Tag Archives: Tennessee

Learning to Deal with the Oopsies on the Trail

A very special place my husband had always wanted to take a lady before we met! Being here made all the oopsies worth it!
A very special place my husband had always wanted to take a lady before we met! Being here made all the oopsies worth it!

Guestpost by Loral Pepoon (Honey)

Today was kind of a crazy day on the trail. It seemed like we couldn’t get it together—and things kept going wrong—the whole day was like that.

It was a spontaneous visit to one of my husband’s favorite state parks, Montgomery Bell, which is about 45 minutes from our house here in Franklin, Tennessee. We have been so busy that we haven’t been out there for a couple of weeks now, and we were missing it. We are going to be with family the next two weekends, so we knew today was the day to go—so we went for it.

First, I forgot my hiking boots. This mistake happened because of something I recommend doing—taking flip flops in the car to change your shoes, so that you can keep your feet more comfortable in the car. The downside to that strategy is that you can forget them! The saving grace of the day is that I kept my old hiking boots in the car for emergencies, so I had a pair. But my socks were less than ideal and my feet are screaming at me.

Second, we didn’t have enough water. Now as I write this, I still have an awful headache. Bring way more than you think you need—always. My husband planned the right amount for the distance he thought we were going, which was 3 miles, but that wasn’t the actual distance.

Third, the actual distance was two miles longer than we thought at 5 miles. We had to really had to ration our water.

Luckily, my Hiker has learned to be flexible and change the game plan when mistakes happen.

Here are the ways we fixed the situation and some blessings we experienced anyway.

We altered our course and went back on a main road instead of a trail. This action helped my feet and the water situation. It saved us distance and it was still beautiful despite the asphalt roads. And we learned some history about the trail that we wouldn’t have known otherwise.

I still got to see a special shelter that my husband had always dreamed of bringing His Honey to before he had met me. He loved showing me it, and I loved seeing it. We talked about how we could come again when we had more time…we had to get back to complete this 30-day blog challenge!

It had cooled down substantially by later in the day when we were walking back. Being out in the early evening in the summer in Tennessee just before the sunset is really pleasant in the shade.

We saw many lovely deer, who graced us with their presence. This particular park doesn’t seem to have as much underbrush as many other trails in the area. Consequently, you can see for much greater distances, and the deer were in sight longer!

We still had our nutritional supplements even though we were short on water. I felt like I was going to pass out before we had Amped from Isagenix. We love this stuff. We like it so much that we are distributors of it. Seth has used many “goos” in his days of running, and he thinks it’s one of the best products out there. I know that it gives us the get up and go to keep going, with pure, natural ingredients and no side effects.

We found a few ticks, but removed them without incident. It helps to check each other thoroughly.

We had a flat tire, and we were starving craving burgers after the hike. Right when we had to stop, the gas station with a working air machine also had a Back Yard Burgers in it! We had just prayed that God would keep us safe and that He would provide a solution!

Now we are home, and overly tired but thankful that we still were together and protected, and had a new, special experience—despite the oopsies.

With every mistake, you have the opportunity to make something beautiful!

If you have a story to share about what you learned in a blog, article or book, I’d love to help you. I’ve been helping corporations, small businesses and authors get their messages out for nearly 20 years—and I can help you too! Visit cowriterpro.com for information, and feel free to contact me  if you’d like to have a conversation!

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.

Fantastical Fireflies—His Perspective

 

If you want to see a fantastical phenom, win a pass to go see the synchronous fireflies in the Great Smokey Mountain National Forest just behind Elkmont Campground. It is like walking into C.S.Lewis’s Narnia gone SciFi. It was whimsical, magical, spectacular, awe inspiring. We walked in expecting something grand and God did not disappoint! What a cool creation!

Several years ago I hiked up to Mount Leconte by myself and sat on the side of the mountain. It was raining so I sat on the back edge of my poncho, pulled my knees up to my chest and sat dozing in the twilight bliss of the rain splattering on my hood. One of the things that was dancing in my mind was wanting to see these fireflies I had heard so much about. I decided that I would get back here to see them the next year.

