Big Ridge State Park | Hike for the Health of It

IMG_3467 IMG_3469 IMG_3470 IMG_3471 IMG_3474r IMG_3551 IMG_3552 IMG_3557 IMG_3560 IMG_3561 IMG_3571 IMG_3578 IMG_3579It’s funny how you can hear about things to do.  If you keep your ears open, there are really a lot of things going on in or around Sharps Chapel.

Case in point – at the Sunset Bay Annual meeting last week, I happened to join in on a conversation between two women, only one of whom I actually knew.  I introduced myself to the other and found that she was a 4-H Program Assistant with the UT Extension Office of Union County in Maynardville.  Her name was Beth Bergeron and she was trying to get the word out about a walking program she was trying to get started in the area.  She mentioned a guided hike that was going to be given by Big Ridge State Park ranger Sarah Nicely, who happened to be the featured guest from that morning’s event.

Fast forward to Monday and 5 of us (Emily Lemming, Sandy Devery, Annie Grau, Pat Clapsaddle, and myself), pulled together by Pat Clapsaddle (thanks Pat!) were there!

We started out in the visitors’ center where there is a great map showing property boundaries and deed owners’ names around 1935.  At the annual meeting, Sarah had told us that Norris Lake was one of the first lakes to be dammed and when the government purchased property by eminent domain, they bought the whole parcel of anything that touched the area where the lake would be (a practice not repeated at other lakes).  That left an awful lot of land that was not used for the lake, and much of that was converted to parks, such as Big Ridge State Park and Chuck Swan, to name a few.

It was a great hike — only 3 miles, but I had never been on that trail, which went around the lake at Big Ridge State Park.  The biggest surprise for me was to find that Big Ridge actually has their own dam that separates it from Norris Lake.  There actually is no way to physically boat between the two bodies of water!  The trail has you walking across the dam to get to the other side of the lake.

I’ve always wanted to know the difference between white and red oak trees and I took the opportunity to ask Ranger Nicely if she could help me understand this.  She was able to quickly find actual examples of leaves from the two different kinds and explain that white oaks have rounded ends on their lobes and red oak trees have pointed ends.  I knew I wouldn’t remember this without  some little catch phrase or mnemonic and she quickly came up with “red devils have pointy tails”.  That does the trick for me.  Thanks Sarah.  Now if I could only distinguish tree bark.

Some other things she pointed out, that I’ve included pictures of, were:

  • – an umbrella magnolia tree with huge leaves that fanned out like an umbrella.  She said this is native to TN.
  • – a nest of Great Blue Herons in one of the coves we hiked around.  I knew they nested high in treetops, as I had seen this in the Cleveland Ohio area, but would not have noticed it here without her pointing it out.
  • – a stone wall embankment, built by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) from FDR’s New Deal.

As an aside, one thing that continually amazes me about Sharps Chapel is how small a community it is.  When you hike with someone, it’s easy to pick up on some of their personal information.  It turns out that Sarah Nicely is married to now Union County Deputy Dennis Nicely, who used to be a builder at Sunset Bay.

Thanks Sarah for a great, informative walk.  We all had an enjoyable time.

So whether you join a formal hike or walk on your own, walking is a very healthy, low-impact way to exercise.  So enjoy this weather and try to get out to stretch those legs.

P.S. Thanks to Pat for half of these photos.

Life is an Adventure!

Polar Bear Club at Sunset Bay


I’ve never been one for group sports but you have to admit that these Polar Bear Club participants at Sunset Bay, in Sharps Chapel, TN, look like they are having a fun time.  The pool was 71 degrees and it was October 12, in TN and not Minnesota in the dead of winter, but there were a number of people gasping from surprise after they jumped in.

The only rules are that you have to dunk your head and the first one out is President for next year.  That honor goes to Rebecca Miller.  Congratulations Rebecca!

Interested in joining?  All you have to do is to be a property owner at Sunset Bay and show up with your swimsuit at the next Annual Meeting.

Sharps Chapel Women Attend International Quilt Show

Sharps Chapel Quilters at Lunch2013 International Quilt Show2013 International Quilt Show Detail 2013 International Quilt Show 2013 International Quilt Show 2013 International Quilt Show 2013 International Quilt Show 2013 International Quilt Show Detail 2013 International Quilt Show Last weekend, the International Quilt Show was held in Cincinnati and a group of women from Sharps Chapel joined a bus tour and headed north to check it out.  I was in Dayton at the time and arranged to meet them there for one day.

The first photo shows everyone in our group seated for lunch inside the convention center.  Three women were from Sunset Bay, two from Norris Shores, one from Tanglewood, and two from Pinnacle Point (near the ferry).  That’s me in the cream jacket on the left.

It was a huge quilt show, with hand made quilts from all over the world.  I did not count the number of quilts, but there were easily 150.

And of course, where there are quilters, the quilt vendors cannot be too far away.  It was fun to see all the gadgets we supposedly can’t live without.

The two quilts I photographed here were my favorites.  I like geometric shapes and color.  It was interesting to get to know the other women better and learn what they were interested in.  Some liked quilts with flowers in them.  Others had preferences for quilts that had not been embellished with painting.

I am so glad that I was able to meeting up with the group and share the experience with them.  Thanks, Nancy S., for helping to make this happen and making me feel welcome.

If you are interested in quilting, there is a quilting club in Sharps Chapel.  They welcome new members.

Life is an adventure!



Kayaking on Norris Lake TN

What a beautiful day for kayaking on Norris Lake! New friend Pat and I started out around 9 am in her bright yellow sea kayaks on mirror-like calm waters. They were a dream to kayak in. The rudder and long keel made a big difference in reducing the amount of effort involved.

We had a vague plan, first to head west along the shore, then circle back and go east down Lost Creek. On one of the islands we passed, Pat spotted a big Tom turkey — his feathers in full display like a turkey on a page out of a child’s Thanksgiving coloring book. Further along, we found a cove that was surrounded by the beautiful yellow flowers that are in bloom now. I shared that if I was an otter, that I would choose to live here.

We ran into a number of families out fishing in their boats and said hello. Pat had heard about a mill and asked one of the fishermen where it might be. He immediately pointed us in the right direction and off we went. It was at the end of Lost Creek in the creek that runs  up to the left. You can see in the photos that it is more a mill run – not a foundation for an actual mill building that I had pictured in my mind.

Little did we know that it would turn into a 5 hour, 12-mile long trip — all good. Kayaking is a great way to get to know someone.  Its leisurely pace allows ample time and opportunity to share story after story.  The time went so fast but I was a tired puppy at the end – smiling from ear-to-ear.

Life is an adventure!

Land of OZ Here in Sharps Chapel

April 8, 2012 — The island on Norris Lake that has Day Marker 23 is awash with color! Yellow flowers all along the shoreline and into the water surround the island, which is still accessible via a land bridge that has not been covered yet with water.

Jim and I like to walk around the island, it takes about 1.5 hours.  The going is easy until you get to the NE side which has a steeper shoreline.  Sometimes we detour around this section by going inland.  This trip, we were overcome by the beauty of these flowers on the S and SE shores where the shoreline has more soil.  I immediately thought of Dorothy of the Wizard of OZ emerging from the dark forest and walking into the field of poppies.  You simply must experience walking into the center of this field of flowers and seeing nothing but yellow glow everywhere.

I picked a handful of the flowers and put them in a bucket of water when I got home.  They quickly perked up and lasted for several days.

Life is an adventure!