Category Archives: Tennessee

Hike Like a Goat: Part 1—Plan to Fall

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Hike Like a Goat

This 7 part series came out of a conversation that my Honey and I had about being sure footed on the trail. She wanted to leave the fear of falling behind with all of its timidness and tentativeness. In other words she wanted to Walk Like a Goat. When I said that the first time to her, she wanted to know what that meant because it sounded derogatory…until I explained: a goat is confident  and relaxed on rugged and uneven ground—so stable and skilled on her feet is that goat that falling is not even a fleeting thought. Walking Like a Goat is a high complement for any Honey on the trail.

Let’s unpack Part 1 of this series called:

Plan to Fall

To plan to fall—to anticipate what could happen during the step you are about to take and having the very next step picked out just in case. It’s about being mentally prepared and practiced so that you will react with beautiful adjustments—stepping gracefully forward.

As my feet fly down the trail over rocks and roots I stutter step, hop, glide and skid without thinking about it. But when she asked, “How do you do that and not fall?” I began to pay attention and realized that it is all just planned falling.

In terribly slow detail here is what essentially happens. I step out for what looks like a good place to step. It looks like it will hold my weight and not move under me. It looks like I can push off of it for the next step while controlling the direction and speed.

Then as I run, in the same split second, I am picking out the next spot with that same criteria and one more—where am I going if I start to fall? If the first step isn’t solid and something under my foot moves, I have a plan. If I can’t push of it like I had hoped, I’m ready.

This process of selecting good footing is slow at first but with practice it will come much more quickly.

It is not only the selection of the footing itself but it is that your body is ready to react. You don’t know which way your ankle or knee will need to adjust but you are ready for any adjustment. It feels a little bit like playing outfield in baseball or softball. You assume a ready position with your legs bent, your weight slightly forward and evenly distributed down into the balls of both feet—ready to spring in any direction to catch the ball.

Muscle memory develops with repetition and your body “knows” what to do to adjust.

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My Honey slips, executes her plan for this occasional eventuality and quickly regains stability

Ideally you will pick a spot that is solid but in the event that you don’t your body will be ready to make the adjustments and move to the next step because you picked it out and because your body is practiced at quick adjustments.

I used to think that it was just a natural athletic ability but it can be learned. Be grateful if you have it and you don’t have to think about it or practice, but if you are like my Honey who used to trip on flat sidewalks, you will have to practice and think it thorough but it can be learned.

My Honey is the proof. Her confidence and speed has risen and she is so much more relaxed. She’s having more fun and so can you. It’s an easy process that can be learned.

Thousands of Fireflies Make the Woods Magical

A Guestpost by Loral Pepoon (Honey)

Something magical happens when you don’t know what to expect and an experience ends up being far better than you could have imagined. We happened to get lucky and snag the last campsite in the Smokey Mountains at Elkmont campground, in an area where around 1,800 people flock to see the synchronous fireflies once a year during mating season.

I was excited to go and see some fireflies because my husband would be there and we would get to spend time his daughter, son-in-law and our baby granddaughter, but I was concerned about the weather—thunderstorms were predicted. Bears were also on my mind—after all, these mountains are where Smokey the Bear got his name—especially with the baby around. We didn’t have our bear can with us. But, once I saw that the campground looked very well used, my concerns about bears were allayed.

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The Fantastic Five—from Pop’s (Seth’s) perspective!

To deal with the weather, we put up a Kelty tarp, which we borrowed from a friend for shade on our recent beach camping trip. I’m so glad we had that tarp. It’s awesome, and we I’ve been miserable camping in the rain before. But this tarp fixed everything! We could stand up and walk around and gather at a table and hang out with hot beverages and smores without an issue. We were content in our dry campsite, and honestly we thought it might be rained out and there would be no fireflies to be seen. Seth’s daughter wasn’t sure she should wake the baby because it was so late, but her husband coaxed her along.

I also really didn’t feel well. Oh the joys of being a female and the monthly curse. But at least there were facilities here.

All these reasons would have been reason enough to stay cozy in our rain protected campsite instead of walking a short distance to check out the fireflies. I’m so glad I didn’t fink out. If I wouldn’t have gone, I am not exaggerating to say that I would have missed out on an one of the most amazing experience of my life!

