-quarters, but as soon as we got out of the vehicle you could hear the winds roaring loudly, high overhead. There was no snow on the ground this time due to the recent warmer temps, but we did find some before the day was over. The park is still closed this time of year so we parked at the gate and walked the full length of the park until we reached the Rock Creek Falls trail-head. Apparently this takes you outside the ‘safety zone‘ of the park according to the signs ! I am also glad I did not bring a hang-glider as apparently that is not allowed ! After hiking a short way past some cool fungus and a gnarley tree, we came to the first of four creek crossings. The water levels are still very high right now which is one reason I am going to as many waterfalls as I can but, this makes for some tricky creek crossings, many of which
are done by what we call ‘ninja log walks‘.
Rock Creek Falls (upper)
Posted on 1 February '10 by admin, under RATtreks. No Comments.