Showing posts with label HIKING. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HIKING. Show all posts

Friday, December 01, 2023

House Mountain Hike #186, 11-29-2023: Thankful for Family Heritage (published 12-1-2023; article #443)


Greetings, to fellow hikers and to all, who are thankful for family heritage! My 186th hike, on House Mountain, was last Wednesday. This brief preface mentions yesterday's “life, such as it is,” situation. All, eventually, will be well.

Late yesterday morning, Mike, Mrs. Appalachian Irishman's good first cousin, had arthroscopic surgery. Thankfully, the surgery went well, and Mike was discharged from the hospital, to his home, today. Thanks, Lord, for caring for Mike! I had planned to join my sister-in-law, who'd taken Mike to the hospital. The plan was for both of us to await the results, in the surgery waiting room. My plan to be there was forestalled.

Earlier yesterday morning, before my planned departure to the hospital, two large, dalmatian dogs invaded our property. The illegal invasion occurred, while I was talking by phone, with my sister-in-law, who was with Mike, at the hospital. One of the dogs attacked Molly, before I could stop it! Molly stood her ground and fought back. The aggressor dog nipped Molly, on her left ear, which bled. It's a puncture wound. In time, two neighbors (who have the same first name of Chuck) and I handled and secured the two invading dogs. I treated Molly's ear with peroxide and an antibiotic cream, which helped stop the bleeding and cleansed the wound. Thankfully, Molly is back to her usually playful personality. Later, a neighbor told me that a man, in a red pickup, got his two dalmatians. The neighbor didn't get the man's name. My plan is to drive around, looking for a house, with two dalmatians and a red pickup, in the yard! I want to give that man a righteously indignant, but sufficiently polite, piece of my mind! Yes, my Irish dander is still up!


Now that the “life, such as it is,” preface is behind us, let's move on, to enjoy our House Mountain hike, on Wednesday! How many times have you hiked along with me, by reading my articles about previous hikes? I've lost count.

This article takes you along, on another virtual hike. The next section is about the hike, with three photographs. Afterwards, the video that I recorded, on the west bluff, is about family heritage. Before the conclusion, I coin the phrase Hiking Wednesday! The conclusion ends, with the purchase of a gallon of milk!

Come on. Let's hike!

The 11/29/2023 Hike (with three photographs)

I wish that we'd not started so late. The time is 2:18 PM, when I tap the marker, near the covered picnic area. The morning low was 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The sky is a crisp blue and sunny. The wind is blowing, in gusts, at times. (That means rain, in a day or two.) The temperature is about 45 degrees. The T-shirt and long sleeve shirt are sufficient. Who needs a light jacket? Not me!

As we hike up the west trail, my usual route, we keep thinking about turning around, at one of the four lower or six upper switchbacks, to hike back out. I need to get a gallon of milk, before returning home, after all. Jesus' words, in Luke 9:62, come to mind: “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (NIV). In other words, we started this hike, to get to the west bluff. We have time. Don't look back. Let's finish what we started!

We meet Maurice and Angela, again! (They are hiking down, on the same west trail that we are hiking up.) The article of 10/26/2023 mentions that fine couple, in high regard. We won't reach the west bluff, in a good time now. That doesn't matter. We had several minutes of enjoyable conversation, with Maurice and Angela! I hope that we can keep in touch.

At 3:06 PM, we finally reach the west bluff The hike up and across was easy enough. We must have talked about 18 minutes, with Maurice and Angela. It took 48 minutes to reach the bluff. We made it in 30 minutes, on our last hike, on 11/16/2023 (as mentioned in the 11/19/2023 article).

I took the following photograph, at 3:09 PM. The view looks west.

Minutes ago, we had just climbed up that rocky area, to the right (or north) of the rock outcropping.

A minute later, I took the following photograph. I'm standing at the same spot, but I turned, to face northeast.

Caves and underground water must be beneath the mountain. The indications are all the rock protrusions. Also, I know where underground streams come out, on certain areas, on the two main trails that lead up (or down).

Thanks for your patience, while I record the video, which I started at 3:12 PM. (The video is in the next section, below.) About 3:25 PM, we are starting our careful hike back down the same west trail, up which we'd hiked. Why is my cell phone ringing? Once we're standing in a flat area, just below the west bluff, I see that Mrs. Appalachian Irishman had called. I call her back, two minutes after she'd called. Well, she's on her way home, from work.

Let's make tracks! I still need to buy a gallon of milk, on the way home. Pausing, at 3:42 PM, I take the next photograph.

I see my shadow. Where is yours? We're hiking east, just under the ridgeline. The sun is behind us. Rock outcroppings are all around. As we continue, using hands and feet, we edge our way down what I call the near vertical rock formations.

Before we reach the first switchback, going down, we met and conversed with Seth, a young man. (We'd met an older man and him, on 5/4/2023, as mentioned, but not by name, in the 5/5/2023 article. Back then, Seth saw a tick on my cap.) That fine conversation will delay our hike back out. It doesn't matter. Seth seems to be a fine young Christian. I hope that he stays on the right trail in life.

As we are almost out, we meet a young man, hiking in. He has a very good camera with him. As we chat briefly, he knows that the sun will set, in about an hour. We're glad that he has a headlamp, to guide him, on his hike out, in the darkness. It reminds us of Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (NIV).

