John Muir Trail to Leatherwood Ford, BSFNRRA, Backpack #80

We went to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area a couple of months ago to backpack with a group from our local Sierra Club. It was my 80th backpack. Not a bad number  for backpacking for 20 years but somehow I had expected to be over 100 by now.  Life has managed to get in the way.

The 125,000 acres that comprise the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (BSFNRRA) are located on the Cumberland Plateau between middle Tennessee and middle Kentucky. It is a beautiful area, rich in geographically significant rock formations, specifically natural bridges. BSFNRRA has one of the highest concentrations of natural bridges in the eastern US.  Protecting the area was the dream of Tennessee Senator Howard Baker, Jr (of Watergate fame) who was from Huntsville, TN, a small town about 25 miles from what is now the park boundary. With Senator Baker as the legislation cosponsor and shepherd, the bill to create the BSFNRRA was signed into law by President Nixon on March 7, 1974.

Our adventure began on Saturday morning at the group leader’s house (Will Skelton) where 11 of us gathered with our assorted gear and divided into 4 cars for the nearly 2 hour drive roughly north-west of Knoxville.  We left early by our standards (8:00 AM) for a short 4 mile hike but Will had a detour in mind, the “Double Arches” natural bridge.

DSCN0135

How much gear can one car carry??  No, how much gear can 4 people carry?  Mine is the blue backpack on top!

The Double Arches are found on 16.7 acres of land purchased in 2015 by The Nature’s Conservancy. The arches are estimated to have formed about 300 million years ago. The property is bordered on two side by the BSFNRRA. Unfortunately, it is boardered on the entry side by a private horse club who gave us a bit of a tongue lashing for parking on “their” property. Hopely a different entrance will be developed easements will be obtained, meanwhile, don’t get me started on the damage horses to do trails…

We drove an hour or so out of our way to see the arches but it was worth it.  The hike in was an easy 1.9-miles out and back.

DSCN0138

The Double Arches, one high, one angled below.  Note the tree growing in the back right of the photo.

DSCN0151

Here is the tree.  It has bent and adapted to the rock which is in its growth trajectory. And oh the initials, “fools names and fools faces” as my Dad use to quote.

Now it was off to the main event of the day, the backpack.  After an unusally long car shuttle (another reason to leave Knoxville early), we hit the trail toward Leatherwood Bridge, located 7.5 miles from the trailhead. This trail section was recently completed and connects the Honey Creek Loop with the John Muir Trail via Devil’s Den and the O & Bridge. Our plan for the day?  Hike approximately 4.4 miles and set up camp on the plateau above the Big South Fork River gorge.  That shouldn’t be too tough, right?!

DSCN0158

Based on our dress, the weather was obviously cool and the sky was overcast.  Driving into the BSFNRRA, we were mostly in low clouds which often left water droplets on the car window.  John is in front with the blue jacket, Will in the orange vest to the right.

DSCN0160

Yep, 7.5 miles to the shuttle cars.  The shuttle drive took 40 minutes or longer….

The hike was “a bit more” difficult than billed and due to the spring rain, the creeks were running higher than expected.  Unfortunately, I have a life long fear of water crossings  where balancing on rocks and/or logs is required, I attribute this to many instances of loosing my balance and falling into mountain streams as a kid .

At the first significant  water crossing, it took me about 1/2 second to realize that leaving my water shoes in the car was a bad idea.  I suffered a minor panic attach, something I am not plagued with in my “regular” life (and not usually on backpacks). After a few minutes of fretting, I took my boots off, tied them around my neck and stuffed my socks in my boots.  I plunged my bare feet into the ice-cold water and started across. The water felt swift and the rocks were slick.  John finally talked me through the crossing with some encouragement from the rest of the group.  The rest of the water crossings were painless, but the discomfort from the first one lingered with me.

DSCN0164

The first of a number of small and large waterfalls.

DSCN0167

A small but impressive sandstone rock formation.

DSCN0173

No way to climb this rock formation except grab the rope and pull ones self up.  This is John taking his turn.

