So, what about this ‘Groundhogs Day’? I don’t know a whole lot about it, but every year I wonder what this creature is up to, and how it is somehow responsible for the weather. Sitting on their hind legs, groundhogs kind of resemble a miniture, acorn eating, clover munching grizzly bear. They live in burrows, perhaps under a bridge or along a creek-bank, and hibernate through the winter. From my days of living on the cow farm, I learned that it is indeed a good sign to see a groundhog foraging in the fields, and good weather is on the way.
What February 2nd has to do with anything, I have no idea, but expect it has something to do with another holiday that preceded ‘groundhogs day’ by thousands of years known as ‘Imbolc’ by the Gaelic and Celtic cultures. Celebrated on the same day, Imbolc was the day that was dedicated to the Goddess Brigid, and was situated exactly halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Anyway, it is nice to know that people have been celebrating this day for thousands of years–Hairnt!
What with the warmer weather recently, I managed to sneak in a few hikes. I trekked up the Appalachian Trail towards ‘Curly Maple Gap’ and climbed out onto the Big Boulder that juts out of the side of the ridge like a gigantic shinbone. You can get a nice view from there, and it is just a cool place to be, especially when the sun sets over the ridges. I didn’t stay long enough to watch the sunset, however, because it is a good two-mile walk back to the car, and I wanted to get back before dark (it gets a little spooky there sometimes).
A few days later, I went out to check out the ‘Lone Oak Trail’, and hiked up to the top of Buffalo Mountain. It was incredibly windy up there! It had been several years since I had hiked to the summit of Buffalo Mountain, apparently. On the one side it looks over the entire Johnson City, with Bays Mountain in the distance, but on the backside, the Cherokee Mountain and Unaka Mountain Chains are more visible.
The ridge trail, which was pretty steep in a few places, and all the switchbacks on the ‘Lone Oak Trail’ showed obvious signs of the forest fire that scorched that part of Buffalo Mountain last May. When I returned from the mountain, I later discovered that the entire area was under a tornado warning…
There is one more hike to mention: ‘Rat Patrol’ (the website wizard here) had the day off and decided to go out ‘on maneuvers’. Due to a lack of good communication skills on my part, I didn’t know he had left out for the Sampson Mountain Wilderness until later that afternoon when I saw the note on my car window.
‘Demerits’ for me, I suppose; but, I did eventually get out there and look for him. Rat has taken ‘no trace’ hiking to a new level, which I must say would be rather refreshing, from my perspective of being the author of a ‘trail stealth’ website, if I hadn’t been trying to find him. In the ‘old days’, he would have left a couple of sticks pointing the direction that he had gone at any crossroads or intersections, but I was left to guess this time. I found the trace of a couple of boot-treads leading off into ‘Devil’s Fork’, and went that way beyond the first falls, and some cool cascades, all the way to the second set of falls.
By this time, I realized Rat hadn’t gone that way…ha ha ha. But it was nice hanging out by the waterfalls–what an awesome place! I am determined to go back up there soon and climb out on the cliffs that loom above the waterfalls, hopefully I will remember to take a camera.
I did eventually find ‘Rat Patrol’ back by the gravel road. He looked like he had been chewed up and spit out by the mountain, like a piece of chewing gum, but he had big ‘Lewis and Clark’-like grin on his face, nevertheless. He had decided to go see the awesome waterfalls that I have named ‘The Triplets’, and also went by the ‘Longarm Falls’ on his way back (he had walked in to take a picture of the ‘Lower Devil’s Fork Falls’ on his way in).
I had told him about the falls several times, and also had showed him some pictures I had taken with a disposable camera, that hadn’t turned out quite right because the film was old. We both wondered why we had never found these falls back ‘in the day,’ when the hiking club explored Rich Mountain back in the late 1980’s.
I accidentally found ‘the Triplets’ (which I am going to have to re-name, because there are actually 4 significant waterfalls in that valley, unless you count the two ten-footers near ‘the devastated road’, which would bring the count up to six waterfalls…the third of which being an enormous rock face that must be a hundred feet high or more…a couple of them possess long cascades just above them and below them, which cannot be discounted either) about two years ago.
Anyway, he had never been there before, and I could tell that he was impressed! I can hardly believe he climbed up those falls, because I know how difficult a climb that it is! The really good news is he took his digital camera and took pictures of ‘everything’! I am Hoping that he will upload those pics on ‘Trailstealth.com’ soon, and possibly write a ‘guest blog’ to record his experience.
Stay tuned for more adventures and groundhog-lore.