Monday, June 30, 2014

McCormick's Creek State Park

We had a wonderful night camped here at McCormick's Creek State Park last night. This morning we packed up camp and set out to explore the park a bit. Our first stop was the trailhead for Trail 5. The hike started in nice green woods
on trail
and headed into a karst area complete with sinkhole depressions. We made our way along the loop and soon found ourselves at the entrance for Wolf Cave.
Wolf Cave entrance
We were unprepared for a trip into the cave (actually I assumed it would be closed due to White Nose Syndrome) and so we admired it from the entrance. We then continued along the trail headed for the Twin Bridges.

The Twin Bridges were impressive.
1st bridge
They were a pair of limestone natural bridges that I assume were once part of a cave system that has since collapsed.
Noelle under natural bridge
twin bridges
We spent some time investigating the area before getting back on the main trail. The trail crossed a creek several times and we were even treated to the sight of a salamander right on the trail!
salamander
Soon after seeing the salamander we were back at the trailhead and ready for our next exploration.

We next headed over to the lodge for a hike to the waterfall on McCormick's Creek. It was a short walk to the small waterfall.
waterfall 1
The map showed a trail leading in a short loop from the waterfall, but the trail turned out to be a bit more rugged than we had anticipated. It led through some thick poison ivy into the creek bed.
crossing creek
Instead of getting wet feet and risking getting a poison ivy rash, we decided to head back to the parking lot for the next leg of our drive. This turned out to be good fortune as shortly after we hit the road it started to rain very hard.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Our Old Kentucky Home

Our Summer 2014 Road Trip is now officially underway! We passed through the Cumberland Gap yesterday morning and into Kentucky for the first time since we left in 2009. Then it was up Interstate 75 to Lexington where we met a friend at our former place of employment: McConnell Springs. We checked out some of the changes that have been made since we left. We walked through a light rain to a cabin that was in the process of being built.
Cabin
Then it was over to the new pond.
Pond Boardwalk

The pond was nice and there were lots of frogs to look for.
Flowers and Pond
Frog
After investigating the pond  we walked the paved trail past "the Blue Hole" and "the Boils". We even saw a butterfly fluttering around.
Butterfly
Then we got back in the car for a scenic drive through horse country on our way to Midway
Midway, Kentucky
McKee Monument
where we spent the night with friends. Sierra especially enjoyed making new friends.
Friends
This afternoon we had lunch at Grey Goose Pizza before we hit the road headed north into Indiana.        

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Baskins Creek Trail and Grapeyard Ridge Trail to Campsite 32

I went for a solo hike today in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was my first solo hike in quite some time as I've been spending a lot of time hiking with my girls. While I missed their company, it was good to go a little farther and hike a little faster. I started my hike off of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail at the Baksins Creek Trailhead.
Baskins Creek Trailhead

The trail did not start off as I had anticipated it would. I figured it would descend to Baskins Creek immediately, but instead it ascended to a dry ridge before making the descent. There was a lot of rhododendron in bloom along the trail.
rhododendron flower
I also lots of mushrooms
mushroom
and other assorted fungi.
fungus
When the trail finally descended, it followed Baskins Creek rather closely.
creekside trail
I took a side trail
Cemetery sign
to the Baskins Creek Cemetery
Baskins Creek Cemetery
and then continued along the creek to another side trail that led to Baskins Falls.
Baskins Falls
The falls were not particularly high, but they still made for a nice place to rest and enjoy a snack.

After admiring the falls I headed back to the main trail, an old road.
nice trail
It led to another cemetery
Cemetery 2
and shortly thereafter to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. I crossed Roaring Fork
Roaring Fork
on a bridge and investigated a few old buildings including a cabin,
cabin
barn, and corn crib.
outbuilding
In the corner of the field that surrounds the buildings is the western trailhead for the Grapeyard Ridge Trail. This is where I would continue my day's hike.

I have to admit that I did not find Grapeyard Ridge to be the most exciting trail I've ever hiked. I saw some animal life in the form of a doe deer
deer
and butterfly.
butterfly
I also saw some pretty red flowers in bloom
red flower
near one of the streams I crossed.
stream
Mostly, it was just a walk to enjoy the woods and get a section of trail done that I had not walked before. I had walked the eastern edge of the trail to Campsite 32 back in March, but needed this 4.4 mile section to complete the entire length.

I stopped at the campsite,
turnaround
ate a good snack and then headed back on the trail I had just walked. The hiking went fast. I passed through a section of trail surrounded by the trail's namesake grape vines
namesake grapevines
and soon found myself back at the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. I walked the road back to my car and found it to be impressively steep. I got a nice view of the surrounding mountains at one of the overlooks
view
and was soon back at the car.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Greeneville Astros vs. Elizabethton Twins at Pioneer Park

We finally made it out to a Greeneville Astros game! Tonight was our first Astros game and Sierra's first baseball game ever. I think she enjoyed it. We arrived at the park and bought our tickets.
Astros tix
We entered the stadium, received our free umbrellas (luckily we did not need them tonight), and then walked around the stadium a bit.
Sierra and Mommy pregame
After getting our bearings, we got hotdogs at the concessions stand. Sierra enjoyed hers with some ketchup.
Momy helping with hot dog
eating hot dog

After easting our dinner, we made our way to our seats in the General Admission section.
view from seats
Really there's not a bad seat in the house.
Pioneer Park
Noelle and I enjoyed the game which ended with a spectacular diving catch, and Sierra enjoyed the mascot Gizmo. She was great throughout the whole game but I am glad we brought her some of her trains to play with. We rally enjoyed our evening
family fun
 and will be back at some point to see another Astros game!  
Sierra at ball game

Erwin Linear Trail: TN Highway 107 to Northern Terminus

Sierra and I gave Noelle some time alone to work on her thesis by heading over to Erwin to walk another section of the Linear Trail. When we arrived in town it started to rain and so we killed some time by eating lunch at Subway. By the time we were finished eating the rain had moved away and we were ready to do some walking.

The walk started out by heading under the Highway 107 underpass near McDonalds. We then headed to a section of trail that led past a few ponds filled with Canada geese.
Sierra and Daddy

goose grazing
Besides the geese we saw some ducks and a great blue heron as well.
heron in water
After the ponds we headed to a not-so-scenic section of trail that very closely paralleled Interstate 26.
path along Interstate
Sierra and leaf
We did manage to see a few trains which Sierra greatly appreciated.
train engine
Sierra watching train
She is very much into trains all of a sudden. The trail ended at a small family cemetery called the Booth Cemetery.
Booth cemetery
We quickly checked it out and then headed back to the car.

On the way back we took a detour on a side trail through the middle of two ponds
cattails and pond
on a dirt trail.
side trail
We turned around and were greeted by more geese when we returned to the main trail.
geese on trail
Shortly after hitting the main trail we found ourselves back at the car for the drive home to Greeneville.