DSCN0175

A beautiful winding rock trail lined in moss. The trail actually overhangs the rock formation below.

DSCN0180

This little fall would either be a dribble or would not exist without the spring rain.  Based on the fire ring, this cozy site has been used for a camp.

DSCN0186

The rock formations are massive.  For perspective, my husband, who is in the front of the picture is 6’2″.

A good hike in the BSFRRA is not complete without a rock squeeze and we were not disappointed.  This one involved scrambling up a boulder on one’s knees (the guy in the tan pants is in climb mode), swinging one’s feet around in front and sliding down the other side, all while keeping one’s backpack from hitting the rocks and throwing one out of position.

DSCN0193

Rock squeeze!

DSCN0196

Just on the other side of the rock squeeze is this hidden waterfall. Spectacular!

DSCN0202

A beautiful red rock wall striated with moisture escaping from the saturated ground above.

Camp is always a welcome sight, a time put down one’s pack for a while, relax, eat, spend time with friends and refresh for the next day’s effort.  Our camp was a lightly forested area with space for many tents.  We needed the space, we had 9 tents.  A wooden picnic table served as a food prep area and, as we were early in the backpacking season, we found an abundance of downed wood for a campfire. A pleasant (but cool) evening ws spent around the campfire telling stories and having a great time.

DSCN0211

Home for the night, our little REI tent.

DSCN0215

Big South Fork River Gorge, magnificent isn’t it?!!

A foggy morning broke all too soon (although at 63, sleeping on a thermarest and climbing out of a tent is not getting any easier ).  As the sun came up, hundreds of magnificent snow white spider webs covered in tiny water droplets were revealed to be scattered  across the forest floor.  It was a magical start to the day.

DSCN0228

Foggy morning sunrise

We were in no particular hurry to leave camp, I believe we pulled out around 9:00 AM.  We headed off the plateau and down a steep slope toward the O & W Bridge which extends across the expansive Big South Fork River.

DSCN0240

From camp we hiked about .25 mile, crossed over our water source, a shallow, fast running creek and came across this fabulous rock house, Devils Den Rock House.

DSCN0246

Devils Den from the inside out.  It is an interesting rock house in that it is not part of a cliff face but is a stand alone structure.

DSCN0259

Just below the rock house is this impressive waterfall.  The volume of water is likely higher than normal due to recent rains.

DSCN0278

Finally we reached the O & W Railroad Bridge which has been turned into a car and pedestrian bridge.  The  bridge has been undergoing massive repairs and was just opened to foot traffic the day before our trip.  It is not yet open to cars.

DSCN0281

High above the Big South Fork Cumberland River

DSCN0291

O & W Railroad Bridge (Oneida and Western Bridge) was originally built-in 1880 and moved to its current location in 1915 by the Nashville Bridge Company. It was used as a railroad bridge until 1954. The bridge is a Whipple through truss design.

We hiked the 3.1-miles out at a reasonable pace although stopping often to enjoy numerous blooming wildflowers.  Upon arrival in the Leatherwood Ford parking lot, we waited what seemed much longer than 40 minutes (or was it just that we were ready to go home) for the car shuttle then headed to Oneida for lunch.  We had a great weekend and look forward to our next event with the group in July!

DSCN0301

Waiting for the car shuttle in the Leatherwood Ford parking lot.

Posted in Backpacking | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

On running…

For the last 22 or so years, I have had an on and off again affair with running. Never much of an athlete, I took my first tentative steps in my early forties and have continued at some level since.  While my best running years were my mid 50’s, I believe the later in life start has allowed me to continue running into my 60’s and hopefully beyond.  Running has been good for me providing a sense of accomplishment and a tool to help manage my weight.

Though I rarely go a week without at least one run, some weeks I am all about running and some weeks not so much.  My biggest running motivator is an adventure goal with a deadline!

