Spring Time in Tennessee
April 15-19th, 2021
Thursday April 15th Pre-run/fun activities
Many of the Wolverines made the trek down from Michigan to Tennessee to run some trails and enjoy an early spring. Some of the group received a personal tour of the historic Huntsville jail by Mayor Dennis Jeffers Thursday morning. To answer the question "No we were not considered inmates"! The group started to arrive in the afternoon and after a bit of parking Tetris and unloading the group relaxed at the cabin. Later that evening the group attended a kick off dinner at RaeZacks and a good meal with great friends was enjoyed by all.
Friday April 16th, 2021 Royal Blue Wildlife Area
Day one was a 45 minute commute over to exit 141 off I-75 where the main group met up with other Wolverines who stayed closer to the area, After everyone aired-down and a brief drivers meeting the group crossed over I75 and entered the Royal Blue area. Starting with trail 12 (Cell Phone Tower Trail) was the easy part of the journey as it was a gravel road (well kind of). The group headed down trail 10 and finally made the right turn onto trail 4 only to find a bulldozer working to clear fallen trees. With trail 4 blocked between 10 and 1 the group made their first about face of the day and headed back up 4 to connect to trail 6. Somewhere along this section it got more muddy and rutted to the point of the Jeep Liberty having a valve stem failure resulting in a flat tire. After a quick pit stop and for lunch the group made it's way to the more difficult trail number 6 without any further difficulty. A quick left took the group down trail 13 which was scenic with a few rock ledges to navigate up or around. Another turn this time to the right and up trail 19 (Walnut Mountain trail) as we made the trek around the mountain. The wildflowers were out along with the redbuds and dogwood tress making the 8 mile loop enjoyable. After a wrong turn the group found itself heading down the mountain into the town of LaFollette where we aired up under a cool bridge. From there it was back up old highway 64 towards the cabin. Overall it was muddy and fun except for the flat tire and broken side glass window. The group enjoyed Mexican food at El Reys before socializing at the cabin.
Friday Night April 16th, 2021 Eternal Flame
We had a couple of brave souls attempt to find the Eternal Flame at night. The group was within 600 feet or so of the Eternal Flame but due to the darkness, recent tornado and flood the trail was not evident. We still had a good time and saw some interesting trails to say the least!
Saturday April 17, 2021 Pickett State Forest/Blackhouse
We called this the 'Overlook Ride' and started off in Big South Fork Park before heading into the Pickett State Forest. Stop 1 was the East Rim overlook where the group hiked (walked) the 0.2 paved trail to the wooden platform, From there we headed down to Leatherwood Ford where we saw the gazebo that was underwater just a couple of weeks ago, After a bathroom break we headed up and out of the gorge and over to Pickett State Forest. After airing down we took trail 101 towards the 'Pall Mall Overlook'. Think Alvin York. The trail leader showed the group how to place a Jeep on two wheels without rolling over. While everyone seemed impressed they chose a different line through the trail. The overlook view was fantastic as it was a clear day! After a quick lunch stop it was down trail 104 to Mineral or Emerald Lake. The trail was rutted and muddy making slow but challenging travel. The lake was a big hit as we had it to ourselves. The climb out claimed a ring gear from the front axle of one of the Jeeps. Shortly after that trail leader was picking up a plastic fender and the Liberty recovered a rear fender flare. Others played pinball with the trees to a lesser extent. The intent was to hit trail 1 and then head over to 12 and view the 'Yellow Doors Overlook' but we ran out of time. The winter ice storm had done some real damage to the trail system. The Liberty also decided that a radiator fan would be optional but ran into an overheating problem. The group was able to pull the axle shafts out to drive the Jeep back to the cabin. After a couple of attempts to fix the fan an aftermarket one was installed. Dinner on Saturday was on your own while some grilled hotdogs and bratwursts others took the easy way out with pizza.
Sunday April 18, 2021 Chitwood Mountain Loop
After another hearty breakfast the group headed north towards Winfield TN and Chitwood Mountain, The old strip coal mine area has created a nice loop trail around the mountain. After a bit of tugging and winching on the first hill the group was off and down the wrong trail once again! Even our trail leader who was 'Turtling' on a rock as a stuck. Another quick about face and 5 minutes later they were playing on the rocks. The group had a lunch at 'The hole in the earth' before tackling the big and nasty hill climb. No stucks on this one! a quick left turn and down the mountain to the river as the expectations were high for the water crossings. The final count on water crossings was about 22 or 23 depending on who was counting. Glad it was dry! No breakdowns and everyone enjoyed a nice ride around the mountain before stopping by Murf's Gearbox for a burger/fries..
Monday April 19, 2021 Upper Cumberland WMA Eternal Flame
Another attempt at the Eternal Flame which was successful. Not sure if we could find it in the dark even after just being there. Ask Phil K. for the story on the ride.