At 4:39 PM, I touch the marker, near the picnic area. Two hours and twenty-one minutes in the woods is better than not having been there!

The 11/29/2023 Podcast Episode (on the West Bluff)

This section presents, on Appalachian Irishman - Podcasts (YouTube), my recorded comments, on the west bluff. The episode is: “House Mountain Hike 186, 11-29-2023: Thankful for Family Heritage (published 12-1-2023; episode 24).” I started recording, at 3:12 PM. I spoke three minutes and forty-four seconds. The description corrects three verbal errors. The brisk and cool wind, which the recording picks up, must have caused my mental stumbles!

I speak, in honor of family heritage. My Mom (Betty Lou Wood Ferrell) was born on 11/24/1932. This year, the 24th was the day after Thanksgiving. Papaw Marion Ferrell got the marriage license, on 11/24/1908. Granny and Papaw Ferrell were married, the next day, on 11/25/1908. Granny Ferrell was fifteen, turning sixteen, on 11/30/1908. The article of 11/30/2022 has a more complete mention of Granny and Papaw Ferrell.

I am thankful for the godly heritage, on both sides of my family. Are you building a godly family heritage? I hope so!

Hiking Wednesday!

Who started Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Sofa Sunday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, and Weeping Wednesday? I smell marketing gimmicks!

What little online research that I did indicates that Black Friday started, in 1869, when two investors caused a market crash of 20%. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, changed the meaning of Black Friday, to mean tourism and shopping. In the late 1980s, Black Friday became widely known as the frenzied shopping day, after Thanksgiving. It's called Black Friday, not Red Friday, since accountants use red ink for financial losses and black ink for financial gains. American Express started Small Business Saturday, in 2010. Apparently, Sofa Sunday was coined by someone. Years ago, when I first heard it, I thought that it meant to buy a sofa (or couch, as folks in Appalachia call it) on Sunday! Well, I figured out quickly that I was wrong. Sofa Sunday means that folks rest at home, in their pajamas, and do some online shopping. It's like Cyber Monday light, as I reckon. I hope that folks don't stay home, from church, on Sofa Sunday! The National Retail Federation (whatever that is) started Cyber Monday, in 2005. The 92nd Street Y (what and where ever that is) and the United Nations Foundation started Giving Tuesday, in 2012. Those folks wanted to counter the crass commercialization and consumerism of the Thanksgiving season. Weeping Wednesday was coined, for the day that a person realizes how much he or she had spent, in the last seven days!

Near the end of the video recording, I decree that the Wednesday after Thanksgiving is Hiking Wednesday -- not Weeping Wednesday! Henceforth, if you hear anyone talking about Weeping Wednesday, please correct them! It's Hiking Wednesday!


Thanks, fellow hiker, for hiking along virtually with me again! I'll see you later. I've got to get to the convenience store, which used to be called House Mountain Market, to buy a gallon of milk! My 2006 Frontier didn't want me to pause, to photograph him, this time! He knows that I'm in a hurry!

Mrs. Appalachian Irishman was already home, when I arrived. Handing her the gallon of milk, at the door, I went back to my truck, to get my canteen and cap. Once I was inside, she never did ask where I'd been, when we had talked by phone. It's our little secret! We were coming down the trail, not far from the middle bluff! Don't tell her!

Sunday, November 19, 2023

House Mountain: 3 Hikes in 3 Days! (published 11-19-2023; article #442)


Howdy, fellow hikers! Would you like to hike along with me? You are welcome to join me, virtually, on three hikes, in three days, on House Mountain! (The 3/19/2006 article calls it My Mountain!) I've been hiking My Mountain, with dedication, since the fall of 2003. This year marks 20 years of hiking House Mountain. I'll be your trail guide. Let's hike!

This article is the 56th entry, under the "hiking” topic section, and the 14th, under the "pets” topic section. Yes, Molly, our ol' puppy, hiked, on the first hike!

As we fill our canteens with water and put on our hiking shoes, I'll review other hikes, in three or four days. Thirteen years ago, during the last four days of October, 2010, I'd hiked a different location every day. Those hikes are in the article, Four Hikes in Four Days! (published 11-14-2010).”

Looking through my hiking log, I realized that I'd hiked House Mountain two days in a row, on three occasions. The first was on October 4th and 5th, 2011, a Tuesday and Wednesday. I didn't publish an article about those hikes, but I took two photographs, on 10/5/2011. The next was on October 17th and 18th, 2015, a Saturday and Sunday. I didn't publish any articles, in 2015. My youngest brother and his family hiked with me, on 10/17/2015. I took two photographs of them, on the upper middle bluff. I'd hiked alone, the next day, when I photographed my old 1995 Nissan truck. The third was on December 7th and 8th, 2019, Pearl Harbor Day and Sunday. Those hikes are mentioned, in the article of 12/13/2019.

Canteens are full of water. Hiking shoes are on. Let's hike House Mountain, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday! Before the conclusion, my embedded hiking theology podcast -- on Thursday, at the middle bluff -- encourages everyone not to accept evolutionary hogwash!

Hike #183 (11/14/2023): Molly's Hike #8!