Which brings me to my current situation.  John and I have committed to a 6 night/7 day late August trek in Eagle Cap Wilderness, Oregon. Because we have spent the last few months “in discussion” about our destination, I have struggled to get my mind around getting in shape (cue up violin music).  This week reality finally settled in!  Yikes, only 89 days till departure.  I think I found my motivation!
So this is how Eagle Cap Training Week One shook out :

Monday, May 22: Set my alarm for 4:30 AM and, at 4:30 AM, reset it for the regular time.  Grrrrrr, still tired from Saturday’s 8 mile hike to Charlie’s Bunion and couldn’t convince myself that running was a good idea.  On the plus side, 1-min of planking done.

Tuesday, May 23: Ditto Monday,  but yay for another 1-min plank.

Wednesday, May 24: Third time is a charm.  Up at 4:30 Am for a 2:42 mile run around the neighborhood. It is really dark at 4:30 AM and NO ONE else is stirring.  Lucky for me I have my trusty headlamp and John to keep me company.  When we got home, we patted ourselves on the back for getting out the door! And yay for another 1-min plank.

Thursday, May 25: Riding high from yesterday’s  early wake up, we were up again at 4:30 AM.  This time for a 2.11 mile run, I had an early meeting at work so we cut our distance a little.  Nope, still no one out that early and yes I did the 1-min plank.

Friday, May 26:  This is my late day at work and my hardest day.  Nobody in our house is getting up at 4:30 AM.  1-min plank done.

Saturday, May 27: We slept in (7:30ish). After all, it was my 64th birthday and gosh I deserved it!! Went for a 4.02 (yes, .02 counts) around and just outside the neighborhood.  Since we are in a build phase (read: just getting back in to it), we (I) avoided the hills and kept it flat.  Going for distance this day and hills would have crushed me!!

20170528_132619

Flowers at Suttree Park with the Tennessee River and city skyline in the background

20170528_132839

Flowers and dandelions at Suttree Park

Sunday, May 28: I think my husband tried to kill me today (well in a loving, let me help you get in shape sort of way).  After another sleep-in/relax and drink coffee sort of morning, we headed out for the second run of the weekend, 3.57 miles.  Again, around the ‘hood, not too exciting but getting it done. My legs are feeling a little tired now but I am feeling quite happy with the weekend effort.

But it appears I was not done.  John announced that we really MUST do steps.  After all, we will be hiking a lot of uphill and well, how do you get in shape to go uphill if you don’t go up hill.  So off to the University of Tennessee we head to walk the steps on The Hill or as it is known by the faculty and students, “Cardiac Hill.” We climbed all the steps around the hill, then one wicked set at Neyland Stadium and the and up and down through the stadium parking garage.  We climb 631 steps up, I did not count the down.  By the end of the effort, I was gasping for air, my legs were trashed, I don’t think my husband even took a deep breath.

So, that was our effort for Eagle Cap Training-Week One.  All in all, not a bad effort for our first week.

Total Miles Run:  12.1 miles

Total Steps: 631

20170528_133627

 2nd Creek runs along the base of the east side of “The Hill”.  It is usually a drainage ditch but based on recent rain, the water level is higher than usual. 

20170528_135003_051

Ayres Hall, the hallmark of the University of TN.  This is half of the staircase that climbs from Cumberland Avenue to the Ayres Hall patio. The steps are on the north side of “The Hill”.  

20170528_140401

The staircase from Phillip Fulmer Way to the top of The Hill .  This is roughly the west side of The HIll. The top of Ayres Hall is visible above the enclosed walkway.

20170528_141952

Knoxville skyline and the Tennessee River from the top floor of Neyland Stadium parking garage.  The green roofed boathouse contains the women’s rowing team sculls and workout area. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Postcard from the W/E-It was a Wet One…

Woke to overcast skies on Saturday morning, it had rained all night. With John still sick after a week of sneezing and sniffling, I would be on my own for most of the weekend. I decided to beat round three (or was it four or five) of incoming storms and head out for an early run. Although the humidity was high, the temperature hovered around 60 F, conditions I find appealing for a good run.

20170422_100933

Threatening skies for an early morning run.

