Hiking along the path that my Great Grandfather C.D. Phillips traveled so many times.

   This hiking trip I was honored to have the chance to follow the footsteps of some of my ancestors.

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I visited the spring that my Great Grandfather C.D. Phillips (born June 1st 1866) used to drink from and carry water from to his home. Later my grandfather Ethridge Phillips used this same  spring and once my dad  Earnel Phillips was old enough one of his chores was to carry water from this spring to their home and also lead the milk cow and  horses to an area to the right of the spring that was used to water the stock a safe distance away from the family's drinking water supply. 

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     Near this spring is also an area where they would collect clay to use for several projects. This clay is so white that they would often use it to make a white wash to paint the walls inside their home. 

   If your out hiking and run across a very old homesite here on the Cumberland Plateau chances are if you look close you will find a spring nearby. Often these springs are contaminated today. But years ago these springs would often determine where a family would decide to settle and build their home. They were prized and taken very good care of and cleaned out often to keep from getting clogged up. Now a lot of them no longer flow water above ground or are unsafe to drink from. It was nice to see this one is still there and flowing fresh cool clear water!

( I do not recommend drinking from any spring or water source today without filtering it or boiling it unless you know forsure the water is pure, clean and safe.)

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My Great Grandfather CD Phillips       My Grandfather Ethridge Phillips and barely visible my Great Uncle Erbin Phillips.

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My Grandfather and Grandmother Ethridge and Winnie Phillips and 3 of their  children including my Dad  Earnel Phillips, my Aunt Maxine and Uncle Robert.

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The Spotted Eastern Red Newt or Eft

We all know the story of a frogs life as a Tadpole that lives in the water as a baby and then lives on land and water after it matures. But many people don't know the story of the Red Newts life which is a bit more complex and to me even more interesting.

   Baby Newts live in the water and at that stage of their life they have gills.  Once they start to grow and become older they leave the water and rome the earth usually staying in cool shady areas of the forest. 

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  The juvenile Red Spotted Newt is actually known as an Eft and will live on land for usually 2 to 3 years but sometimes as long as 7 years.

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    Once they become an adult they will return to the water to live out the rest of their life. As an adult and back in the water they often can change color to more of an olive green body with a yellow belly. They will most often keep their spots at that point in their life also. The Red Spotted Newt can often live for 12 to 15 years of age.

    I found and photographed this one inside the Big South Fork NRRA on a warm day back in December.

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Frost Flowers

     If your out exploring in nature this Fall and early Winter maybe you will be lucky enough to encounter a Frost Flower! 

    Although these sometimes look like a flower from a distance they are not actually flowers at all. 

    Frost flowers are delicate ribbons of ice crystals that form on the lower stems of some plants. These formations depend on a hard freeze occurring while the ground isn't already frozen. This allows the stem of the plant to draw moisture up from the ground. This moisture and sap that's left in the stem of the plant will expand as it freezes and split the stem. This creates thin layers of ice to form into exquisite patterns that curl into almost petal like shapes that resemble a flower.

   These flower looking ice crystals have a very short life. Once the rays of the sun fall upon them they melt as quickly as frost. 

  Here are some that we found this past weekend. 

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Putting a little dirt and gravel in our travel

Here's a few random pics we shot this past week while out on the trails. 

The John Muir trail and Sheltowee Trace trails

The John Muir trail and Sheltowee Trace trails

A nice set of bear tracks along the trail

A nice set of bear tracks along the trail

Mushrooms on the side of a tree  

Mushrooms on the side of a tree  

Another huge bear track

Another huge bear track

If you watch there's still color to be seen in nature at this time of year! 

If you watch there's still color to be seen in nature at this time of year! 

A great place to set up camp and have a bedroom with a view

A great place to set up camp and have a bedroom with a view

Alittle color still on afew trees

Alittle color still on afew trees