The Sill Branch Overlook and Waterfall Hikes

When the hiking club was still moving forward, several years ago, there used to be a colleague in the club who would sometimes preface his comments with the phrase “I’m not whinin’, but…” right before he would pronounce his thoughts on some steep, rocky, 5-mile hill-climb.  There were no such things as ‘easy hikes’ back then, whether it was on the Appalachian Trail, or in the backcountry wilderness hikes.

Some of them were quite grueling, like the 17-miler from Horse Creek to Allen Gap—the last 5 miles in the dark.  As I recall, ‘Rat Patrol’ had ditched his new boots because his feet hurt so badly, and walked sock-footed at least 5 or 6 miles.  Then, there was the unexplainable sound of ’cowbells’ somewhere out on that dark mountain; it was a bit spooky.  Even so, our eyes must have adapted to the darkness, or perhaps ‘the trail’ was taking care of us, since the trail corridor seemed to glow and we didn’t have any more problems…until all 7 of us tried to get in the hot, airless little car that was waiting to take us back to Horse Creek.  If not for the small crack in the window letting in a trace of cool air for me to put my nose near, I believe I would have suffocated—but that’s another story.  Anyway, I sort of feel like the Sill Branch Overlook Hike Report should have a similar preface:  I’m not whinin’, but this is what happened…

Mossy Creek (more…)

Written by in: Trailstealth |

Unaka, Flattop, and Sampson Mountains

The springtime is really starting to kick into gear around here, and it is an amazing transformation between winter and spring in northeast Tennessee. It usually begins with the crocuses, snowdrops, and daffodils. Then, the trees and bushes get in on the act, with the forsythias, the pink-magnolias, the bradford pears, wild cherry, crabapple and red-buds. The grape hyacinths, periwinkle and trout-lilies are also blooming. That is where everything is right now, as we are still waiting for the trillium, the Virginia-bluebells, and Easter-Lilies, and the irises, not to mention the azaleas and ‘a million’ other wildflowers. I really appreciate this ‘awakening’ of the trees and plants, especially now that global warming has made it possible to go hiking in January wearing a t-shirt, and since so many times it seems lately that the seasons change from winter to summer as if someone snapped their finger, and spring is forgotten. Walking in the woods in the spring is so refreshing, and soon the air in the mountain valleys will become sweet with the smell of wildflowers–like Mother Nature’s perfume. The oxygen and exercise must be healthy, too.

I haven’t been out in the woods a whole lot lately; have been kind of taking it easy after straining the hamstring on ‘Longarm Ridge’ a while back. I have been on a few ‘re-hab hikes’ in the last couple weeks, however–one time traveling up to ‘Spivey Gap’ and the Appalachian Trail to walk around Flattop Mountain in the rain. The legs felt horrible at first, but began feeling better after they warmed up some. I only walked about 4 miles that day. I also drove up to Rocky Fork, since it is comparatively close by, and took a few photos of the waterfalls.



Written by in: Trailstealth |

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