I don’t get the opportunity to run on my own much these days, John is often at my side (or usually ahead). While I enjoy his companionship and encouragement, if truth be known, I enjoy the occasional run alone. It is my time to let my mind go blank, dream or sort though things that maybe bothering me.  So Saturday’s run was a treat.

The run seemed effortless. I wound my way through the streets of the neighborhood and out to the new boardwalk along the river.  Before I knew it, my legs began to feel heavy.  I looked at my Garmin and realized I was near 4.0 miles. Where had the time gone?  Knowing I was not going to make 5.0 miles,  I stopped at 4 and walked the rest of the way home.  It was a very good run for me!

20170422_101332

Rain soaked entrance to our neighborhood. Everything is greening up nicely.

20170422_102258

Rain soaked iris from my garden.

After the run came a 3 hour grocery run (3 stores and lots of walking up and down the aisles), we were out of most of the essentials.  I came home to a bored and restless John, who offered to buy dinner if I would drive.  I said yes, of course.

We struggled per our usual routine of trying to agree on a restaurant, finally settling on a burger place (I shutter at the thought as I write this) called Stock Burger .  Not long after we left the house, we noticed the sky had an odd color with a series of heavy, unusual looking clouds.  The further northwest we traveled, the worse things appeared.

At first, a few rain drops fell, then a heavy rain started and suddenly the sky opened up and buckets and buckets splashed (crashed) down.  Next came the hail, big, loud pieces of ice pelting the heck out of the car.  I haven’t looked too closely but I am hoping for no noticeable damage. Finally the worst of the storm passed and the rain went from intense to heavy. We made it to the restaurant in one piece though a bit damp getting from the car to the front door.  The burger (and fries) I ordered negated every step I had run in the morning.

20170422_174318

I can’t believe I ordered, much less ate most of this.

I was hungry and dove into the burger. Got through most of it and the fries before my stomach started cramping.  I could not eat the rest.  I did manage to put away the vanilla cake donut with maple frosting and carmel drizzle below before the cramping turned into intense pain.  I thought for sure I had food poisoning but a couple of Tums and laying down eventually solved the problem.  By all accounts, eating this type of food is poison but sometimes it is hard to resist!  John had the same type of stomach cramps later in the night so we have marked Stock Burgers off our restaurant list.

20170422_194322

Duck Donuts are amazing….   Glad we do not live within quick driving distance of the store front.

The rain continued through Saturday night and all day Sunday.  Knoxville received a record 2″ of rain in 24 hours. We considered throwing life rafts out for our newly planted coleus, azaleas and dogwood but the sun should be out tomorrow to dry things out.

20170423_073744

Rain puddles in the garden

Sunday has been a lazy day.  A little bit of cooking, some laundry but mostly writing and resting.  Rainy days are good for that sort of thing. We found ourselves restless mid-afternoon and headed downtown for lunch (food seems to be a theme for the weekend).  Even with the rain, the Sunday crowd was out.

Comfort food at Sweet P’s hit the spot.  John had a andoula sausage sandwich and mac and cheese while I settled on pulled chicken (somewhat healthy) and mac and cheese (ouch).  We were home an hour later and back to relaxing mode.  All in all a needed restful weekend!

20170423_135331

Our favorite downtown dive!

20170423_135723

Shame on me for not having my toe nails painted but I have my rain shoes on and am ready for the puddles.

20170423_140140

Downtown Knoxville in the rain

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Weekend Come and Gone

The weekend came and left too fast.  We started Saturday morning with a neighborhood run. John took off in a dash. It was warm and humid and I just wasn’t feeling it so I dragged my feet. We hit the usual spots,  the South Knoxville “strip,” Suttree Park and a lap or two around our neighborhood boulevard. I clinched my teeth through most of the run and stopped the second my Garmin hit 3.0 miles. As a result, I had to walk my tired self home another mile.  John was home before me with an additional mile run on his Garmin.  Sigh…

20170325_105927

New South Knoxville Riverwalk, just outside our neighborhood

After lunch John convinced me that I wanted get on my bicycle. I really don’t why I agreed as the run had been so painful.   We loaded the bikes on the car and drove to the downtown waterfront (about 2 miles from our house) to avoid bicycling the worst of the hills. As it turned out, the ride was great!  We rode a 12 mile out and back route on a branch of our local greenway system.  The minor aggravations that occur when not regularly on the bike (aching neck, torso and tush) did not happen for me. I contribute that to 8 weeks of daily planking and push ups.  YES!

