Friday, January 7, 2011

BUSHWHACKING ON THE MOUNTAIN

Click on Photos to enlarge
I had plans of canoeing back up Abrams and Panther Creeks today but awoke to a particularly nasty day.  Drizzle was falling and a slight wind was blowing that promised to become stronger as the day progressed.  Not one to waste a day;  I grabbed my shoulder bag and loaded up Douglas and Shade into the truck.  We would go for a hike on the West slope of the mountain that boarders Abrams Creek channel.  I wanted to see if I could cross that deer trail I found last week and follow it to wherever.  We parked at the mouth of Abrams where it flows into Chilhowee Reservoir and started straight up the mountain side.  This is steep!  A short climb brought us to an old cemetery of sorts.  I can't figure it out and haven't done any research on it but, I surely will at some point.
The probability of discovering sites like this is what keeps my outdoor meanderings interesting.  Oh;  I've made no new discovery here.  It's just a grave site that no one has moved or disturbed.  It's new and interesting to me though.  The largest tomb stone appears to have been replaced at some point in time, probably by a distant relation who desires to perpetuate respect and dignity for the fallen family member.  Look at the dates.  An original stone would have been just that;  a stone.
Another shot with a slightly different exposure is below:
How about the closeup below:
Yep;  you're reading it correctly.  War of 1812
The letters and the style and quality of the headstone cinches the idea that this grave site has been modified from the original.
Above is another stone.  Strange things have happened in these valleys when TVA flooded them.   There are many head stones that are simply flat stones and rocks placed on ends standing vertical with nothing written on them.  This is a strange place.  I'll eventually get to the bottom of it but, for now, we have to get on up this mountain.
The mountain side takes a very sharp incline just behind the little grave yard.  I have to hang on to saplings to keep from slipping and falling.  The leaves are wet and the rocks are slick.  Palliated woodpeckers are hammering on trees above us.  There sounds like a dozen of them at work.  A fallen log that has gone soft with age and rot show some of their work.
Closer inspection of the log shows deep, rectangular slots drilled out by the woodpeckers.  It's a strange hole they make.
The soft, punky wood allows their bills to sink deep into the rotten wood in search for insects.  There are a variety of insects that spend the Winter months under the thick bark of trees foraging until the warmth of Spring.
This is indeed a steep mountain.  We're making good time though.  I have brought a GPS along to record elevation and to document any fantastic finds that I may want to return to.  I am angling my approach so as not to exhaust myself.  A vertical ascent would require stopping about every fifteen feet;  at least for me it would.   The dogs, Douglas and Shade simply go every which way and exhibit endless energy. " Yes Douglas;  I'm coming.   You run along and I'll catch up, my friend."
That is water to the left in the picture above.  The scenes are beautiful out here.  Photographs out of a small camera can not do the wilderness justice.
Another view downward toward water.
Twenty minutes later we stop for a break.  Even the dogs are feeling it now.  They lay down and rest.  "Good boy Douglas."  He always waits for me.
Even Shade is tiring.  Earlier, I watched her power straight up and down this mountain repetitively with unending energy.  Her back legs are amazing to watch.  The thick muscles actually bulge and are visibly larger than when she is casually traveling.  But, even she is due for a break.
I stood up and twisted around while raising my head toward the top where we are going.
I've seen this view a few times today.  It seems that just when I think I'm near the top, another tier appears that needs climbed.  But, I believe the top of this mountain lies just ahead.
"Come on Douglas;  get Shade and lets go."
We are about a half mile up the side of this mountain traveling in a diagonal direction.  A quick look to the right and I have to bend my neck way back to few the cliff we are climbing.
The terrain has become rocky.  I remember the deer or wildlife trail, if you will, from last week lead off through boulders.  I believe we are far to the South of that trail at this point.  The mosses are beautiful.  I have always loved mosses and lichens when traveling through the forest in Winter.  They are a center piece that draws the attention from the normal browns of Winter.  Just like the white of snow;  the rich greens of Bryopsida adds change and uniqueness to the normal.  These are mosses of the Bryopsida class; subclass Dicranidae.   There are over 11,000 species of Bryopsida known.  It is a delicate looking plant that is capable of flourishing through the worse that nature can dish out on this continent.
We finally step over the top.  Well;  I finally step over the top.   The dogs have been waiting for me at the top edge for over fifteen minutes.  "I'm coming!"
The views are spectacular!
The Smoky Mountains are on the horizon but are difficult to view as the sun's position is not conducive to good photography.
I noticed many buck rubs on sticks and saplings up here.  This area is in the Great Smoky National Park and the deer are concentrated rather heavily in the area.  I took some shots of the rubs but, the camera has trouble focusing on the thin, narrow sticks.  It seems the focusing system wants to focus on the larger subjects directly behind the slender object I wish to photograph.
We definitely have to head back.  The wind is increasing and the drizzle is falling once more.  I had hoped to get a canoe ride in today but, I'm thinking I'll pass.  Snow is due to fall tonight and I'd prefer to be on the water with snowfall.  There's nothing more beautiful!
 Yep;  we have to go through that!  May as well get it going.  "Come on guys."
I love moving through these mountains on foot with my friends.  It's fresh smelling out here and there aren't any unnatural noises present.  But, my first love is paddling my canoe through and around it all.  That's where it's at.  That's living!  I don't feel I'm intruding in the canoe.  I feel that I blend in with the natural surroundings and much of the time go unnoticed when in a canoe rather than  trundling through the brush disturbing everything while on foot.  It's just a philosophy I have I guess.  Oh;  we'll be on the water tomorrow.  I don't care what the weather is;  we'll be on the water.  Just a couple more pictures below and we'll see you next trip.  Thanks for looking in.


In reference to Hugh Ghormley, the name on that tombstone;  see below:  The names of the towns associated with Hugh Ghormley are of interest to me as they are places I visit and live near.  The tombstone I found is in Monroe County beside Chilhowee Lake.  Chilhowee was a Cherokee town back in the 1700's.

Hugh Ferdinand Ghormley
born 9 April 1789 in Monroe County, Tenn.
died 27 Jan 1843 in Chilhowee, Blount County, Tenn.
His Father: Abraham Ghormley, 1758-1836
His Mother: Elizabeth McAlister, 1762-1846

Hugh was the eldest of ten children. His youngest sibling, Samuel, was born in 1806.
There were three generations of Ghormleys which had 10 children in each generation. There must be a lot of Ghormleys around.
Hugh F. Ghormley was the Chilhowee Postmaster.
This is an entry in Ancestry.com by Lita Gator:
"Hugh owned 1200 acres in Monroe Co., Chilhowee, TN, 27 miles from Marysville, TN.
Records of his children were found in Clemens Geneology in PA. Vo., 19.
Hugh Ghormley served in the War of 1812. Private - Capt. Trimble's Co. Tennessee Militia. He enlisted Jan. 20, 1814 and was discharged May 20, 1814.
Hugh Ghormley was appointed postmaster at Chilhowee, Tennessee in 1828 and regular twice-weekly mail service was established in 1832. "

He was married to Nancy Charles, 1797-1884. She was born and died in the same community of Chilhowee. They had 10 children.