I’m so glad we went—WOW! I have honestly never felt more like a little girl in an Alice in Wonderland story. How old was I? Was I in a dream?

 I walked through a dark forest, holding my husband’s arm to guide me, knowing potentially hundreds of people were around us and yet, we couldn’t’ see a thing. Everybody walked fairly quietly and orderly. Then we started seeing a few fireflies light up. Then a few more. A few more steps and then we turn around to thousands of twinkling Christmas light looking fireflies lit up, buzzed, cracking like sparklers. Their lights covered the forest floor, all lighting up at once.

 It was so spectacular. I wish I could describe what happened in a better way for you. After thtey lit up, we began to see a pattern. We would count down…3…2…1 and they would all light up again for a second or two. And then it would go dark again. Then three seconds later, the Christmas lights would appear again.

 We watched them for about an hour within a fairly small area where we were walking around. And it was an hour that I will never forget. Absolutely amazing.

I tell everyone who will listen that it was truly one of the most magical experience of my life.

My mind linked the experience to Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at church, which is always my absolute favorite part of Christmas. It’s so beautiful when that dark room at church lights up with candle light—representing the hope of Christ if we all acted as He did toward one another. I had that same hope and peace during that magical experience walking among fireflies—in awe and wonder at God’s creation.

If you want to go see the synchronous fireflies, you will have to do some planning—and some praying, because there is a lottery, and only a fraction of the people get in. But, if you book your campsite in advance at Elkmont, you are automatically in. Try a weeknight for best success.

I promise you it will be well worth it. You may even find it magical—like I did.

(Read my husband’s account of the same experience...it’s so interesting how differently we remember the same event!) That’s one reason why everyone should write. We all have a different take on everything we do! If you would help writing a blog, article or book, please visit cowriterpro.com, and contact me

Christmas in July – Getting to Talk to Grandma on Time

Our Christmas Cabin
Our Christmas Cabin

Last Christmas was our second one together—we’ve been married almost two years now. We got to Celebrate Christ’s birth by combining lots of traditions and making some new ones. We celebrated with family before and after the big day. But on the 25th and 26th we rented a cabin in the Cumberland Mountain State Park in Tennessee. What a deal—there were running a winter half off special and we rented this cabin for a great half price winter deal and got two nights for $95.00.

We packed in the things you would expect: gifts, meal supplies, Christmas goodies, firewood, Bible, books, candles and of course, hiking gear.

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Jesus is the Light of the World—reading the story of His birth from Luke together.

Christmas day afternoon we headed out for the trail head of the Pioneer Trail Short Loop. Here is a great map of the area.

We thought we would enjoy a rainy stroll across a suspension bridge and complete the entire 2-3-ish mile loop in a couple of wet happy Christmas hours. This would get us back just in time for the family call to my Honey’s Grandma…well…or should I say Wow…that is not exactly what happened.

We left our warm toasty cabin in our rain gear covering us from head to toe. I was so delighted because my Honey is not fond of walking in the rain and was genuinely up for it this day. I love to hike in the rain so much that even at work I can feel the phantom weight of my backpack on my shoulders when a heavy down pour passes our office windows…and I smile…can’t wait for the next stormy adventure.

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A flood level Byrd Creek

We walked almost due West on the blacktop between the cabins until we reached a little access trail on the left just before the cul-de-sac.  When we reached the Short Loop we turned right and practically skipped the .2 miles to the suspension bridge. So happy to be alive and to be together on Christmas. Byrd Creek was so swollen under the bridge that it barely squeezed itself underneath.

I was practically giggling at our good fortune of getting to see such power, be in a storm and still be safe. (I wasn’t actually giggling…of course…because guys don’t do that, right?) I’m not a storm chaser but pretty close.

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Making an unusual Christmas memory

We turned left headed toward the famous bridge of arches that you see in almost every picture of this park. It was 1.6 miles away and we didn’t know if there where other bridges to cross except that one.

Shortly after turning left on the other side of the suspension bridge we got an inkling of what might be ahead—a runoff creek, the kind you only see in a storm, was so wide that we had to do a little stone hopping to cross.

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My Honey proving to be very agile crosses like a champ

We actually crossed 8 of these in that next mile—there are usually on two during normal wet periods but no limits on Christmas day!  My Strider Writer crossed every water obstacle like a champ! In several places the trail led down to the edge of the water and we had to make our own way through the trees to find the trail again.