DSCN0094

Looks like we are in jail but this is the view as we bicycled on the Alcoa Highway cantilevered greenway across the Tennessee River toward the UT Ag Campus and Cherokee Farm.  The fence protects all of us bicyclers and runners.

20170325_135752

Fence along the border between the University of Tennessee agricultural farms and the greenway.

20170325_184032

We had dinner al fresco, our first of the season. I was one tired girl barely mustering up a smile. 

We finished the day with a stroll downtown.  The Big Ears Festival was in progress and while we had no plans to stop in a music venue, we knew the crowd on the streets would be interesting.  We were not disappointed.  We parked on the outer edge of town and walked. We headed first to Market Square to watch the stilt walkers, street musicians and drifters.  The restaurants were full and diners poured out onto the outdoor patios to eat, drink and enjoy the warm spring evening.

DSCN0100

Downtown revelers

DSCN0103

Stilt walkers and musicians

We walked to the end of Gay Street and watched the sunset from the rail yard bridge.  We then circled around to the Old City and back to Gay Street.  We stopped at The Phoenix Pharmacy and Fountain for hand dipped ice cream smothered in gooey toppings and whipped cream and finally returned to the car, just a few minutes short of our two-hour free parking limit. Sometime before turning in for the night, I checked my Garmin, 20,451 steps for the day. Whew!

 

20170325_193959

Saturday night sunset

DSCN0108

Sunset reflected in the windows of renovated warehouses along the rail yard. 

DSCN0117

The Pheonix was busy!  

Rain was forecast for Sunday and it was a surprise to wake up and find that the area had experienced only light showers overnight. My legs were having nothing to do with running so we set out for a long walk, again on our local greenway system.  This time we headed in the opposite direction as Saturday, toward (and beyond) Ijams Nature Center.

The stretch of greenway, known as the Will Skelton Greenway is one of the prettier walks in the Knoxville system of walking/running/biking paths. We walked at a determined pace, a pace that was faster than my feet felt comfortable.  The steps and miles clicked by as we passed through the Nature Center and into the Wildlife Management Area.  Finally we were striding alongside the river.  Somewhere around the 3.5 mile point we decided to turn around.  Both of us were feeling the two days of effort.  We hit out front porch with 7.0 miles of walking, far further than planned but there is something about chasing steps with our Garmins.

20170326_114025

Bits of leaf green are visible on the trees along the greenway.  Spring is almost fully here. 

20170326_114408

Beaver dam along the Will Skelton Greenway. 

DSCN0121

A manged wildlife area lies on one side the this section of the Will Skelton Greenway, the Tennessee Rive is on the other.

DSCN0122

Tenneesee River from the greenway.  Will Skelton had this bench placed at this bend of the river in memory of his parents. 

We ended the day a few hundred steps short of 20,000.  We had fun being so active but I paid for the weekend warrior attitude with foot pain, top of the foot pain that is just now subsiding, a full 2 days later.  What is that about??!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Remodeling and the Arrival of Spring

It has been busy around here in a very deliberate sort of way.  Earlier this week, winter handed the baton over to spring but we hardly noticed,  the winter of 2016-2017 will be remembered as a mild one, at least by us.

We are in the middle of a remodel project on our main floor bath. Conversations about remodeling began last fall when we had plans drawn up to add a master suite, garage, storage and laundry room, some 1600 sq feet of space plus a deck (and retaining wall). We spent many nights dreaming and discussing but as we considered our age and the hit to our investments we realized an addition did not make good financial sense. Much to our contractor’s disappointment, we decided on a smaller project, a new main floor bath and linen closet.  Not as sexy as the big addition but the main floor bath serves its two masters as well as our casual guests.

