We (along with much of the rest of the country) have experienced a couple of significant cold snaps recently – Polar Vortex is what I’ve been hearing it called. In any case, I thought it might provide an opportunity to see some iced waterfalls, and fortunately the Lula Lake Core Property “open day” on January 25 corresponded with one of these cold snaps where we had several days with temperatures staying well below freezing. My son-in-law and I grabbed some warm clothes and headed up onto the mountain. It was everything we’d hoped for; here are a few images…
It was a cloudy and dreary day today, following a lot of rain yesterday and last night, but Cindy and I made a quick run down to The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain again today to keep from being cooped up in the house another day. We were glad we did – the yellow and blue are out – Bluebells and Wood Poppies are blooming!
Read on for the rest of the list, and a few more photos. Click on the photos for larger images, and then “back” to return to this page.
We usually just call it “Virgin Falls”, both to refer to the 1,551 acre plot of land, as well as the namesake waterfalls occupying the far end of it. The official name for the land, however, is ”Virgin Falls State Natural Area” at least since the state of Tennessee acquired it in 2012. When I visited it previously it was known as “Virgin Falls Pocket Wilderness” and was owned by the Bowater Southern Paper Corporation. Bowater owns and maintains a number of “Pocket Wilderness” areas, and admirable public benefit and, I’m sure, public relations activity. Tennessee acquired the land using a number of funding sources, including a grant from the federal Endangered Species Recovery Land Acquisition Fund. These funds were provided in part due to the presence of Virginia Spirea (Spiraea virginiana), one of the rarest shrubs in North America.
When I heard about Virginia Spirea being in the Virgin Falls area I decided I needed to add that to the USWildflowers Waterfalls and Wildflowers series, and I was fortunate to make an overnight hike into the Virgin Falls State Natural Area on March 8-9 of this year (2013). While many wildflowers were already in full swing down my way in north Georgia, 70 miles north and a bit of elevation gain makes a difference, and this will be more waterfalls and less wildflowers than I expected to report.
On the 3rd day with sunshine after a week and a half of rain, we wanted to get outside. After church and lunch on Sunday, Cindy and I went up to Cloudland Canyon State Park. Yes, again! It was a lovely afternoon as we enjoyed the sunshine – and saw the temperature drop about 20 degrees within 30 minutes of the sun dropping below the horizon. Here are a half-dozen photos from the day.
I’ve posted most of these photos on Facebook and Twitter already, but in my semi-retirement I am more and more using the Journal to try to track some of my activities – Cindy and I are finding ourselves asking each other “What did we do last week?” Some of those Journal entries are just private notes as to what we did, but some, like this one, might have some community interest. This is one of those.
Since I work part-time now, my weekend usually starts on Thursday afternoon, but this week some projects used more of my time earlier in the week so I finished up a couple of hours earlier than usual. We’d had rain (lots of rain) for 9 days in a row, and there was slight break in the rain before a cold front came through bringing more rain and possibly snow (some nearby areas got some; we didn’t.) I decided to take that break as an opportunity to run up to Cloudland Canyon State Park to see what the waterfalls looked like after all the rain.
The first waterfalls that I saw wasn’t one that I expected. During normal water levels you don’t even notice this one across the canyon from the main overlook. I suspect that during dry weather there may be no water at all in this unnamed stream tumbling down the bluff.
I made a July trip over to Cloudland Canyon State Park to see the waterfalls with an expectation that I’d also see many wildflowers along the way, and I wasn’t disappointed. While recently posting a report on a visit to nearby Lula Falls, I discovered that I’d never written the planned report on the Cloudland Canyon trip. I quickly realized that I didn’t remember many of the details of the walk – and I was relieved to discover that the July trip was in 2011, not just this past July, so the memory fade was more reasonable. But to refresh that failing memory, I made another trip up there on Dec 5. Here are a dozen photos from those two “waterfalls and wildflowers walks.”
(Click on any image and you’ll go to Flickr where you can view larger sized images.)
On Friday, 11/23, I was planning for a potential visit to Virgin Falls in February and I ran across information that Virginia Spiraea – Spiraea virginiana – one of the rarest shrubs in North America, is found there. A bit more time on Google quickly revealed that Virginia Spiraea is also found along Rock Creek at Lula Lake, and I got pretty excited. Lula Lake is on Lookout Mountain just above the valley where I live south of Chattanooga. Found the Lula Lake Land Trust on Facebook, and lo and behold, there was a picture of a gentleman looking at their Virginia Spiraea posted only a couple of days earlier, and a notice that the property would be open today, Saturday. OK, there are now some tentative plans for Saturday.
Burgess Falls State Park is a gem that my wife and I discovered on our way to a family reunion at a house on Center Hill Lake near Cookeville Tennessee. We visited the park on Saturday, March 24, and Monday, March 26.
I’d recently heard that the area was open to the public one or two days a month, and my son-in-law took several of his kids up there in April, thoroughly enjoying the visit. When my wife’s brother and his family came for a visit from Florida and wanted to hike in the mountains, this seemed like a great opportunity for my first visit to the reopened area, especially since Cindy’s brother Steve hadn’t been to the area in about 30 years. Saturday morning we packed some snacks, grabbed some grandkids, and our crew of 10 headed up the mountain.