Publisher's note: our first hike is on Tuesday, 11/14/2023. The weather is warm, too warm, and sunny. It's my 183rd hike on House Mountain. Molly, at age eight, wants to hike with us! It's Molly's eighth hike on House Mountain. If you recall, Molly's first article is titled “A Dog's Perspective, on Her Birthday (published 10-31-2023; article #439).” In it, Molly mentions her first seven hikes. Molly, you have the keyboard now! Tell us about your eighth hike! (I took the four photographs, which I'll mention.)

Molly's comments: Woof, woof, and tail waggy, y'all! My front paws are typing again! Today, the man had my carrier, in the truck bed. The tailgate was down! I jumped up and placed my front paws, on the tailgate. The man knew that I wanted to hike with him!

I enjoyed the brief ride, to the mountain. Once we got there, the man let me out, and I jumped to the ground. I remembered the area. It had been a while. (The man told me that my seventh hike was on 3/17/2019, St. Patrick's Day.) The man had put my hiking clothes on me, and he had the leash clipped to my clothes, but he told me that I could lead!

Sniffers! Wow! I smell where many other animals have been! Can't you smell all this, man? Okay, I want to go up the east trail! The man said that it was 2:15 PM, when I started leading him.

I still remember. When the man says “whoa, Molly,” I know to stop or slow down. His right knee and foot are damaged, so he can't keep up with me, like he used to do. I want to go all the way up the mountain, to the ridge, but the man doesn't think that he can keep up with me, on the more steep and rugged upper trail. I think that I'll stop, at the first switchback.

Publisher's notes: I took the photograph, below, at 3:00 PM, on the dot. We have been pausing several times, so Molly could do her sniffing. Molly is looking northwest. She is thirsty. I pour water, from my canteen, into the small container, which I have tied to my belt. Molly is glad to have a drink of water! Aren't you glad, fellow hiker, that you brought your canteen?

Seconds later, I took the next photograph. Molly sees something, to our south (or right)!

Three minutes later, I photographed what Molly, you, and I are seeing! Molly continues typing, after the image.

What is that? It's some kind of bird. I've seen them before, but not this close! It's having a staring contest with me! Watch me win! I won! The bird flew off! The man calls it an owl.

The man says, “Let's go, Molly!” I'll lead us back down the way that we came. I see two human females and a dog! Come on, man! Keep up with me! I want to meet that dog! Sniff, sniff! I like that dog and the two humans! Why is that dog carrying a big stick in his mouth? That's funny! I don't want to carry a stick in my mouth, while I'm hiking, but that dog does!

Well, here we are, back at the spot, where I can turn left and go back to the truck or turn right, to go up the west trail. I look at the man. He says, “it's your choice!”

Okay, here we go, up the west trail! Sniff, sniff! Wow! I smell the scent of may dogs! Wait! What's that? I see and hear squirrels -- two of them! Oops! I forgot about the leash. I can't chase after the squirrels! That's okay, man. In my excitement, I might chase them so far that I'd not remember how to get back to you. I don't want to get lost!

I'm thirsty again. Where's water? Oh, there it is!

Publisher's note: I took the photograph, below, at 3:35 PM. It's just below the first lower switchback, on the west trail. An underground stream is still trickling out enough water, in this area, thankfully. Molly has a drink of fresh, underground water!

That's good water! It's better than the man's water that he shares with me!

The man says, again, “Let's go, Molly!” I'm ready to go back to my house. I'll lead us back to his truck. The man said that is was 3:52 PM and that “an hour and 42 minutes in the woods is better than not having been there.” I agree. The ride to my home cooled me off.

Thanks, man, for hiking with me today! Who was that other person, who hiked with us? Oh, is that the one, who is reading what I am typing?

Hike #184 (11/15/2023): Loop Trails

Thanks, Molly, for writing about our hike yesterday! Do you want to go again, today? I'd left the dog carrier in my truck bed. Today, Wednesday, I dropped the tailgate and called for Molly. She is in the “back forty,” as I call the back yard. She wants to play and get petted a while. Molly, however, isn't interested in hiking with us today. I give her a snack.

The weather is still too warm. The morning clouds had broken, and the sun is shining, but we see clouds, rolling in from the southwest. Let's hike House Mountain, even if rain could be coming! We need the rain.

As I touch the marker, behind the parking lot and picnic area, the time is 2:05 PM. The clouds had rolled in, as we were riding to the parking lot. It's completely cloudy now. Since it's later in the afternoon and looks like rain, let's just hike these lower loop trails.

At 2:14 PM, I pause, to take the photograph, below. It's the sign, farthest along the entrance trail, to the west loop trail. We'd already hiked that short and easy loop. I had to go back, to take the photograph!

Let's head east, to hike the slightly more challenging east loop trail! I need more exercise. Don't you? We start off to the north (our left) and hike up the trail. We are noticing the usual markers that indicate the type of trees that we are seeing. Interestingly, some of those trees have fallen, but their markers are still there!

We hike all the way east, to the lower parking lot. Let's hike back, along the lower (or south) side of the loop now. Aren't the leaves pleasant to see, as we crunch along in them? I enjoy hikes in the fall. The foliage is down. The poison oak and ivy are gone. Ticks aren't around. The views are better. I like seeing all the leaves on the ground.

Thanks for pausing, so that I can take the following photograph. The time is 2:48 PM.

