Wednesday, March 9, 2016

11/52 Walls of Jericho

10/52 hike was trail work here.

On Monday, we went to the AL trailhead to camp out overnight.  Karen and Michael, Melissa, Melanie, her Ben, Kurt, Alex and Emma and me and my Ben all camped!  It was such fun, I LOVE camping out.  I was warm, too.  yay!

Tuesday, Bren came and joined us and we headed to TN to in a couple cars to hike in from that end. We had already decided to go the longer route and see the Mill Creek Blowhole.  Whatever THAT was.

We hiked into the preserve and the weather could not have been better.  I even got some pink cheeks from the sun!

The trail was great, scenic and winding and some long level sections to even out what became a long trek down into the valley.  We took the spur trail to the blowhole, TOTALLY worth it.  Everyone agreed if the entire hike was just for that, it would have been a great one.

Back UP to the trail again, we headed across the ridge and finally into the valley that the box canyon is located off of.  We had some stops to play along the way, refill on water, check feet and so forth.

We arrived at the campsite and had fond memories of last year and our trip.

Hiking to the Walls themselves is ALWAYS a surprise.  hahaha.  I forget how many times the trail goes uphill, it's 5 times.  Or was it 6?  It's not once, like I seem to think.

A group was leaving when we got there, but we had the place to ourselves and really enjoyed hanging out and resting up.  Everyone ate lunch and got plenty of water while we milled around.  Karen and Michael opted to head out early and made their goodbyes.  I wandered off a bit later to take some pictures of the creek below and had just gotten back to the trail when the kids arrived, so we walked together to the campsite and waited for Ben, Kurt, Bren and Melanie who were just barely behind us.
We got to the creek and Melissa was enjoying the view while she waited for us.  We all took off going up and up and up and finally after 2 miles (okay...1/4 mile) I pulled over to rest.  The teens and Kurt and Melissa shot up the trail, Kurt has this 'thing' about not stopping.  Bully for Kurt. Haha!

Melanie, Bren, young Ben and I dallied.  It was a relaxed hike out, I did not feel stressed or like I was doing badly even once.  We stopped to look at things, stopped to get my bandanna wet, stopped when the trail got to our tired legs.  I was more willing to go than my legs were, they finally started burning and when I'd stop, they'd feel fine.  3 steps later, owie!  Melanie said the trail made her want to cuss and primal scream.  hahaha!  It was just unrelenting, it's a climb!

We were about half a mile from the top, probably less, when the sun finally went down and we dug out headlamps.  Mine made it to the parking lot!  Kurt had already gone to the TN trailhead with Melissa, gotten his car and come back and mobilized the teens to get lights together to come search for us!  We were 300 feet down the trail, so it was an anticlimactic rescue, but nice to have the company!

And, that was the first campout of the year.  Again, Again!

The campsite at the AL trailhead is a short walk from the parking area, around a big field.
It has a gorgeous view of the setting sun!

We all got settled in and had our various dinners, Kurt and his kids showed up well after dark and started setting up their tent.  I took photos of the progress as we all fully expected amusing hijinks and zany fun to follow as they wrestled tent in the dark, but they just put it up and nothing exciting happened at all


The kids scoured for sticks to play Trenga, my recently (just then) patented camp game in which a forked branch is wedged onto a tree and more branches are piled around and around until it falls.  When that happens, just keep adding sticks until it's very tall.


Inside my REI Half Dome tent.  In case you forget it's from REI, it's printed on the rain fly in two places in huge letters.
I bought it used for 1/3 the going in store price from a woman looking  to unload some gear in a hurry.

Breakfast in bed!

I totally missed Michael and Karen's BA Scout on the far left!

The stick art.  I mean Trenga© 


Ben sweeps the tent

We were at the TN trailhead by 9:15!  I did not have a watch and my camera lied about both the time and the date no matter how often I reset both, so I left it alone and spent the rest of the day not knowing what time it was.  

Note to self.  That hat is NOT at a 'jaunty' angle.
We are at an overlook, see the view?


I love karst topography!

This black cup shaped fungus is called 'black cup fungus'
I can't believe I had to look that up!

we all took a photo of this sign because it sounds so dangerous

Emma going over the edge!  .2 miles, but a hearty climb when it's all uphill on the way out!

The blowhole! It was amazing!

Some kind of thistle?


The blowhole some more.  It was loud and commanded attention!
The stream below was smooth and swayed back and forth in the narrow slot canyon.  It looked like THE most amazing waterslide ever made

Back up on the ridge, we hiked along a while longer, enjoying the views quite a bit

I had eaten chocolate and the combo of caffeine and sugar made me high.  I was SO LOUD and SO EXCITED.  I stepped right into a hole just off the trail under a rock and freaked out (snakes I can't see scare me a little) I was yelling about how pretty it all was, the weather was so great, the wildflowers were amazing (all 4 types of them) and so on. I finally realized what was going on and yelled my apologies to everyone I was hiking near.  

Some said turtle, others and eagle and one, a dragon.  I say...Muppet




don't know yet!

Caddisfly casing

Hurricane Creek

Virginia Bluebell!

Crossing Hurricane Creek.  Or is it Turkey Creek here?  I need a map!

Ben and Emma checking out the cemetery

Trout lily!

The TOTALLY flat other than one hill trail to the Walls

At the Limestone Cathedral:

Alex wondered if we could plug the hole where the water was coming out and make it come out the holes above, along the canyon wall.  Emma explained how that was not possible and we listened, then as soon as she was gone, set out to plan how we could plug the hole where the water was coming out.

My new hiking skirt!  It shows more leg than I usually do!  It was comfy to hike in, though!
Also, this is a forced perspective photo.  My feet are not nearly that tiny.

There was a waterfall this time!

The UV light refused to clean my water, so I changed batteries.  Luckily, the top works to loosen the screw!  Turns out, the battery was fine, the water itself was too cold!  We had to let it warm up some and then treat it!

Emma having a Zen moment

My slightly more attractive leg (in that it's less banged up) modeling my liner socks. No blisters!

I thought this was a king sized mattress someone had thrown in the creek!

See the little cluster of hepatica at the left of the trail?

Mighty teeny champion tree.  I need to look this up and see what happened!


Me, before The Climb

Resting up before the climb!

Awesome trip!  It got dark on the way out, so I did not take any photos.  Plus, it was hard walking and my camera is really heavy at nearly 7 ounces. ha!

Speaking of 7 ounces, that's how much the bag of gummies I lugged around ALL DAY weighed and I didn't find them until this afternoon when I cleaned out my pack and THEN Ben ate them!   ACK

About Me

Unschooling mama from the start with 2014, 2016 and 2018 graduation dates. I enjoy camping, reading, swimming, hiking and photography.