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Hey Kemosabe! Where is the trail?

This was eating up a lot of clock and the scheduled time to call Grandma was rapidly approaching.  Hmmm…we decided to test the first bridge we came to at right about one mile and see what could be done to cross. Pleasant surprise to find this bridge…we might make it on time. It was completely in tact and solid but the far side was under three feet of water for the last 5 or 6 yards.  I went first with two hiking poles testing the ground ahead before each step—there was no current. When I crossed safely on what felt like poured concrete underneath, I turned around and went back to get Loral.  We plodded slowly through the ice cold water up to our knees to get to that call with Grandma.

This is my best “over the river and through the woods” story ever! We made it to the cabin door in time of the call. All the wet clothes went in a pile on the porch and into a thick warm blanket my Honey went. Within 10 minutes, (I wanted to do all I could to show my appreciation to her for coming on this foie that was out of her comfort zone) I had a fire started and a hot cup of her favorite tea in her hand while she talked to Grandma. It was a video call so we got to see and say hi to all those that had been able to make it to Kansas.

Mission accomplished…we got to Grandma on time!

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Do you have something going on that is turning out to be much different than what you had planned? How can you make the most of it? Is there a warm blanket, toasty fire or hot cup of tea that you could metaphorically add to make it better?

 

Component hiking-getting used to the backpack

Hiking the Volunteer Trail in Mt. Juliet
Hiking the Volunteer Trail in Mt. Juliet

The spot we chose for this bit of fun practice was Long Hunter State Park. We made our plan, packed the backpack and drove to 2910 Hobson Pike, Hermitage, TN 37076-4027. It is an easy trail that is about 11 miles long if you go all the way to the camp site at 5.5 miles. It runs along the edge of Couchville Lake with the water on your left or generally toward the west.

We use I-40 E and take the Mount Juliet exit (226). Then we head south on Mt Juliet Road (before you turn off of it the name will change to Hobson Pike). Watch on your right for some signs that make the way pretty well and turn left on Bakers Grove. Just about the time you get your truck straightened out you will need to turn left. This will take you about .5 miles to the trail head.

One of my favorite sources for info in our area is Cloud Hiking.  They have an awesome map of this trail and a really detailed section by section description of what to expect. If you are into blazes (I use them religiously) the trail we took was blazed white and the day loop is orange.

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The lake shore is very rocky in places. This made for a great place to eat out lunch.

In the parking lot we pretended that we were going to be gone overnight, went through the check list of activities in our heads and loaded our packs…well I had a large pack and she carrier a little day pack for this practice adventure.  After a bug spray experiment, we hiked the first .5 mile or so to the intersection where the day loop goes left. It circles around counter clock wise for 4 miles back to this intersection. It is only .7 or this day loop, however, to a great picnic spot with a nice view of the lake. You would only have to carry your picnic basket a total of 1.2 miles each way.

Go to the right like we did and it is 5 more miles to the camp site. From the parking lot to the camp site and back is 11 miles. Add a mile of the pavement out and back for a pretty decent practice 1/2 marathon that I used when getting ready for the Music City Marathon. The reasonably level trail makes the practice much more fun for me than the blacktop.

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Some prickly pear beside the trail.

In the camp site at the end of this 5.5 miles I’ve camped with some buddies a couple of times. I loved the abundant dry cedar dead wood. Both times there were plenty of fallen limbs for a decent fire. Nice benches and a fire ring make for some nice amenities in an other wise primitive camp site.

My Honey and I used this trail to do a little component backpacking on this trip. We have a couple of epic trips we want to take but like writing or anything else, you have to start at the beginning and prepare.  My Honey works out this idea in the world of writing at  cowriterpro.com. We needed to work out a lot of kinks in backpacking—one at a time. We have learned that to try too many new things at one time is a disaster.  This day hike was about getting used to a backpack.

Since I had always hiked with the guys and everybody packed to be self sufficient with only the occasional sharing of some kitchen supplies, I was experimenting with just adding her things to a complete pack. My Honey carried a few things in a hydration pack and got used to the idea of and the practice of getting anything else she needed out of the big pack.