The sign points to where we have just hiked, on that east loop trail. The west loop trail, which we'd hiked first, is just behind the fancy outhouse and picnic area, in the image.

Seconds later, I turn, to photograph my 2006 Frontier. He likes to have his picture taken!

A few other vehicles are in the parking lot, but we didn't meet an other hikers. Well, as we were leaving, we did converse with the lady and her dog, in the parking lot. Molly would have liked that dog.

Let's say that our hike ended, at 2:50 PM. That was only forty-five minutes in the woods, just on those loop trails. Any day, even if only a few minutes, in the woods is better than not!

It never did rain. The clouds are not dark enough for rain. We need rain! I'll take us back to the house, but let's first run an errand, to the Tractor Supply. I need to buy Molly some food and snacks. What do you know! A handful of rain drops hit the windshield, as we are heading to the Tractor Supply. That's all? A few drops of rain are better than none.

Hike #185 (11/16/2023): All Trails & Bluffs!

Well, howdy, again, fellow hiker! It's Thursday now. Are you ready for another hike on House Mountain? I thought so. Molly sees the carrier, still in my truck bed, and the tailgate down. Do you want to hike with us, Molly? She doesn't jump her front paws, onto the tailgate. She'd rather play in the front yard and get a snack. Okay, Molly, after we do that, then my hiking buddy and I are going hiking. Are you sure that you don't want to come along? Apparently, the answer is no, not today.

I hope, fellow hiker, that your hiking shoes are cinched up tightly! This is going to be a real hiking workout! Let's go! The weather is back to warm and sunny.

I note that the time is 1:12 PM, as we begin our hike. We're going up the west trail. Just as we start, we meet a young man, hiking out alone. He complains that he wore the wrong pair of shoes. We notice that his shoes look good enough. I told him that I hope that he doesn't get blisters.

The four lower switchbacks are easy enough. We're kicking up trail dust, due to the drought. I comment on several areas that are usually damp or muddy, depending on the rainfall. Those are all bone dry. We are only pausing, a few seconds at a time, to sip water from our canteens.

The challenge is on! The six upper switchbacks await us. Let's continue up! I'm glad that you are keeping up with me! My “bionic” right foot and knee are still slowing me down, but not too much. How quickly will we get to the west bluff?

Wiping off brow sweat along the way, we are at the sixth and final upper switchback! The time is 1:37 PM. It took us only 25 minutes to get here. I'd rather be at the west bluff, in 25 minutes, but we still have to hike father west, below the ridgeline, to get there.

We made it! The time is 1:42 PM. Thirty minutes, from the parking lot, to the west bluff is good enough, for this “bionic” hiker. If my foot and knee didn't cause me to be a lame mountain goat, then we could have made it in 25 minutes easily.

After enjoying the view a while and cooling off, I'm taking the photograph, below, at 1:58 PM.

The west bluff is behind me. That's my shadow. We're looking east, along the ridgeline. The two signs point directions and distances. The sign on the left directs down the west trail, up which we'd hiked. The sign to the right directs east, along the ridge trail. That's where we're going.

We get off the trail, slightly, so that I can take the following photograph. The time is 2:16 PM.

The view looks east. Do you see why I call the “dinosaur rock?” I thought so. I see the head, left eye, and the snout.

Hiking farther east, we pause, for the following photograph. It's now 2:23 PM.

I've photographed the “picnic rock” several times. It looks like a fine place for a picnic! Oh, yes, I'll mention the young couple, whom we meet. They came from behind us. I tell them the name of this rock, and they seem to agree. The are slower than us, so we hike on ahead of them.

We think about hiking to the foundation, where the fire tower used to be, just above the old two-seater outhouse, but we don't. We are getting close to the trailhead, for the east trail.

At 2:32 PM, as we approach that trailhead, I take the following photograph.

The bench and the two signs provide rest and instruction, to hikers, who need them. Of course, I know the trails quite well. The view looks east.

Two minutes later, I take the following photograph, with the view looking north.

The crisp blue sky is inspiring. The fallen leaves are nice to see. We wish that the temperature were cooler.

Let's hike about five minutes, farther east, to the upper middle bluff! We see blue, so someone is at the bluff. Yes, a lady, wearing a blue shirt, somewhat younger than me, is there. We converse for quite a while, about the forest fires, in areas around us. Thankfully, they are being managed and put out. We notice the smoke, far off, to the northeast of us. It looks like a fire, in or near Maynardville, in Union County.

We can return to the middle bluff, on our hike out and down. For now, let's hike to the east bluff!

Well, that was easy enough. I like the trail. Step carefully, however! A wrong step could result in a deadly fall, down into the ravine, to our north! Having arrived at the east bluff, I take the following photograph, at 3:21 PM. The view looks southeast.

Far off in the distance are the Smoky Mountains. The haze must be from the forest fires that are burning far away from us.

Two minutes later, as we are starting our hike back out and down, I pause, to take the following photograph. The view is northwest.

This must be a new sign. The posts are still seasoning. It indicates the ridgeline trail distance back to the west bluff. I'd rather call it the ridgeline trail, instead of the crest trail.

