December 29, 2013

Memorable Hikes of 2013

At Berry College's House O' Dreams atop Lavender Mountain.  (Photograph courtesy of Patricia McAlpin)

2013 has been quite a memorable year.  One of my goals for developing Hiking With Lipstick was to inspire and motivate others (especially middle-age women like me) to improve their physical and mental health by hiking in the beautiful outdoors. I hope in some small way my goal has been accomplished.

Hiking has been so beneficial to my physical and mental health.  I have developed many new friendships, hiked many beautiful trails, and created wonderful memories.  

Here is a glimpse of some memorable hikes in 2013: 

MOST SCENIC HIKE:  the Sentier du Littoral, Cap d’ Antibes, France

The Big Guy (my husband) and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary in May with a trip to France. What’s a trip to France without a little hiking?  Fortunately,  I was able to convince the Big Guy to hike the Sentier du Littoral located in southern France on the famous Cote d’Azur (Azure Coast) near Antibes. It is a coastal pathway which skirts by multi-million-Euro mansions, guarded around the clock and walled in tall fences. 

Who says you need a Ferrari or Porsche to enjoy the French Riviera?  Just a good pair of sturdy legs, good hiking shoes, and two hours of time is all you need.   Here is a link to Azur Alive--where Provence comes alive.

Forget the mansions. The more interesting scenery was by the water with white limestone creeks nibbled by salt and water, and the deep blue (azure) of the water.

SHORTEST HIKE ON THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL:  Long Creek Falls, Blue Ridge, Georgia

(Photograph courtesy of Chattanooga Hiking Meetup) 
The Long Creek Falls trail is an almost 2-mile round trip along the combined, Appalachian Trail (AT), Benton MacKaye Trail (Section 1), and the Duncan Ridge Trail.  Shown above is Long Creek Falls, one of three beautiful waterfalls on this trail.  

Waterfall No. Two.  Long Creek Falls is well known to AT “thru hikers” since these Falls are only a short distance from the main trail. It is also a popular destination for day hikers.   

The third waterfall.  Long Creek Falls trail  is great for photographers or those want to enjoy the beautiful outdoors without a long, difficult hike.

MOST DIFFICULT SHORT HIKE:  The George Disney Trail, Rocky Face, Georgia

The Disney Trail is named for Confederate Civil War soldier George Disney who is buried at the top of Rocky Face, a mountain west of Dalton, Georgia.

The trail, grave site, and small park area atop the mountain are maintained by the Boy Scouts of America.

The Disney Trail is only 3 miles (in and out), but is considered the most challenging, short trail in the state of Georgia.

A beautiful view of northwest Georgia from the top of Rocky Face, steeped in Civil War history.  Here is more information on why this mountain range was such a challenge for William Tecumseh Sherman.

MOST DIFFICULT LONG HIKE:  Noland Divide in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park near Bryson City, North Carolina 

One of my goals for 2013 was to hike longer, more difficult trails: 10- to 15-mile trails.  The Noland Divide Trail at 11.6 miles offers one of the most scenic all-day hikes in the Smokies and has the largest elevation change of any trail on the North Carolina side of the park.

At 3.5 miles, Lonesome Pine Overlook offered an incredible view of the mountains as well as a nice rest stop.

The book, Hiking Trails of the Smokies, recommends hiking this trail from top to bottom--Clingman's Dome Road to Deep Creek Campground.  Because I wanted the challenge, I took the uphill climb. Fortunately, I was part of a 10-person group with five hikers going up, and five going down.  We accomplished what is called a "key swap."  Two cars were parked at each trailhead, and when we met on the trail, we exchanged car keys and agreed on a rendezvous after the hike.  

Here is "proof" that I finished the climb.  There were a few rest stops along the way as well as some self-coaching: each step took me closer to the end of the trail.

MOST FUN HIKE WITH A FRIEND:  Savage Gulf  in the South Cumberland Recreation Area near Dunlap, Tennessee 

(Photograph courtesy of Patricia McAlpin)

Original plans were to hike on the campus of University of the South near Sewanee, Tennessee. Fortunately for my friend and me, our plans changed so we hiked at nearby Savage Gulf State Natural Area.  

After an overnight stay in nearby Monteagle, Tennessee, we ventured out with our map to hike on the 4.2-mile Savage Day Loop Trail.  Don't worry, we registered at the Ranger Station.

One of the highlights of this trail is Savage Falls.  Above, the rushing waters and cascades of Savage Creek just prior to the falls.

Beautiful Savage Falls.  Have I mentioned that I love waterfalls?

Rattlesnake Point Overlook offered another spectacular view of Savage Falls.  No, we didn't see any rattlesnakes.