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Just a hydration pack today

She was accustomed to carrying a large bag with most day use things handy in that bag no matter what was on her back.  So we practiced by eating a meal and by setting up a hammock camp for a quick nap and then loading it all up again.  It was a good learning experience for both of us and we just had a good time being outside together.

We learned that we both have to carry a real backpack. I can take a larger portion of the weight but she has to have at least a 30 liter pack too. Even if we got a 90 liter pack for me, it might all fit but the weight would be more than I could carry and still have fun…pack mule doesn’t work well as my middle name!

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My Honey soaking up the sun and resting her toes by Couchville Lake

We soaked up a lot of sun and had lunch on the rocky shore of Couchville Lake. We reclined luxuriously together in a hammock under a dense canopy for a little nap. We got some good exercise, practiced a component of backpacking and headed home when it got dark.

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Stopping for the simple details that make it special

Mission accomplished. Next trip-new lesson-repeat. we don’t really care how long it takes to master all the skills and get on with the epic trips as long as we are making progress. We build concept and skill on concept and skill. We are up to a week of camping—hiking combos from base camps and/or two nights in a row of primitive backpacking…and enjoying our progress.

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Pondering your path—what big thing do you want to do? From hike the grand canyon to making an elaborate quilt filled with childhood memories to a long vacation through the castles of Europe…what component could you practice first? How could you make an enjoyable small project be a step toward completing the whole?

As Jesus once said, “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it?” Then break the plan down in pieces and practice them one at a time.

Longing for the Spring

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Justin, Andrea, Loral and I at the Trail Head in Spring of 2015

It’s hot in Tennessee right now and I am enjoying it but really missing the Spring…I’m a bit nostalgic actually about a particular spring when we got to take a trip in 2015 with my daughter Andrea and her husband Justin. They are leaving Tennessee soon to go to Texas to seminary and they will be missed for so many reasons including the hiking.

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Me and my Honey—the monkey and the snail

I’m remembering a fun afternoon hike we did on House Mountain in Corryton TN. Justin gets all the credit for how well it turned out because he picked the spot. We were layered up a little because it was chilly standing still but a bit warm while climbing. The route changes elevation pretty quickly—I’m guessing about 1000 feet up over about .8 of a mile. The extra layer came on and off every time we stopped to see a pretty view or just to stop and visit.

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What a gorgeous view…and the scenery is not bad either:)

House Mountain State Natural Area is the official name and there is a great write up on it at backpacker.com. The entire loop is 3.7 miles but we took the middle trail to the ridge line and back down because of time for a total of 1.6 miles.

It is just NorthEast of Knoxville and depending on where you are in Knoxville it could be as little as a 20 minute drive. You take I-40 E out of Knoxville to Rutledge Pike then left on Iduema and then left on Hogskin parking on right.

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Starting a hike together—this day on the trail—soon on the highway going west

We loved the rock features and the views. I have to take my Honey back again to do the complete trail and honestly I need to go again to see the scenery. I was having such a good time talking and laughing with family that I don’t actually remember a lot of it. Sometimes these trips where you can’t remember the trail are the best kind. I was there for the fellowship and the trail just made a good setting for it. To focus on the relationship when we are hiking with someone else especially family is something we have learned to do.

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You never know when you will get to do it again—so cherishing the time together when you have it is a must!

 

3 Kinds of Debriefing after a Hike

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Sunset on Period Key—we try to work in a sunset every day on the trail.

1. Literally de-brief—we remove all clothing at the door and put them directly into the washing machine. This is a good practice that we didn’t always do. One time after a hike I was babysitting my then three month old granddaughter, Blakely. When my daughter returned and picked Blakely up from my arms, she noticed there was a tick crawling on her blanket. “Great,” I said, “I’ve given Blakely her first tick!”

This event helped to establish the habit my Honey and I now have. We put the clothes in the wash, check each other for ticks and get in the shower.  This process is super overkill but it even takes care of the bugs you might feel that aren’t really there—it’s a phantom feeling because you know they could be.

2. Debrief in the sense of the after action report—what happened, what did you like most and what would you like to change if you could. Read more about how to do this in writing at my Honey’s business blog cowriterpro.com. While the trip is the freshest thing in your memory, talk about it. My Honey and I purposefully use language that is uplifting or constructive. We try to repeat the good things or at least add them to a list of things to repeat. On the flip side we try to eliminate what we weren’t as fond of or figure out how to minimize any problems.