Will you remember how I taught you to tell time, by the location of the sun? I hope so. If the sun is to the west, hold your right arm straight up, fingers extended. Don't bend your elbow. That marks 12 PM. Twist your wrist inward, so that your hand is horizontal to the ground. Keep your thumb by your index finger. Your thumb should be the closest finger to the ground. With arm still fully extended, move your hand down, one hand width, thumb to pinkie, at a time. Count each hand width, until your hand covers the sun or the sun is just below your hand. Each hand width is 30 minutes. If the sun is behind your hand, then that's about 15 minutes. If the sun is just below your hand, then that's a full 30 minutes. Total up the minutes that you counted and figure the time, after 12 PM. When I did it, I guessed 3:30 PM. My watch showed the time to be 3:32 PM.

You can use the same technique, to know when the sun will set. Advance your hand width, from just below where the sun is, to where the sky meets the ground. Count the minutes. You can approximate how much more daylight is left.

Hiking Theology Podcast (11/16/2023): Evolutionary Hogwash

We are back on the upper middle bluff again! This time, no one else is here. At about 3:35 PM, we are enjoying the panoramic view! The setting sun is casting long shadows. Daylight will fade to dusk, in a couple of hours or so. The following photograph is a glimpse of the inspiring scenery.

The smoke, in the distance, is from the Satterfield Road fire, in Union County. (That evening, I learned that the fire had been put out.)

I hadn't planned to record a video, on this hike. As we are observing the magnificent views, even with the smoke-filled haze, I am inspired to record the following video. It will be on Appalachian Irishman - Podcasts, my YouTube channel.

The episode -- the first in the “Hiking Theology” section -- is: House Mt. Hiking Theology, on 11-16-2023: Evolutionary Hogwash (published 11-19-2023; episode 23). In just over six minutes, I reason that the unproven theory of macroevolution is hogwash. That's my brief sermon, for the day.

There is more “evidence” that Дед Мороз (in Russian, or Father Frost, in English) exists! Macroevolution wants us to believe -- irrationally, without proof -- that absolute nothingness exploded and creating a very dense something, about the size of an acorn. Over eons, that something from nothing expanded, into the known complexity of the universe. During eons, galaxies, solar systems, planets, and moons formed. Over further eons, non-life evolved, somehow, into life. Over uncountable eons, that life, somehow, evolved upward. You and I, as the fake theory claims, evolved from nothing, which became lifeless matter, which became life -- somehow. It's hogwash!

Genesis 1:1, in the NIV, states: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The article of 11/16/2022, the third in the ongoing “Christian Evidences” series, contains the complete teleological argument, for the existence of God. That is rational faith, based on solid evidence.

It's getting late, so we'd better hike out and down the east trail, to the parking lot! We manage the first switchback, which I call “treacherous.” We are continuing, carefully, down, until we reach the final, or seventh from the top, switchback. That was a little easier than it used to be, for me.

At 5 PM, on the dot, I call Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, to tell her that I'll be a little late, coming home. That marks the conclusion of our hike.

Our total time, in the woods, was three hours and 48 minutes! Now, that's what I call a good day in the woods!


Thank you, fellow hiker, for hiking House Mountain with me, for three days last week. Are you stiff and sore? My “bionic” right foot talked to me, last Friday, but it returned quickly to its “bionic” normal. I'm publishing this article on Sunday afternoon. Looking out my home office windows, the sky is mostly clear and blue. I see the trees, on the ridge to our north. Leaves are scattered about. The woods are calling me, but I know that the parking lot, at House Mountain, will be full. Many hikers are enjoying the trails. Hiking during the week days is better, since fewer cars and hikers are around.

The anniversary of Papaw Ferrell's passing, in 1970, is Tuesday. Thursday is Thanksgiving. Friday marks my Mom's birthday, in 1932. Mom would be 91, if she were still with us. Depending on the weather, this Appalachian Irishman may hike My Mountain this week.

We did get light rain that started last Friday evening and continued through the night. Yesterday, the mostly sunny weather returned. We need more rain, dear Lord! I'd rather have rain this week, instead of hiking. I can't believe that I just wrote that!

Y'all enjoy Thanksgiving and the true reasons for the day! I'm signing off, for now. May God bless you, as you follow His will!

Thursday, October 26, 2023

House Mountain Hike #182, 10-25-2023: Conversation with Mike (published 10-26-2023; article #438)


In the article of 10/22/2023, I'd stated, “. . . the crisp, blue autumn sky was calling me into the woods, for another hike!” Yesterday, I answered that call!

Welcome, dear reader, to the the 55th article, under the “hiking” topic section! Yesterday, I hiked “My Mountain,” House Mountain, for the 182nd time! The last hike was on “May the 4th be with you,” as documented in my article and podcast, on 5/5/2023.

Please enjoy a virtual reality hike along with me! We'll hike up the west trail, reach the west bluff, then hike to the middle bluff. Please pause, with me, while I converse with Mike and offer a prayer, at the middle bluff. Then, let's hike back across and down, the same way that we'd hiked up. Thank you for joining me, in this virtual hike!

Hiking Up the West Trail & Across to the Middle Bluff (Two Photographs)

The weather is seasonably warm and sunny. A light breeze brings nature's air conditioning, to our sweaty skin. At 12:54 PM, we touch the marker, to begin our hike, up the west trail, as usual.