(Photograph courtesy of Patricia McAlpin)
After lunch, it was on to another trail at Savage Gulf, Greeter Falls Loop, which didn't disappoint.

(Photograph courtesy of Patricia McAlpin)
The daredevil kayaker who performed some thrilling maneuvers through the rushing waters below Greeter Falls didn't disappoint either.

Hope you've enjoyed this trip down memory lane which leaves me with the desire to return to these trails in 2014 so I can "Keep On Hiking."

December 15, 2013

Elizabeth O'Connor Keeps On Hiking

"Hiking is absolutely the best habit I've ever picked up"  according to Chattanooga hiker Elizabeth O'Connor, a 25-year hiker. Elizabeth's first hike was in the Sierra Nevada Mountains with her work manager after an auditing job in San Francisco.  She was hooked by the stunning scenery. An introvert by nature, Elizabeth feels at ease on the forest trails, and stress from work floats away with every boot step. Elizabeth has Crohn's disease, but hiking has benefited her health immeasurably and helps her to feel more at ease in social situations. 

Although a Florida native, Elizabeth's favorite region for hiking is out west: California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. Pictured above in Colorado, "the high mountains never cease to take my breath away" according to Elizabeth. Some of her most priceless memories include the black outlines of a Ponderosa pine bark, the pale brown and sage-colored chapparal, and a building thunderstorm haunting mountain slopes far below her peak-bagging trail. 

Elizabeth's favorite hiking trip is to go backpacking on a new-to-her section of the Appalachian Trail. Elizabeth says backpacking is the adventure of day hiking taken to the next level, and she loves the sense of self reliance.

Pictured above at Point Reyes, California. Elizabeth began backpacking while living in San Francisco when she hiked with the Sierra Club.  She heard others talk about their backpacking trips and thought,  "Wow, I want to do that."

Shown above with husband Chris O'Connor, also an outdoor enthusiast. Elizabeth says backpacking skills are her second proudest accomplishment, but first and foremost is her marriage to Chris.

Elizabeth and Chris blazing a trail in Spain. 

One of two significant hiking experiences was a 2003 climb to Mount Rainier in the state of Washington. Escorted by professional guides, Elizabeth reached the summit on her third attempt.  "I crave adventure and realize that I will slide into foggy slothfulness without it," says Elizabeth.

The second significant experience was a 2004 climb to Mexico's Pico de Orizaba at 18,491 feet.

Taking a rest in the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.  Elizabeth's advice to anyone interested in hiking is to check out the websites of local hiking and outdoor groups.  Look for easy hikes and don't let your worries stand in the way.  "Everyone went on a first hike, and you'll learn from others on the hike."

One of Elizabeth's more memorable hikes was the morning hike down from Mount LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park through the previous night's snowfall, breaking trail while the sun glinted off the soft, untouched snow drifts.

Pictured here at Franconia Ridge, New Hampshire. Elizabeth recommends investing in good hiking gear. Cheap hiking shoes left quarter-sized blisters on her feet, and cotton gloves made her fingers whiten to the edge of frostbite when it began to rain.

While hiking on the Appalachian Trail in preparation for her Mexico hike, Elizabeth realized she needed relationships--the generosity and camaraderie of the hiking community enhanced the experience more than she was willing to admit.  Whether or not she ever bags another peak, Elizabeth says day hiking with friends is at her core. Pictured above with day hikers from the Chattanooga Hiking Club about to embark on Max Patch on the Appalachian Trail.

Elizabeth is President of the Chattanooga Hiking Club and most members will agree she is the strongest and fastest hiker in the club. 

 Matanuska Glacier, Alaska. 

We all should have someone who inspires us to be better at whatever passion we are pursuing.  Elizabeth O'Connor inspires me and I hope she has inspired you, too,  so you can "Keep On Hiking."

(Photographs courtesy of Elizabeth O'Connor) 

December 4, 2013

50 Miles on the Cumberland Trail

She's a good old hiker and a good old pal, 50 miles on the ........... 

No, it's not the Erie Canal, but Tennessee's Cumberland Trail.  Having just completed more than 50 miles of section hiking on this trail, I hope today's post will enlighten you on the spectacular Cumberland Trail as well as inspire you to get out and enjoy this beautiful section of the southeastern United States.  

The Cumberland Trail is a remote footpath through east Tennessee and when completed, will pass from Kentucky to Georgia through 11 Tennessee counties on the eastern escarpment of the Cumberland Plateau.  The Cumberland Plateau is the most western portion of the Appalachian mountains and extends from West Virginia to northern AlabamaHere is more information on the Cumberland Plateau.  

Currently, the main trail has 126 open miles with 264 miles planned at completion. Of course, there are other trails which are connecting loops, spurs, and access trails that are considered part of the Cumberland Trail. Here is more information on the Cumberland Trail along with a detailed map, and information on the 14 segments currently open for hiking.