A positive point might be seeing waterfalls and getting in the water. This is a big hit with my Honey. We repeat seeing waterfalls as often as possible. Going slowly enough to see the details of the trail and enjoy the moment is a definite. We pick mileage and sleeping sites that allow us to enjoy the details. This, of course, requires a good map each time. Seeing the sunset each evening is also a must.  Make your list of what really makes the trail awesome for her.

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Enjoying the spray from Fall Creek Falls. This is a definite repeat for us.
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Having a good map is a real positive for us.

An opportunity for improvement in debriefing came after one of our first trips where we slept in a tent. The thing we liked the least was how Loral’s sleep was interrupted by the night noises. We can’t change that we sleep in the dark at night, however, we can mitigate. We discussed simply getting used to it. There are night noises in your house too but your mind filters them out because they belong. They are not signs of danger. When we introduce a new sound the mind has to define it as an ok sound first before we can sleep through it. Then we worked on education—what made the noise and is that dangerous. We discussed trying to be more tired, using ear plugs or a white noise app with earphones. We talked about stretching the tent more tightly so that it made less noise in the wind.

Do an honest assessment like this for each issue. The goal is to keep her enjoying the trip. If she looks forward to what was fun and can anticipate improvement of what she wasn’t as fond of, she is more likely to stay on the trail with you. You like the trail and will go back even if you were soaked, hungry and slept on a rock. She might not—so debrief with real results.

3. The third and final kind of debriefing is also literal. You are home now in a soft bed—you figure it out. I hope you have fun loving on each other out on the trail too, but you are back in your own love nest…get some sleep and celebrate the comfort.

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What are some lovable repeats? opportunities for improvement? I’d love to hear your story.

Details of the Trail

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Delight in the Details—cold clear water…SPLASH!

When I mainly hiked with my guy friends, we would plan mileage and time frames that would really push us—sometimes punish us. We seem to have a better estimate of our physical ability than was real. Getting deep into the woods was so important to the experience…so we would fly though the woods over many miles because we we always short on time. There was usually a cheerful shot out in the human caravan where Von might say, “Man, it would be awesome if we had enough time to actually enjoy this!” And we’d bat around ideas about how we might be able to do that. Or in a particularly tired moment Ralph might let out a pithy quip, “I’m not in any hurry, where’s the fire.”

I was about to do a close up when I realized that everybody was home!
I was about to do a close up when I realized that everybody was home!

Did we have fun? You bet we did! Did we miss a lot of the details? Well, that’s true too.IMG_3308 (1)

Over time, we developed a better sense for what we could do comfortably. And with better knowledge of the trails we planned in more time. Randy would point out, “This will be like a different trail when we do this in the winter.” He point across the valley at an enormous Hemlock tree and say, “Come here, this is beautiful—look at that!” The details were so varied from one season to another that it was a new unique experience but we still missed so much of the beauty.

Mushrooms so pretty they could be flower
Mushrooms so pretty they could be flower

How do we see more details? My Honey changed the pace. My buddy Walt told me, “She will change your life forever!”

IMG_3436 (1)Most of my hiking now is with my Honey and we go much slower. As a direct result we both take in great detail. She and I see things the other does not and share them. We stop and take lots of pictures and examine the little things as well as imagining how there must be 1400 different shades of green on a mountain side. I can’t wait to hike some more with my buddies and share this new skill.

Is Papa Smurf home?
Is Papa Smurf home?

Recently when we were at Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee, we met Wes and Olivia and became new friends. Olivia said, “I used to hike fast until I started hiking with Wes—he sees every detail.” He responded, “It’s the details of the trail that make it worth while.”

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Wearing his bright yellow boots!
Wearing his bright yellow boots!

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Are you happy with what you get to see when you hike? Could you hike the same trail again more slowly just to see the details?

Frozen Head State Park – Tennessee

 

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We rolled in around 5 pm to Frozen Head State Park – Tennessee

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The Ranger’s office was closed but Ranger Joe saw us studying the map, stopped his mower, jumped down and came to see if he could help.  He let us in to use the bathroom and he answered our questions. He said, “Emory Falls is the best short hike for this time of day”. “It’s a 3 mile round trip.”