And so we have begun the work in this tiny 25 sq foot space of a bath.  It has had one redo from its initial 1942 design, which was 25 years ago when John, a struggling and single father of two added tile to the shower, replaced the old linoleum with new and put in a new vanity. Flash forward to 2009 when I moved in and the walls were updated to pumpkin. Not a color I was particularly happy with but our differences on decorating are legendary (at least in this house) and John was doing the work. Besides, it didn’t look bad at the time. The cheap medicine cabinet was purchased during the repainting escapade to “hold the space” until we found the medicine cabinet we wanted. Obviously we never spent much time searching!!  After a while, one becomes blind to such issues.

20170228_054140

20170228_054201

20170228_054307

In the process of sprucing  up the old girl, our contractor stripped everything down to the studs. The old cast iron pipes, visible below, have been replaced. New studs have been nestled in amonst the old to level out the walls.  The rotting wood on the floor has been replaced, well actually the whole floor has been replaced and the old casement window is in the dumpster.

20170228_191252

.20170302_175630

After 25 days, progress is visible. We now have shiny, new (but covered up) copper pipes,  a beautiful new window and subway tile going up on the walls.  Not to be forgotten, a  thermostatically controlled heated marble floor has been installed. Estimated time of completion?   Oh, another 25 days or so….

20170323_175839

On another topic, we are heralding the arrival of spring, at least inside our house.  The streptocarpus, “Ladyslippers White Ice” below came home with me from a recent trip to a local greenhouse and has found a home near a sunny window in our living room.While the name reminds me of a throat infection, I find the flowers stunning and so far it has been a prolific bloomer.

20170319_180107

This little geranium was also a recent addition. The color is Light Salmon and I fell in love with it from afar as I was looking for Lily of the Valley at the local greenhouse. I am considering it (and 5-6 more of the same) for a large pot in the front garden.  The flower is a double bloomer and the color is so feminine and delicate but it is hard to get away from the traditional red geranium seen in pots all over Europe.

DSCN0074

.A couple of African Violets are blooming profusely including my favorite, the traditional deep purple.

DSCN0088

And we often have these large lilies in a vase somewhere around the house. Often in white but sometimes pink or yellow. The fragrance is very heady and can blanket the house.  The smell often makes me sneeze but John loves it.

DSCN0090

Giant Lily

DSCN0093

Double bloom African Violet

And lastly is this little guy.  Either he is confused about the season or we are.  Christmas Cactus blooms in late March-early April?

DSCN0085

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Postcard from the W/E-Backpack #79

We went on a backpack this weekend.  By all accounts it was short and easy but we haven’t been on a backpack in almost 4 months so it felt like starting again.  Duane Simmons, my first backpacking partner went along for the exercise and social aspect.  His stories kept us entertained and laughing on the trail and in camp.

The hike began in the Elkmont are of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  We parked behind the campground (closed for the season) and amongst the cabins in Historic Elkmont. Historic Elkmont has an interesting history beginning with the Little River Logging Company then summer homes for the elite in Knoxville and surrounding areas.  After years of a tug of war between environmentalist and supporters of preservation, a compromise was reached.  This little piece of history and status update appeared in the Knoxville News Sentinel on January 27, 2017″

“Elkmont is one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains and offers a glimpse of life in the decades before the property became a national park.  Logging operations began harvesting timber from the area around 1880.  

The timber industry was eventually replaced by a resort town where people enjoyed the area’s natural beauty.  Vacationers bought property and built 74 cabins along the rivers and creeks as part of the Appalachian Club.   Elkmont’s resort community was comprised of three neighborhoods:  Daisy Town, Millionaire’s Row, and Society Hill.

When the Great Smoky Mountains became a reality, the National Park Service allowed owners to keep their cabins until the early 1990s.  Since then, the vacant buildings have crumbled.  Signs now warn people to keep out of the unstable structures.

