Sunday, November 19, 2017

Rockcastle campground

Rockcastle Recreation Area (Daniel Boone NF)
11/17 - 11/18/17
2017 bag nights: 29

I was given permission to escape into the woods for a couple nights, but unfortunately I got stuck in a meeting on Friday afternoon and a big storm was coming though the state on Saturday and I had to be home on Sunday. On top of that the storm on Saturday was forecast to bring 20 mph winds, so no paddling. In other words, my outdoor potential was limited. I decided to leave straight from work and head to the Rockcastle campground where I took the kids last fall.

On the way out of town, I got gas and a bundle of firewood and headed south. Unfortunately, I was driving when the sun set, but I was hoping to have a clear night for some astrophotography. I got to the campsite just as it was getting dark, got set up and realized that the clouds were not going to cooperate. So, I started a fire and cooked dinner and just relaxed.

Woke up the next morning, started a fire and enjoyed my coffee before going on a short hike to check out the Scuttle Hole trails in the area.

Up the Dutch Branch trail to a cool cliff face ...

...and then up about 100 steps up through the Scuttle Hole ...

...and then a short walk along the ridge to some great views of the intersection of the Rockcastle and Cumberland Rivers (now submerged by Lake Cumberland).

I was back to my car about 11:30 and home a little after 1:00. A very short overnight trip without the photography I was hoping for, but still a nice change of pace.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Auxier Ridge with kids

Auxier Ridge in Red River Gorge

Mom was out of town and my kids drive me nuts at home, so thankfully the weather was nice. We loaded up and headed to the Gorge. I wanted a reasonably easy hike and some views, so we went to the end of Tunnel Ridge Road for a hike out towards Courthouse Rock. I knew it was going to be busy but I wasn't looking for solitude since I had three kids with me.

It was about 50 degrees so we all started out with jackets and hats.

I did not take too many photos because I was occupied with herding cats, I mean keeping my kids from killing each other. But, I made them sit down at one point so I could take a couple photos of Raven Rock and the fall leaves.

Nobody fell off a cliff, we mostly had a good time and I finally made it to the Gorge to see the fall colors. A good way to spend the day with my kids.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Raven Run photo day

I took a "personal day" and went to Raven Run with my camera. I told myself to pretend that I only had black and white film in my camera to force myself to look for patterns and "small" views. I ended up finding a couple spots that made me glad to not be limited to B&W. A good way to spend a couple of hours on a nice fall day.

I found a pool of water with great reflections of fall colors, doesn't look as nice in B&W

Looking up instead of down

Another part of the creek had some neat ripples and sunlight. If I was sticking with the spirit of the exercise, I would just have the B&W, but I like the color ones as well.

And some B&W ones

This moth demanded color

Monday, October 16, 2017

Mt Rogers

Grayson Highlands VA
10/6 - 10/8/17 (2 nights)
2017 bag nights: 28
Miles hiked: ~25

I parked at the Grindstone Campground and hiked a couple miles to the Appalachian Trail and then headed north on the AT towards Mt Rogers. Based on some readings and helpful people on, I was pretty sure I could find a campsite along the AT below Mt Rogers. The only real question would be the number of people in the area and would I be able to be near a good view. After a couple hours hiking, I came across the perfect spot overlooking Brier Ridge about a mile from the Thomas Knob shelter on the AT. I headed in that direction to get water for the night, but found a solid trickle about 10 minutes down the trail. I filled up for the night and morning and headed back to set up camp and catch the sunset.

I walked onto Brier Ridge and there was a small herd of ponies. I took a couple photos and enjoyed the view and then headed back to cook dinner and wait for the sunset and hopefully stars.

My campsite was close enough to the open ridge that I carried stove, food, water and bourbon and camera/tripod back to the ridge. I cooked dinner and enjoyed the amazing sunset.



And then a little bourbon while I waited for the stars to come out and hoped that the clouds would not be too bad.
Looking almost due south at Sagittarius and Scorpius and some sky glow from the sun.

As the full moon rose behind the trees it was obvious that the clouds were going to catch a lot of the moon light and it was not going to be a good night for astrophotography. So, off to the hammock to read for a bit.

I woke up to clouds all around, no view at all.

I had a leasurily breakfast and a second cup of coffee hoping it would burn off as the sun rose, but by 9 o'clock it was still foggy/cloudy and time to get moving.

I took the AT north towards Thomas Knob and then along Wilburn Ridge. Supposedly there are great views along the ridge, but the top of the ridge was covered in clouds. The ridge was also covered in dayhikers coming from Massie Gap in the state park. I found this part of the day to be really frustrating, there were no views and no solitude.

As I got closer to the border of the state park the clouds began to break a little and I was still on an open ridge so there were views. The leaves were starting to turn and at times were very striking.

I had lunch on a rock outcrop just off the AT ...

...and then continued into the forest towards the Wise shelter. It was very nice hiking with no one around, but nothing special. I filtered water near the shelter and looked at the map a little more. I was heading towards the Scales area and could take the direct route on the Scales Trail or continue on the AT. Since I was going slower than I had expected, I decided to take the Scales Trail. It was nice, but from what I later read, I probably would have liked the AT better.

After Scales, I took the Crest Trail back towards Rhododendron Gap. The views were very good in parts.

I took the Crest Trail past Wilburn Ridge until in intersected with the VA Highlands Trail which I followed back to Brier Ridge and camp. When I got to the ridge it looked like I was in for another great sunset. I talked to a couple young women from App State in Boone and then went to get water for the night. When I got back after about 1/2 hour the clouds had settled on top of the ridge and there were no views to be seen.

I cooked dinner and sipped some bourbon while I watched the mist swirl around for a bit. This girl was not afraid at all, I assume there is no hunting in the area.

Woke up in the morning to more fog/clouds, no point in lingering. I had a quick breakfast and then took the VA Highlands Trail towards Deep Gap and the AT. After a couple hours of hiking I was back at my car.

I was hoping for more views and more stars, but overall it was a good trip. Next time I think I will avoid the AT near the state park just to avoid some of the dayhikers.