Since it's so dry, without much rain lately, we're gathering trail dust, instead of mud, on our hiking shoes. The usual damp or muddy areas are dusty. We are hiking up and past the four lower switchbacks, without getting winded at all. We are noticing the new trail signs, which indicate the distance hiked and the distance left to hike.

As we continue up, toward the first of the six upper switchbacks, we notice the large tree that had fallen. We check our watches. Fourteen minutes have passed, so far. We continue hiking upward. How many hikers passed us, on their way down? I remember three. Each was wearing short pants. Conversing briefly, with each person, I remarked that I wish that I'd worn short pants. The brush, poison ivy, and poison oak are far less noticeable, now that fall has arrived.

We only pause a few seconds, at times, to drink water from our canteens. It never did feel like my heart rate was increasing much. We never needed to stop, to catch our breaths. Our tickers are still in good shape, apparently.

So, why did it take us 40 minutes, to reach the west bluff? As a “lame mountain goat,” my cautiousness wasn't slowing us down that much! Perhaps it was that big black snake, which I almost touched, when I had leaned into the mountain, to touch a rock, for balance. That was after we'd passed the final switchback and were hiking west, just below the ridgeline. The snake was blending in so well, with the surroundings, that I didn't see it, until it began slithering away from us! I'm glad that it wasn't a rattlesnake or a copperhead!

Well, here we are, on the west bluff! The time is now 1:34 PM. No one else is around. The pine beetles are not too bad, but they are a little pesky.

At 1:48 PM, I am taking the following photograph, from the west bluff. It faces southwest, toward Knoxville. The fall colors are almost at peak. The colors are not as brilliant, since we've not had much rain this fall. They are still beautiful!

A minute later, I'm taking the next photograph, standing at the same spot, but looking east, toward the ridge trail. Let's hike east, along that trail, to get to the middle bluff, shall we?

Conversation with Mike & Prayer, at the Middle Bluff (Two Photographs & Podcast)

We are enjoying the scenery, as we hike east, along the gentle rises and declines, on the ridgeline. The smell of pine and cedar, through which we had passed, was refreshing! Let's pause a moment, at the first bluff. It's lower, and the rock face isn't as large. That's still a good view! I decide not to take a photograph, since I've taken many, over the years.


Hiking along a bit farther east and up, we reach the upper middle bluff! The view, as always, is spectacular! I'll pause, to take the following photograph. The time is 2:30 PM, on the dot.

The view looks west, slightly northwest. The large rock outcropping is around us. We can see about where we had been, back at that west bluff.

In the short story of 8/5/2023 -- about our Charleston, Missouri, family reunion, the previous month -- I wrote to and promised the following, to Mike, my deceased brother-in-law.

. . . your wife gave me your “Delta Saloon, Suicide Table” cap! I've been wearing it. I look forward to taking a better self photograph, while wearing it, on a House Mountain hike! I'll be talking with you, once it's cooler, from the middle bluff of “My Mountain!”

Thank you, fellow hiker, for being silent, while I record the following podcast. It's a minute later now, at 2:31 PM. I'd promised Mike that I'd wear his cap, on House Mountain. I am keeping that promise.

Howdy, Mike! I know that you're just kidding me, when you ask, “Where's the self photograph that you promised?” The image of me, wearing your cap, is in the recording! Okay, okay, I know. I promised a photograph. It's next, before our recorded conversation!

Yes, Mike, I heard you! You asked, as if you didn't know, “Who is that gray-bearded old man?” Do you think that I'd ever paint my hair back to black? I won't even putty in the wrinkles! Now, let's record our conversation!


Appalachian Irishman - Podcasts (YouTube) now presents “House Mountain Hike 182, 10-25-2023: Conversation with Mike (published 10-26-2023; episode 22)!” It's almost five minutes in length. It ends with my prayer to the Good Lord.

Mike's “Delta Saloon, Suicide Table” cap is on my head! I even remove it, to hold it out for better viewing. The saloon is in Virginia City, Nevada. I'd like to visit Nevada or Colorado, one of these days.

Well, now that I've fulfilled my promise to Mike, let's head out, shall we? I don't want to go down the east trail, since that top switchback is so treacherous. Let's just hike back, the way that we hiked in. Thanks for understanding.

Hiking Back Down the Way We'd Hiked Up (Two Photographs)

The time is now 2:45 PM, as we head back west, along the ridgeline. Let's pause. I'll take the next photograph, at 3:22 PM.

Ah, yes! The view, looking west, is beautiful! The smell of cedar and pine is in this area. We're almost back to the west bluff.

Well, didn't you enjoy the brief conversations with the few hikers, whom we me, as they were hiking up? Two couples stand out. Just as we left the west bluff, at 3:30 PM, the black woman and white man were pleasant. She did most of the talking. Farther down, still on the ridgeline, near the “defiant tree,” as I call it, we had a very pleasant and spiritual conversation, with our brother and sister in Christ! He's a black man, and she's his white wife. I'll remember their names, Maurice and Angela. We'd remembered meeting, a year or two ago, on a House Mountain hike. They are an outstanding, Christian husband and wife! I hope that we meet them again. Racial divisions do not exist, if we are one in Christ! I wish that this divided world could understand that.

My “bionic” right knee and right foot are not “talking” too me too much. That's good. Slow improvement still comes, day by day. The hike down, however, still takes longer. Thank you for your patience, fellow hiker.

