Sunday, July 20, 2014

July 20, 2014 - Lost Cove Cave, Tennessee

Today was another adventure organized by our favorite Park Ranger- Park Greer. Our quest was to hike to and then explore Lost Cove Cave. We met in the parking area then followed the path to the Buggytop entrance. Along for the trip- all five of us and three friends as well as a total stranger- Leslie and Ranger Park himself.

Park points out our intended path through the cave

Red eft stage of the Eastern newt

The Buggytop entrance is also where Lost Creek flows into the cove and is about 100' wide and 80' tall. This is the single most impressive cave opening I've ever seen that didn't have a lighted path and handrails to lead you into. This is the kind of cave that you see dragons flying out of.

Looking into Buggytop entrance

From just inside the cave looking out

Second entrance from inside the cave

Dave points out some markings on the wall

Park did this cool thing about a quarter of the way through the cave: he stopped leading and let us figure out which way to go based on the map. The map reminded me of something I would have drawn 20 years ago for a Dungeon and Dragons campaign. All it needed was a few treasure chests and symbols to indicate the patrol route of the goblins and the throne of the orc king...

Park and Ben making sand castles on the shore of the creek. Yes. Sand castles. In a cave.

Found in the cave: Eastern mud salamander 
We climbed over rock piles (breakdowns), splashed through the creek, slid on the mud and wedged ourselves through a couple of narrow passages. The plan was to exit at  the Peter Cave entrance. To get there we had to scramble up rock for a few hundred feet. We paused halfway up the breakdown to talk with Park.

Park talking about how he became a Park Ranger. IN A CAVE.

Peters Cave entrance- our way out.

Hiking back to the parking area along the rim of the cove
We saw spiders, albino cave crawdads, a bat, and non-photosynthesizing algae. Other than being a little muddy we came out mostly unscathed- except Esther who twisted her ankle on the trail. (Doctor confirmed it's a sprain and not a break and she's healing up.) 

Esther did a great job of getting many different pictures that I did not and you can see her blog entry here.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Uber Late Catch-Up Post

I've got some catching up to do...


Earlier in the year we lost Uncle Jim and in April we drove to Kentucky for his service. Jim was an Army Ranger, an author, and a role-model for progressive thinking. Jim married into the family by the time I was an adult but it really feels like he's always been there. Esther did a really great job with her blog post on the same day and got some pictures that missed. Here are a few that I took:

The small family grave site next to the military cemetery

On the way back home we stopped at Dunbar Cave State Park. The cave itself was closed due to white nose syndrome, but we did a short hike on the trail and around the lake.

Green snake; always willing to pose for a picture

We also paused to find a geocache near the Alabama/Tennessee state line at the site of an old mill. Ruins of the structure are all that's left.

All the pictures here.


Thanks to my talented and wonderful baby sister, for the second year in a row, we helped provide models for the Aveda Institute Catwalk for Water held in Birmingham. All three of ours participated and an additional thirteen other kids from our pool of homeschooling families joined in. 

That's my baby sister on the left.

 All these pictures here.


In May we hiked around Hurricane Creek with some friends.

Although we've been coming to the park for years now I had somehow missed that John McCrary, the manager, manufactures his own line of climbing gear, Pangea. Check out his Facebook page for more information.

John has recently expanded his gear selection with these dog harnesses.

More pictures from that day here.


National Free Comic Book Day! (With bonus geocaching.)

Few more pictures here.


This was an adventure. Pisgah Gorge is often called "one of Alabama's best-kept secrets." It's definite proof that as long as I've lived in Alabama there are still new things to find and see. Here's a somewhat wonky map of the trail we took along the rim of the gorge and then down to one of three consecutive waterfalls. 

The upper falls

At the rim of the gorge

Just below the top of waterfall #2

Looking down to the pool below the middle falls

While Esther and the boys stayed at the top of the middle falls and lounged in hammocks and explored upstream, Chandler lead the way down to the pool below the second falls and on to the third falls.

Top of the lower falls

Chan at the lower falls with Plank, her new friend

Chan, Plank and me


Watersnake (not a copperhead)

Middle falls from below (Chan in middle-frame)
All the pictures of this adventure are here.