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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Cedars of Lebanon and Gatlinburg At Last

We arrived at Cedars of Lebanon just as it got dark on Thursday, so it wasn't until Friday morning that we got to see the park.  We rented a 2 bedroom cabin for 2nights at $110 night, but besides the wood floor in the living room it was very basic and even though the view out all the windows was nice it made it hard for the vaulted living area ever to feel warm even with the heat set at 74F.

We were also unlucky enough to share the cabin with some cockroaches.  I killed a few and the rest I reported to the park office so hopefully they will go in and finish murdering the rest of them. People wonder why I like to RV and to tent camp and I'll tell you right now I never had a cockroach in my tent and even if I did it would be pretty darn easy to evict him and any of his friends!  Once I zip that zipper ain't no bugs getting in!  We kept most of our personal items in the car so as not to encourage hitchhikers.

 We saw the deer a couple of times during our short stay, and they kept a watchful eye on what was happening on the road but were not skittish.  Smart enough to be leery but not incredibly wild.

reindeer lichen

I dragged Cory onto the Hidden Springs trail yesterday which is a 5 mile loop.  Since Cory doesn't hike or do much any thing resembling it I broke him in slowly.  We walked for half and hour in and then half an hour back out on the flat limestone littered trail.  There was quite a bit of reindeer lichen growing.  I figure we did just about 3 miles because we kept a steady pace.

limestone everywhere

He was pretty tired but I forced him past what he thought his limit should be.  We have a lot of hiking ahead of us on this trip and it doesn't get easier if you start out too slowly.  Besides, we had to give those new Keen hiking boots a good breaking-in!

I didn't have my track expert with me, so I'm guessing raccoon on the muddy print above.  Anyone able to confirm that?


We spent the rest of our time yesterday hanging out at Panera sucking up their free wifi and then I darted in to Dillard's in Murfreesboro to snag Cory some Woolrich flannel shirts on clearance.  Score!

trail to the right, sinkhole to the left

This morning after I loaded most of the stuff in the car I decided I had enough time to scoot over to the 1/2 mile Limestone Sinks trail which was right across from the cabin area.  Be careful where you walk, they don't call it Limestone Sinks for nothing!

they went that-a-way

 If you're uncertain which way to go you can follow the blue blazes, or try the direction the bump on the tree is pointing.

The exposed limestone along the trail is covered in a variety of crustose lichens, all you have to do is lean in and look.   Bifocals may be necessary for those over the age of 40.

My no-line bifocals aren't doing their job very well lately, time to bump it up a notch

It was only 30F so my walk was almost a run, and at the end I noticed something I had missed during my hurried tour.


At first I thought it was ice, then a closer look revealed...what?  I still don't know.  But once I saw them I saw there were a lot of them, some just barely emerging from the ground.  Obviously some plant that left behind that brittle stalk is making its way back above ground.

I would sure love to know what the heck it is, so any help appreciated!  I also swung through the campground really quick to see what it was like in case Wayne and I return to the area.  The sites are very long, room enough for a truck in front AND behind a fifth wheel or class A easily.  However, they are not very widely spaced, which may be typical of Tennessee state parks I'll have to do more investigating.  Overall though not bad, better than most private pay parks.

And now we're in Gatlinburg after an unusually uneventful drive.  I took the Chapman Highway and then skipped Sevierville and the Outlets area by taking the River Divide Road to Henderson Road.  I ended up coming out onto the main drag just before The Christmas Place in  Pigeon Forge and it was worth the detour.  The roads are very twisty, definitely not for night driving or RVs, but it was quick and easy in the daytime in a car.  We even made it through Gatlinburg fairly quickly and are settled in to our rental house after a short walk near the Sugarlands Visitor Center and a visit to The Sinks.

our home for the next few days


  1. That looks like a lovely cabin in the woods! Nice ambiance! Good to start slow with a non-hiker. I am hoping it grows on him!

  2. I think that unusual white plant is Frostweed, not because I know it, but because Jacqui Donnelly featured it on her blog 'Saratoga woods and waterways'. Check out her post of last Nov. 15th.

    1. Thanks for the tip, I looked it up and it is indeed Verbesina virginica commonly known as Frostweed. And you gave me a new blog to investigate!

  3. Looks like Cory is a real trooper if he isn't a hiker to go out with his mom in such cold weather. Never seen Frostweed before so thanks for that. Seems to have a perfect name if it starts coming up in January in Tennessee.

  4. Glad you are developing a new hiker...maybe:) Love the Frostweed! Too cute:)
    Have a wonderful time!