Let's pause, at 4:29 PM, to take the next photograph. We're almost back to the parking lot now.

We're heading east, not too far from the parking lot. I may not have taken a photograph of the new bridge. It's been up a few years now. The old bridge was still good, but it had several weak and damaged boards.


Where's my ol' truck? He'd been the eleventh vehicle in the parking lot, when we arrived. There's fifteen vehicles here now!

There he is! He's guarding the sign, at the entrance to the parking lot! What time is it? It's 4:37 PM! Really? Our time together, in the woods, was three hours and 42 minutes!

We've got to go! I'd promised Mrs. Appalachian Irishman that I'd buy her some more of those pills, which she takes to keep her bones strong. Let's hurry up and go!

By the way, thanks for hiking with me again! As I've said many times, “any day in the woods is better than not!”

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Cove Lake State Park: 10-10-2023 Hike (published 10-12-2023; article #434)


Greetings, dear reader! Thanks for stopping by! Yesterday, the weather was warm and cloudy. We didn't get the much needed rain, which I'd hoped that the clouds would bring. Perhaps the temperature will drop, to more seasonable highs, in a few days.

Two days ago, on 10/10/2023, Tuesday, however, the weather was warm, mostly sunny, and a little windy. Cove Lake State Park had been calling me, since the day after I'd hiked Seven Islands State Park. (That hike is highlighted, in both the article and podcast, of 9/24/2023.) Mrs. Appalachian Irishman -- enjoying her fall break week -- decided to accompany me! She is even featured in the embedded podcast! I don't think that my wife will get in three hikes, during her fall break week. We will see. I've suggested it.

This was the first time, to hike at Cove Lake State Park (Tennessee State Parks, Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation). It's about as far from the house (driving northwest) as Panther Creek State Park is (driving southeast). Lord willing, Cove Lake will call us, or at least me, again soon!

This 54th article, under the “hiking” topic section mentions the park and the trail map, describes our hike (with six photographs), and includes the podcast, featuring Mrs. Appalachian Irishman! We enjoyed a good meal, which I'll mention, just before the conclusion.

The Park & Trail Map

The Cove Lake State Park website describes the park as follows.

Cove Lake’s 606 acres are situated in a beautiful mountain valley on the eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau. Scenic nature trails lead through a diversity of wetlands and woodlands offering wildlife viewing for the nature enthusiast. A paved walking/bike trail provides easy access to all park facilities. Visitors can spend the day fishing or simply sitting back and capturing the picturesque vista Cove Lake offers.

My 2006 Frontier got us to the visitor center, at 11:32 AM. I conversed with a park ranger, about the various trails. The “Printable Trail Map,” below, once enlarged to 200%, is readable in my web browser.

Our Hike, with Four Photographs

My “bionic” right foot did not want to pound the easy and “civilized” 3.5 mile “Paved Trail.” I thought that the 1.55 mile “Volunteer Trail (Loop)” -- to the far left or west, on the map -- might be sufficiently challenging for me and easy enough for my wife. To reach that trail head, from the visitor center, we drove 1.8 miles west, on US-25W N, to Bruce Gap Road (which the map identifies). My ol' truck was the only vehicle in the parking lot. We had the entire hike to ourselves!

We started our hike, at the information board, in the photograph below, at 12:11 PM. (Please note that all the photographs, in this article, were taken, as we hiked back out.)

Photograph by M. Fearghail, 10/10/2023, 1:33 PM.

Can you see the reflections of my wife and me, in the above photograph? Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, with a wave, was standing behind me. I was wearing a white T-shirt and my favorite hiking cap. The view looks northwest.

We'd hiked northeast, only a short distance, on a level trail, until we reached the main trail head, in the photograph below. The several trail options increased my interest in additional hikes!

Photograph by M. Fearghail, 10/10/2023, 1:29 PM.

Some years ago, a friend and former co-worker had mentioned the “Devil's Racetrack Trail.” Intrigued, I'd always thought that it would be a farther drive, from the house. After we'd been on the “Volunteer Trail (Loop)” a while, I noticed where the “Devil's Racetrack Trail” connected to it!

While Mrs. Appalachian Irishman waited, I hiked a short distance on the “Devil's Racetrack Trail!” It was somewhat interesting. I never did see the devil or his racetrack. I may call my friend, to see if he would like to hike the “Devil's Racetrack Trail” with me, one of these days!

The “Volunteer Trail (Loop)” is easy enough. It also intersects with the “Cumberland Trail,” on which we hiked awhile. Several switchbacks offered steep enough climbs, to challenge me a little. Going down other switchbacks was somewhat challenging. We saw many buckeyes, which had fallen from several buckeye trees. I brought two buckeyes home. If we'd had a sack with us, we could have picked a bag full!

At one point, we crossed a wooden bridge that spanned a small creek. Later, as we were on our way out, we spotted a turtle, apparently asleep, right on the trail. I tapped him, with my foot, and suggested that he get off the trail, before someone, not noticing, stepped on him more firmly. He didn't even stick out his head, to thank me for the warning!