In 2009, the National Park Service announced plans to preserve 19 of the cabins and tear down the remaining 55.  Of the 19 cabins spared, 17 are in Daisy Town where paved roads and parking lots allow visitors to drive directly to the site. “

While I initially worked with environmentalist to tear down the structures,  I am glad a glimpse of this history will be preserved. Elkmont is a different but important piece of park history.

But back to the backpack…  We hiked on the Cucumber Gap Trail which merged with Jakes Gap to Campsite #21, our destination for the night.  The trail is an easy walk and most places are wide enough for three across to walk comfortably. Because it was cold or more likely the last weekend in January, we had the campsite to ourselves, a rare pleasure in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Below are a smattering of pictures from the evening:

dscn0053

John unloading gear into the tent. 

dscn0052

Duane doing the same. 

dscn0048

One of many rock walls remnants left over from cabins built in the park.  

dscn0061

dscn0055

The sun seems to set early in the mountains.  In reality we loose visiblity as it slips below the taller peaks. 

dscn0063

Winter starkness.

dscn0057

We saw too many of these snags in the campground where people had obviously hacked away at living trees, most likely for wood.

dscn0062

Being dead of winter when the number of backpackers are seriously reduced, we had no trouble finding wood for our evening fire. 

dscn0064

Of all the people we hike and backpack with, no one can build a fire quite like Duane.  A one time Boy Scout and always a perfectionist, he has the “art of the fire” figured out. 

dscn0069

A warm fire kept us comfy and talking for hours. 

dscn0070

A glimpse of the Elkmont resort community restoration.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Southern Snow!

Yesterday I woke up to a real southern treat, SNOW! Significant snow by our standards,  an official 3″. With salt trucks running the roads on Friday and dire weather predictions all week, I was convinced the snow would turn north and miss us.  Afterall weather fronts often do funny things around our Great Smoky Mountains and as a result, the weather folks usually get it wrong. But they were dead on this time, yay for a good southern snow.

On the other hand, it is good not to be living in Blasdell, NY where 28″ of snow fell. According to the National Weather forecast, 65.4% of the country is currently covered in snow and ice. Brrrrrr!

I intended to be out running 1st thing Saturday morning, 4 miles was the plan.Over the past six weeks my running has really suffered; I went on two weekend trips, spent four snowy days in Quebec City (a later post) and family came in town for the holidays. However, a layer of ice lay below the snow and the temperature hovered around 18 degrees F, so I gave into the situation and took a 3.5 mile walk with my hubby. It was cold!!

Our destination was an out and back to  Ijams Nature Center , the 300 acre cornerstone to South Knoxville’s urban wilderness, a mecca for mountain bicyling, birders, hikers, canoers, SUP boarders, runners and photographers.  This amazing area is a quick 1.5 mile hike (or run) from the house!

dscn0018

We walked the short .5 mile through our neighborhood and jumped on the Will Skelton Greenway.  The greenway begins in our neighborhood park  on the banks of the Tennessee River and continues along an inlet that branches off the river (above).  Each summer I swear I am going to rent a kayak and paddle through the inlet. 2017 is going to be my year to “get it done”!

dscn0021

Bird houses were installed along the Will Skelton Greenway in 2016.  I think they are decorative only.  The boxes sit low enough for the curious to peak in on any given walk (not guilty yet).

dscn0023

The wind was strong Friday night and appears to have prevented the light, fluffy snow from settling on the branches in the trees.  We were not the 1st walkers (or bicyclists) on the greenway, but not many had come before us.

dscn0029

The water was lovely from the trail lookout in Ijams Nature Center. The inlet is is part of  the same inlet as the first photo, about a mile (probably less by water) east.  During the summer, the vegetation is heavy and the water is not as visible.

dscn0032

Snowy bridge in Ijams Nature Center

dscn0033

Winter wonderland

dscn0035

The ice covering this pond was very superficial.  Like others before us, we did not venture onto the boardwalk for fear of slipping. John had a little incident earlier on another bridge but shhhhh, I didn’t tell you that!

Stay safe!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment