Friday, January 12, 2018

Berea Pinnacles

January 11, 2017

Day hike at the Berea Pinnacles
Berea KY

We had a warm front blow through and bring daytime highs into the 60s for a couple of days (very different from the week before) and I decided to take advantage of the day. The Berea Pinnacles have been on my todo list for a while and this looked like a good day to check it out. The forecast called for the rain to be done around 9am. While I was driving, a bit of rain came and went. I got to the trailhead and got out of the car to take off my fleece and it started to rain again, so I waited 5 minutes with the remainder of my coffee and the rain disappeared for the day. Perfect.

Map from the Berea website.

I first hiked up to the East Pinnacle and very much enjoyed the view. I'll bet it gets crowded on a nice weekend day, but today I had it all to myself. The sky was very interesting looking, occasionally the sun would come through the clouds enough to cast a shadow, but mostly very overcast, but neat clouds.

A pano stitched from 5 photos. I wanted to emphasize the clouds for this one.

Another pano with the valley and the clouds.

Along the trail was a huge rock with very obvious sedimentary layers, crazy to think all of Kentucky was under a sea 500 million years ago.

One last shot from the East Pinnacle.

I then headed towards the Eagle Nest. That ended up being a great place for lunch, not a bad view either.

After lunch, I looked at the map and decided to check out the end of the trail and headed out towards Robe and Basin Mountains. This was a good trail with a bit of steep ups and downs, but the best part was getting to the top of Basin Mountain.

You can see the yellow blaze on the right hand tree, the trail goes up through the crack in the rock.

A little easier to see the passage here.

After that I checked out the Rock House/Devil's Kitchen. The first photo is in the Rock House, the second is from the ridge looking down.

I ended up spending about 4 hours hiking and thoroughly enjoyed the area, but I am not sure I will be back soon. The views are great, but the Gorge is better and I suspect that this area is very crowded on nice days and since it is so much smaller than the Gorge it would likely feel crowded. With that said, if I lived in Berea or Richmond, I'd likely be here quite a bit. I'm very glad I checked it out. 

Friday, January 5, 2018


A couple dayhikes at Raven Run in Lexington and the Red River Gorge
January 2 & 3 2018

The temperature has not been above freezing in more than a week which means it is time to find frozen waterfalls.

I visited Raven Run on a very sunny afternoon, no clouds and lots of ice and snow. It was pretty obvious that it was going to be a mostly black and white day for photos. 


I tried photographing some of the more interesting ice crystal patterns, but this was the only one worth saving.

The next day I dropped my kids off at school and headed for the Gorge to check out a popular summer waterfall.

This rock face always fascinates me, I love the geometric patterns in the rock.

 When I got back to my car for lunch, I had about 2 hours until I had to leave to pick up my kids, so I decided to check out Creation Falls and Rock Bridge.

Both days were awesome winter weather, sunny and dry with highs right about 20 degrees. As long as I kept moving, I was very comfortable. But, when I stopped to photograph, my hands ended up very cold. I think I need a better pair of gloves.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Gregory Bald

Great Smoky Mountains NP
Twentymile Station Trailhead
12/28 - 12/29/17
2017 bag nights: 32

I had a couple nights to recover from the holidays and the weather forecast looked close to perfect (sunny and 30s during the day and partly cloudy and 20s at night) in the higher elevation of the Smokies. I have wanted to check out Gregory Bald for a while and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

I started at Twentymile ranger station and headed up the Twentymile trail to the Wolf Ridge Trail and then the steep climb (about 3000 elevation gain over about 6 miles) to Parson and Gregory Bald. My goal was to set up camp and then catch the sunset on Gregory Bald, since I started hiking a little before 1pm, I did not have a lot of time.

Both the Twentymile and Wolf Ridge Trails parallel creeks which makes for nice walking when there are bridges and cold wet feet when you have to ford the creek.

As I got to about 4000 feet snow began to appear on the ground, not very much, but enough to chill my feet.

I got to Site 13 in between Parson and Gregory Balds and set up camp then headed to Gregory Bald for the sunset.

Looking down on Cades Cove

Even without many clouds it was a beautiful sunset. The stars were going to be out tonight, but so was a 1st quarter moon right in the middle of the sky.

Panorama (5 shots stitched)

Gregory Bald in the morning, sadly I could not feel my feet at this point and had to keep moving to stay warm.

A little bit of snow as the trail drops off of the Bald

My feet were cold enough that I still couldn't feel my toes. As I hiked towards the AT I decided that I would make a decision at the next intersection. If I still couldn't feel my feet after hiking more than a mile then I would drop off the ridge on the Long Hungry Ridge Trail and would think about camping at a lower site. Well I got the the Long Hungry Ridge Trail and still had frozen feet, so down I went.

The trail is an old railroad bed, pretty obvious on this long straight stretch, and makes for easy hiking.

The only problem with the trail is there are a number of fords to deal with lower down. I was able to rock hop across the first couple fords, but then I came to a couple that I had to wade through. My feet had finally warmed up, but now they were soaked. When I got to the next campsite, it was only noon and I did not have a book to read( I have the Kindle app on my phone, but I don't like to read for a long time that way). I decided that I could be at the car around 2 and home before my kids went to bed, so I kept going.

About a half mile from the trailhead is the Twentymile Cascade, not one of the best waterfalls, but nice.

This trip ended up not working the way I planned. The main problem was cold feet. I realized that I did not have bread bags for my feet which meant that once my feet got cold, I had a hard time warming them up. I also should have packed an extra pair of hiking socks. And lastly, I should have packed a book instead of just my phone to make it easier to kill time. Basically this trip failed because I did not transition from fall to winter backpacking. Oh well, lesson learned.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Appalachian Trail (NJ) in 2013

Delaware Water Gap to road just past Mashipacong Shelter
August 14 - 16 (2 nights)

I found old photos of a backpacking trip from a couple years ago and decided to post a couple to the blog.

I got dropped off at the Delaware Water Gap to hike the New Jersey section of the AT. I don't remember a lot of the details at this point, but I do remember enjoying the views once I was up on the ridge.

I hiked about 15 miles the first day and set up camp in a small clearing off the trail. When I woke up in the morning and went to retrieve my bear bag, there was a bear up in a tree about 50 feet from the bear bag and there was another one on the ground about a 100 feet away. I made some noise and headed back to pack up and give them some space. About a mile down the trail there was another bear up in a tree right off the trail. The bear did not pay any attention to me as I hurried along. A minute later I ran into a south bound thru-hiker and stopped to warn him about the bear. We were chatting for a minute when one of us looked up and right above us were three cubs looking down. We both took a couple pics and said goodbye. I did not see anymore bears the rest of the day or the next. Pretty cool experience.

The second night I set up camp at the Gren Anderson Shelter and chatted with another south bound thru-hiker. I ended up not hiking the whole NJ part of the AT, I missed the last bit of High Point State Forest because my feet were killing me and I arranged for my wife to pick me up a little earlier than planned. But, it was 3 days of great hiking weather and I got to see a different part of NJ than I usually do when we visit my in-laws.