Monday, March 24, 2014

More from Frozen Head

Another day in the park, another day of fog on the mountain tops...

It did make for some interesting photos of the mossy capstones up there amid the vines:

An old campsite, complete with large fireplace (?):

Gotta wonder how this ended up there:

Back to the natural type of wonders:

The only deer (of the many that I saw, or maybe it was the same ones over and over) that stood still long enough for a photo:

The next day - finally a sunny day!  A great day for a hike with the husband:

If you see this during the Barkley, you are off course:

Testicle Spectacle trail up the powerline:

And Meth Lab Hill down the other side, along with an odd piece of trash that John found on the dirt road.  In case you can't read it, it says "Read and follow all warnings before use" and we thought that was appropriate for the Barkley:

Nice stick:

"Digging of Ginseng Prohibited" - ?

The iconic mine on the Old Prison Mine Trail, along with an orange hat that looks strangely familiar:

Geometry with John:

Old prison guard house:

Checking out the Rat Jaw climb for the first time...

We're going up THAT?!

For now, we took the candy-ass way around on roads to the top, taking a look at Tub Springs along the way:

Tower on top of Frozen Head Mountain:

Nice views from the tower!  It was so great to be able to see around me for once.

Looking down Rat Jaw from the top:

And over toward Indian Head:

Strolling back to the truck:

One of the really loud frogs along the way - it shut up when we approached but we managed to spot it in the puddle.  And it's really tiny.  Big voice for such a little creature.

If nothing else, the hikes around Frozen Head have been super enjoyable!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Frozen Head meanderings

Enough touring around for a little while, time to get to know one place for a couple weeks.  Time to get to know Frozen Head State Park, at least the parts we are allowed to explore before the Barkley.  The race is coming up soon - starting Saturday March 29.  Yikes!

OK, calm down and take a hike...

Fog was the general rule for several days (and it might be the general rule, generally).  Still, it wasn't so thick that we needed the "Trail ->" directional sign.  At least not yet.

Excited to be at the site of the famous race!

Heading off into the cloud:

There are some amazing rock (and rock/tree) formations:

The "Pillars of Death":

Vine madness on the backside of the Bird Mountain trail:

John can't resist...

Sort of a slow-action series of pictures:

Trying to rid the log (and the trail) of an obstinate vine:


Foggy moss:

THE yellow gate:

More prettiness in the wilderness:

A legacy tree:

Love this sign, fittingly out in the farther reaches of the park:

I shall name this rock Harry:

And this one Big Cat Face (OK, I can see how hallucinations could be a problem out here on lack of sleep):

The trail goes through more than one root stock:

And is graced with a couple blowdowns, this one the most tangled:

Pretty pond:

The main jeep road through the park, also known as Quitters Road because it's one of the primary ways people get back to camp after they decide to stop racing.

Lots of pretty little waterfalls everywhere:

A good start!  The preparation has been enjoyable, if nothing else  :)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Clingman's Dome

Rather on a whim we decided on an overnight hike.  We were planning a long day up into the Smokies to the high point of Tennessee, but then changed it to a long night instead.  Good for testing out light systems for the Barkley.  We parked near a ranger station at the base of the mountains in North Carolina and started up the long climb.

The first section was a constant uphill, then a middle section of flat/downhill and a couple interesting short ridge crossings.  The last third was back to an uphill grind, with the added bonus of a couple inches of snow.  Close to the top my legs were finally tired, so I guess it was an appropriate amount of training over the last couple days.

We popped out on the summit road (closed to cars for the winter) and had another mile or so up the road to reach the parking lot and the sidewalk to the top.  Along the way we noticed this awesome ice formation that appears to have a face in it:

John walking ahead of my shadow:

The top was quite the experience on a cold windy night!  Here is what the place looks like on a nice day with other people on it:

We wound up along the spiral walkway and found a little shelter behind the pole that supports the "flying saucer":

Summit photos on the fly and in a bit of a hurry:

I almost got a decent back-lit photo but forgot to turn off my headlamp, and my camera battery was really complaining about the cold so we were lucky to get as many pictures as we did:

We were certainly the only ones around at that time of night, although we saw plenty of tracks on other trails and along the AT that comes along over the top.

Our tracks from coming up, as we were starting down:

Our highpoint page for #22:

It was dawn when we reached the truck at the bottom - time for breakfast!