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.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Savage Gulf

Savage Gulf State Park (TN)
Collins West Trailhead
12/8 - 12/10/17
2017 bag nights: 31
Miles hiked: ~25

I met JC at the Collins West trailhead about noon. The temperature was just about 30 degrees. The weather forecast was cloudy/windy with overnight lows in the upper teens. We both were hopeful that camping down in the valley would shelter us from at least some of the wind.

We decided to hike in on the Collins Gulf Trail and then come back on the Collins Rim Trail, so right off the bat we were descending into the canyon.
There was a little bit of ice on the trail near Sutter Falls, but it wasn't enough to be a problem.

Sutter Falls

The trail switchbacks down and then parallels the Collins River and soon comes to a side trail to Horsepound Falls

And then not much later comes to Fall Creek and the sink. I liked this little waterfall pouring out of the rockface.

Looking upstream from Fall Creek Sink. All of this water disappears underground about 30 feet behind me.

And then on to Sawmill Campground and our home for the next two nights. The reservation website showed two other sites as being reserved for the first night, but no one ever appeared. We never had a ranger come check on us either.

The water source for Sawmill is .3 miles back on the trail. Schwoon Spring is easily the coolest place I have ever filtered water from, the water comes out of a cave in a large rock face, drops about 10-15 feet into a large hole and disappears underground, hard to explain, but very cool to see.

An attempt to capture the bigger picture with a pano, 5 photos stitched vertically, doesn't come close to capturing the full effect of the place.

A wide angle view with JC for perspective

The first night we gathered a bunch of firewood and were very comfortable, no wind at all.

For the second day, we hiked towards Stone Door with the idea of doing a loop at the end or just an out and back. The Connector Trail is very hard going in places, lots of rocks and tree roots, so we ended up hiking to Ranger Creek Falls and then turning around.

On the way out, we stopped and checked out the Cator Savage cabin.

Really weird ice crystals, there were hundreds of these along the ground. We both thought that they were caterpillars or moths until we looked more closely, never seen anything like it before.

The Cator Savage cabin in the middle of Savage Gulf

One of the suspension bridges along the connector trail, it was kind of weird walking along a bridge 20 feet above dry ground. Why/when is a bridge like this necessary?

A nice stretch of the connector trail

We had lunch at Ranger Creek Falls, but did not linger too long since it was windy and damp and cold. The tree in the bottom left is covered in ice which gives an idea of how much mist was in the air.

We got back to camp, had a couple Advil to counteract the Connector Trail and relaxed for a bit until dinner/campfire time. Another night without anyone else around.

The next day packed up and headed up the Stagecoach Road Trail to the Collins Rim Trail.
More water on the hike out of the gulf along the Stagecoach Road

Nice view from the Collins Rim Trail, great day for hiking

Got back to the trailhead around 1 and went to find food, neither of us had had time to do any research ahead of time and Yelp did not have too many suggestions. We ended up at something Dairy Bar were we both had an ok cheeseburger and fries, need to do more research for the next time.

Gray's Arch

Trailhead: Gray's Arch
Red River Gorge

A personal day in the Gorge. I tend to avoid the Grays Arch area when the weather in nice (especially weekends) since it is so popular, but I figured I might be safe on a weekday. I saw a total of three people on the trails, so I got my wish.

Sandstone art

I find it interesting how the tree root follows the contours of the sandstone

Grays Arch from a couple different angles

View from a classic Red River Gorge overlook

A great couple of hours in the gorge and then back to civilization to pick up my kids after school. 

Thanksgiving at Deep Creek Lake

Thanksgiving weekend 2017
Deep Creek Lake (MD)

We met my wife's family in Maryland for Thanksgiving again.

Doug and I took the kids for a dayhike in Deep Creek Lake State Park on Thanksgiving day.

And then I hiked the Big Savage Mountain Trail by myself on Friday.

It starts out nice and smooth and then quickly turns into rocky switchbacks as it climbs 1500 feet in about 1.5 miles.

My goal for the day was the firetower to check out the view.

I only climbed up a little way, but the view was impressive.

One of my hopes for the weekend was a little bit of astro-photography, but the light pollution was terrible. I ended up bailing after a little bit and going back inside to enjoy the fire and company.

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