I asked where there was a good primitive campsite at the highest elevation where we would have a cool summer night. He pointed out Tub Spring camp because it was around 3,000 feet in elevation and it had a real spring. So even in the summer when the seasonal water was gone, there would be water at this site. “We hope to go there this summer,” I told him. He headed back to his mower and we went to follow his advise.

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So happy to be out of the car and on the trail.  We were coming back from Knoxville so we had our hiking legs cooped up for a couple of hours.

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Debord Falls at about .6 miles down the Panther Branch Trail. Down in volume from the spring time but still fun to see.

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My Honey reaching for a bit of refreshment! I love that she has unleashed her desire to be in the water. We plan to always take water shoes and bathing suits from now on. It would have been fun to wade in and splash around a bit.

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Having fun under Debord Falls! Kind of like a photo booth…with water.

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A cairn marking the way for something. It was in the middle of the creek no where near the trail. Maybe someone wanted the water to know where to go when it comes back after the next rain.  Cairn proved to be valuable for me in Yosemite in the granite fields. There is no sign of a trail so you just look for the next Cairn.

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Back out to the Panther Branch Trail for .4 more miles to Emory Falls.

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Love this root art along the way!

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My Honey looking up at me from the bottom of Emory Falls.

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Pausing for a moment of worship.

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Back at the truck we found new beauty unfolding.

One more example of seizing the moment. We had just a few hours but there was a trail near by. We wanted to do so much more but we will go back. We had heard that this is like the Great Smoky Mountains Nation Park but without the crowds. The elevation is about half of the Smoky Mountains but the trails, bridges and water falls are just like the Smokies. If you had blindfolded me and started me on this trail with our knowing where I was, you could have told me it was a new trail in the Great Smoky Mountains Nation Park.

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Seize the day, seize whatever you can 
‘Cause life slips away just like hourglass sand” Carolyn Arends

 

 

Fall Creek Falls Tennessee State Park—Part 2

In yesterday’s blog I got to share Fall Creek Falls Tennessee State Park—Part 1 and how we crossed the suspension bridge and climbed the 70 stairs. How we meet and talked with our new friends, Wes and Olivia. After a few well spent minutes we stepped back onto the Gorge Trail chattering back and forth about what we had just learned and how we could share this wisdom.IMG_3370 (1)

We hiked the 1.2 mile Gorge Trail and stopped at all three of the open overlooks and passed on by the closed one that is letting nature restore herself.  The Gorge Trail then intersects with the Grassland Trail. We turned right to go up to the overlook at the Falls parking and down the .5 mile trail to the bottom of the falls.

IMG_3465Before we went down, we stopped and my Honey fueled up with a gel pack of Isagenix Amped Fuel Apple (visit our exercise performance store at http://HikingWithYourHoney.isagenix.com  I saved mine for the bottom and got a zip back in my zoom for the climb out.

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Fuel for the trail—Amped Fuel Apple—Zoom!

Hydrated and fueled we eagerly began the strenuous climb to the bottom of the falls.  There is a hand rail most of the way if you need to steady yourself.

IMG_3522Wow! We looked up 256 feet to the top of the falls and wrestled with thoughts of getting in the water. There were some swimming and we wanted to get in but had not brought swim suits, water shoes or towels.  From now on we will carry those supplies to every water fall just in case.

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Rover says, “how I’m gonna get down?”

There was a daughter and daddy up on a large bolder with their dog and he looked like he was saying, “woof, how am I going to get down off of this rock, bark.” They had lifted him up there but he finally settled in for a nap.

IMG_3537About that time Loral stands up and announces, “I’m going!”  “Up the slippery rocks to the falls,” I asked.  With the determination of a general at war and the glee of a girl in a toy store she said, “I didn’t come all the way down here to miss the water falls now.”IMG_3547 (2)

She almost scampered over the dry rocks at first and then slowed to carefully pick the best footing. Showing accumulated hiking skills she bear crawled in places and scooted on her bottom in others. Carefully—remembering the fall on the ice so many years ago in Chicago—but with determination to experience the prize, she inched along.IMG_3548

Reaching out her right hand to touch the falling water she faced me across the pool under the falls and giggled with delight. Moments later the flow of the water shifted just slightly at the top and she was now laughing hysterically as the water completely soaked her with refreshing coldness.