Enough details, let’s get to some photographs: 

My first hiking adventure on the Cumberland Trail was in October 2012.  I hiked with the Chattanooga Hiking Club on Signal Mountain to Mushroom Rock during Chattanooga's River Rocks Festival.  Here is more information on the Chattanooga Hiking Club.  (Photograph courtesy of Don Deakins.)

Included in the October 2012 hike was Edwards Point, a rocky ledge overlooking the beautiful Tennessee River.  Here is a map to the Tennessee River Gorge Segment which includes Mushroom Rock and Edwards Point.  

In December 2012, I hiked a portion of the Three Gorges Segment - Possum Creek Section near Soddy Daisy.  Pictured above is Little Possum Creek.  Here is a map to this section of the trail.  (Photograph courtesy of  Scott Piotrowski of Chattanooga Hiking Meetup.) 

Beautiful Imodium Falls was the destination of the December 2012 hike located on Little Possum Creek. It was an "in and out" hike starting at the Heiss Mountain Road trailhead and totaled 11.2 miles.  This is a lovely but strenuous hike.  (Photograph courtesy of Scott Piotrowski and Chattanooga Hiking Meetup.)

The Laurel-Snow Segment, near Dayton, includes both Laurel and Snow Falls. In January 2013, beautiful Laurel Falls was spilling over the gigantic boulders. Here is link to this segment of the trail. 

The trail to Laurel Falls follows beautiful Richland Creek for 1.5 miles and can be an "in and out" hike. 

The 10.-2 mile Mullens Cove Loop is part of the Tennessee River Gorge Segment which starts in the Prentice Cooper State Forest and Wildlife Management Area.   Pictured above is a view of the Tennessee River from Snooper's Rock in January 2013. 

A very scenic brook in beautiful Mullens Cove Gorge.  (Photograph courtesy of Chattanooga Hiking Meetup.) 

In February 2013, an exploration hike to the Three Gorges Segment - Possum Creek Section started at the Retro Hughes Road trailhead and ended at Heiss Mountain Road which is 9.5 miles.  It was a "shuttle" hike as transportation was needed at both trailheads.  If you're considering a shuttle hike of this segment, I suggest starting at Heiss Mountain and ending at Retro Hughes. 

Being a little more adventurous at the top of Imodium Falls on the exploration hike.

Imodium Falls is definitely the highlight of this segment of the Cumberland Trail.   According to the website, it was named by expert kayakers who wished they had taken some of this popular medicine upon approaching this c-shaped waterfall. (Photograph courtesy of Beth Hemann.) 

White Pine Cascades on the beautiful Piney River Segment near Spring City in February 2013.  Here is a link to the 8.46-mile section of the trail which is rated moderate for hiking.

Another beautiful cascade on Piney River. (Photograph courtesy of Chattanooga Hiking Meetup.) 

Three Gorges Segment - Rock Creek which is north of the Possum Creek Section.  Here is a link to this segment of the trail. 

This section was done as a "shuttle hike" starting from the Retro Hughes trailhead and ending at Upper Leggett Road.  Highlights of this section include Rock Creek, beautiful views of the gorge, and stunning rock formations.

Later, I hiked to Snow Falls on the Laurel-Snow Segment in May 2013.  It is a longer hike than Laurel Falls but well worth the additional mileage and stream crossing.  

The 150-foot bridge over Richland Creek on the way to Snow Falls

The third trip to Imodium Falls in October 2013 was a little disappointing.  Unfortunately, the abundant summer rain didn't last until Fall.  

On top of Brady Mountain on the Grassy Cove Segment in November 2013.  Here is a link to this segment of the trail. 

The Brady Mountain Arch. This section of the trail was done as a shuttle hike from Jewett Road trailhead to Highway 68. 

My fourth trek to the Three Gorges Segment - Possum Creek Section started at Heiss Mountain Road and ended at the Retro Hughes trailhead.  Just north of Imodium Falls on Little Possum Creek, these small cascades were a delightful discovery.  

I love sharing the outdoors with others and led my final trek to Imodium Falls for the Chattanooga Hiking Meetup on a beautiful day in late November.  Here is a link to Chattanooga Hiking Meetup.  

Special thanks to Cumberland Trail volunteer Don Deakins for trail maintenance, leading hikes, answering questions, and providing assistance for anything related to the Cumberland Trail. By the way, Don has a wonderful blog, Cumberland Trail Volunteers, and you can view it here.

In case you're wondering, the Cumberland Trail Conference has a 50-miler award which requires 10 hours of trail maintenance.  I hope to complete that 10 hours of trail maintenance soon so I can "Keep On Hiking."