The photograph below shows Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, waving, at the convergence of the “Volunteer Loop” and “Cumberland Trail.” This was at our hike out. Hiking in, we'd taken the right (southeast) fork, to the “Volunteer Loop.” We'd returned down the higher (northeast) “Cumberland Trail.” My hiking theology always states, “at a life crossroad, always take the right path, going in!”

Photograph by M. Fearghail, 10/10/2023, 1:09 PM.

A minute after I'd taken the above photograph, I used my “semi-intelligent” phone to record the podcast. The podcast is in the next section.

The next photograph is of the parking lot. As I've stated, this is on Bruce Gap Road, a short drive from the visitor center.

Photograph by M. Fearghail, 10/10/2023, 1:35 PM,

No other vehicle, aside from my ol' truck, was in the parking lot, at our arrival and departure. There's Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, waving at y'all again! My truck enjoyed the shade, while awaiting our return.

As an interesting note, we were near the parking lot and almost off the trail, when a local police officer drove in, around, and out of the parking lot! He must have been checking my truck. I hope that he saw us. I waved at him. If he'd stopped, I would have shaken his hand and thanked him for his service, to the folks in Caryville!

The “Volunteer Trail (Loop)” and adjacent trails are interesting enough. Interstate 75, maybe a tenth of a mile or so to the west, runs alongside much of the trail. I didn't care for all that traffic noise. Still yet, as I've said many times, “A day in the woods is better than not!”

For further reading, about the “Devil's Racetrack Trail,” this article suggests “Devil's Racetrack,” on Tennessee River Valley and, for a more personal article, “East Tennessee Hike: A Review of Devil’s Racetrack Trail to Triple Falls & Devil’s Overlook,” on "adventure and the girl," by Jayme, 3/19/2022. Both articles include great photographs. The first article summarizes the trail quite well. The second article, well written, is about a hike that the couple had taken last year. I like the personal style of the second article.

The Podcast, Featuring Mrs. Appalachian Irishman!

I started the video recording, at 1:10 PM, as I'd stated, below the third photograph -- where Mrs. Appalachian Irishman was waving, at the convergence of the “Volunteer Loop” and “Cumberland Trail.” It's only a minute and 32 seconds long, since I couldn't coax my wife into a more pithy conversation. I tried!

This Appalachian Irishman - Podcasts episode introduces, for the first time, and highlights Mrs. Appalachian Irishman! Take it away, dear! Here she is, folks: “Cove Lake State Park: 10-10-2023 Hike (published 10-12-2023; episode 20).”

Y'all are welcome, dear readers and viewers, to encourage my wife to open up her gift of gab a bit more, in her next podcast feature! She can and does talk more, when she sets her mind to it.

Dining at Rickard Ridge BBQ

Being hungry, after our hike, my wife and I decided to dine at Rickard Ridge BBQ, which is located in the park, just west of the visitor center. The cordial server (or waitress, as they were once called) seated us and took our orders quickly.

That had to be one of the best hamburgers that I've ever eaten! The french fries were great also! My wife enjoyed her loaded baked potato. We each ate every bite! I'd even thought about asking the diners, nearby, if I could have one of their mushrooms! Those looked good.

As the two photographs, below, indicate, the restaurant is quite nice. Large windows allow views of the valley, Cove Lake, and the Cumberland Mountains.

Photograph by M. Fearghail, 10/10/2023, 2:56 PM.

The next photograph looks northwest. The restaurant, to my southwest, is beside me. Enjoy the view!

Photograph by M. Fearghail, 10/10/2023, 2:58 PM

Wouldn't you like to hike up to the ridge line, somewhere, on Cumberland Mountain? I would!


I wish, years ago, that I'd figured out that Cove Lake State Park is about the same distance, from the house, as Panther Creek State Park. I know now! My hiking log and memory recall three hikes, so far, at Panther Creek State Park: on 10/29/2010, as noted in “Four Hikes in Four Days! (published 11-14-2010),” on 11/24/2017, and on 12/10/2017. I have photographs and memories of the two hikes, in 2017, but I didn't publish articles about those hikes.

This hike was my 236th, since I started logging hikes, on 4/23/2000. Only the Good Lord knows the actual number of hikes that I've taken, before I started my log. It was Mrs. Appalachian Irishman's 28th hike with me. She's accompanied me on: House Mountain (12 of 181 hikes so far), Norris Dam State Park (three of 23 hikes so far), Hawkins County (one of 12 hikes so far), Smoky Mountains National Park (four of five hikes so far), and other locations (eight of 15 times so far). This hike is an “other locations” hike, in my hiking log.

Remember, dear reader, “Any day in the woods is better than not!” Today, the weather is clear, sunny, windy, and unseasonably warm. It would have been a good day for another hike. Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, however and unlike me, did not sense that “[t]he mountains are calling, and I must go” (John Muir, 1873). The source for the John Muir quote is noted in the articles of 3/31/2023 (House Mountain hike #179) and 4/14/2023 (House Mountain hike #180). My wife, bless her heart, doesn't hear the mountains call, as I do. To her credit, however, she did manage one hike in one week.

Well, this Appalachian Irishman is 10-10 on the side now. To any readers, who are interested in hiking House Mountain, I've hiked “My Mountain,” as I call it, 181 times, so far. If you'd like a free hiking guide, to help you on your first hike there, then you are welcome to use the “Contact Form,” on the main page of this website, to email me. I will respond!