My Honey is a writer and an editor for real—for a living—and compares hiking to writing in a fun blog called, Why Write? Write to Go on a Journey.  Well put Honey! I just read it and there are some great parallels!

IMG_3497I climbed over and joined her for a few happy wet moments. Up, up, up the .5 mile trail to the top of the falls. We stopped in two places where the mountain splits to feel the earths cold moist air rushing out and refreshing us.

IMG_3485 (1)After we crossed the wobbly wooden bridge on Coon Creek and the really solid one over Fall Creek, we turned right on the Woodland Trail. It is an easy stroll for .8 miles back to the Nature Center. My honey was soaked to the bone and speed walked like “Grease Lightning” most of the way back to the top of the stairs. Back down the stairs and across the suspension bridge to complete the 3 mile journey. IMG_3519

I asked her on the way home what she felt under the falls. She said that it was so exhilarating. I asked what made it exhilarating—expecting a list like how the water was cold and refreshing or how the water pelted her skin or maybe how good it felt to be able to climb safely to that spot.  Instead, she said dreamily, “It felt so good to feel the love of God pouring over me. To know that I am receiving His blessings and that just like this falling creek, there is so much more in store for us in our future!” That’s well said, Honey!

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When you’ve put out a sizable effort, do you make sure that you get the most out of the moment? We’d come all that way and my Honey wasn’t going to miss that water falls experience—do you have a story to tell where you “soaked” up the whole experience?

Fall Creek Falls Tennessee State Park—Part 1

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Fall Creek Falls Overlook

Today my honey and I went to Fall Creek Falls State Park on our way back from Frozen Head State Park yesterday. We came in to the park from the north entrance and stopped at what looked like a main visitor center. We went directly to an overlook and got to talk to another visitor about good ideas for the day.

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Cane Creek Falls Overlook

We went inside the Betty Dunn Nature Center and gather more good trail information.  What we had just enjoyed was the Cane Creek Falls Overlook right beside the Nature Center. This is just off of the parking lot. Then we walked down to Cane Creek Falls. Both of these are enjoyable and can be seen in just a few minutes if you are just passing through.

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Cane Creek Falls

We settled into the 3 mile adventure that we now had planned by crossing the suspension and climbing up 70 stairs to get on to the Gorge Trail. It is 1.2 miles of a 2 mile loop that would eventually take us past Cane Creek Overlook, Cane Creek Gorge Overlook, Fall Creek Falls Overlook and the now closed Rocky Point Overlook.

At the top of the 70 steps we met Wes and Olivia from Middleton Ohio. They are a wonderful couple in their 70’s who encouraged us to keep hiking. Wes said, “I like to hike with my Honey.”  When we took our picture together, they were so cute – Olivia was a bit apologetic about how the picture of her might turn out but Wes declared, “You take a good picture.”

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Hiking septuagenarian’s Wes and Olivia – sharing tips about life and hiking with me and my Honey

As we lost ourselves in conversation Olivia shared the importance of a good system of give and take to make a marriage work. They have both been married before and are now working on year 26 with each other-thankful to God for the blessing of each other. She said, “Nobody is perfect but if you focus on the positive things it makes it work.”  It is interesting that when we are their age range we will have been married 26 years too.

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A mushroom that I had never seen before. Picture taken at Frozen Head State Park

She used to be a fast hiker like me but when she started hiking with Wes, she slowed down because he is like my Honey in that he likes to see every detail. I got to share this detail from our Frozen Head hike the day before:

They shared how they had met a couple in their 80’s while hiking in the Smokies.  Olivia advised, “If you will take good care of your bodies and make good food choices, you’ll probably pass us up and hike for 40 more years.”  They projected that if they could be having a good time on the trail in their 70’s that we might pass them up in hiking longevity. We left our encounter encouraged by like minded new friends. We left motivated to take care of ourselves so that we can be hiking in our 90’s like Olivia promised to pray that we would.

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For this porting of the trail, we went out the Gorge Overlook and came back Woodland

Tomorrow, I’ll share the rest of our discoveries and some beautiful scenery shots from Fall Creek Falls.

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When you are out exploring the world, could it be that you will meet an encouraging new friend? I challenge you to stop and chat—see what happens:)