One thing led to another and year after year went by and I didn’t make it.  This year I was determined to get in and was foiled once again by my timing. You see, the park only gave out 1800 passes this year for viewers and the lottery had closed already when I logged on.  They give out 225 for each of the 8 days of the event and we missed it again!

“Ok,” I said to my Honey, “we are going anyway.” “The fireflies don’t know when the event is and they don’t know they have to mate in this one spot.” So we decided to go near the date of the park event or during it but come down the trail from a primitive campground nearby. I began calling different ranger stations to gather intel about which trail might lead through potential firefly viewing locations and what primitive site was near by. It became obvious that we would be spending a long night on the trail hiking with headlamps out and back from a primitive site and those were booking up fast too.

Discouraged, I tried one more time on a “oh wouldn’t it be nice if” moment and logged on to try to book at Elkmont Campground  in a car camping campsite. What to my bleary eyes did appear? Two sites for one night each during the event! I quickly booked one of them. I told the reservation form that we would have two cars and five people just in case my daughter, Andrea, her husband, Justin,  and our granddaughter, Blakely—that live there—could at least come up and picnic with us.

The visit turned out well too because they had just taken our granddaughter, who was five-months-old at the time,  camping the weekend before and they all loved it. She would now be coming camping for the second time in her first six months with us! They brought a tent and some supplies and met us there.

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I have the baby and everybody else is setting up camp…hehehe!

We pitched a 16’ Kelty Noah’s Tarp as an artificial sky and then pitched both tents, set up chairs and a briefcase picnic table under it. It rained and rained and rained…but cleared up long enough for us to go see the fireflies—just one more “coincident” number three. With baby Blakely in a shoulder supported carrier we  went looking for the fantastic.

Around 9:30 as it really got dark the display picked up tremendous energy. If they had been musicians in a symphony it would have been the New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein performing Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man (I was really into that sort of thing in the 80’s). It was jaw dropping awesome. My Honey picked up on the rhythm on the fireflies right away and would quietly count 5,4,3,2,1 and for about 8 secs they would flash like crazy and suddenly go dark…5,4,3,2,1 and bam! they would light up the woods again like 4th of July sparklers gone Fern Gully!

We came out of there stary-eyed and in awe of God’s creation one more time. Wow!

For my Honey’s perspective read her guest blog here:) It’s really good:)!!

Here is a video of a Ranger telling about the event.

Here is a time lapse video of the event one night.

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Pondering Your Path—could there be a little firefly in your life that is really putting on a spectacular show? Definitely go see these guys like we did but don’t miss the spectacular little things that are just as star studded if you look closely enough.

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!

 

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?

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:)

5 Reasons Not to Hike—Just Table it for Later

 

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The Blue Bird Barn in Seven Islands Birding Park

What? Those that know me well will wonder if I bumped my head. What’s was wrong with me…was I really having a moment when I questioned going on a hike??!! Well, yes, I did. T.A.B.L.E. it, I thought:

I’m too Tired

It’s too Abstract

I’m too Busy

It’s too Limited

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Joy in overcoming hollow excuses

I’m too Energetic

Too Tired—I’m too tired and I just want to lay here. You too might like to hike but today you think you just need so sit to recover.

Too Abstract—Taking a chance on a trail that I don’t know I’ll like is just too abstract. I want to do only the kind of hike that’s really me. If it doesn’t sound really interesting to you, you too might not want to waste your time.

Too Busy—I’m too busy and I can’t fit one more thing into this trip. You might be on a trip that is so full with planned family and friend stops that you just can’t fit in any exercise.

Too Limited—2.5 hours? That’s not enough time to enjoy it. It’s 30 minutes each way and we’d only have about an hour to spend on the trail when we get there. You might feel like it’s not worth doing unless there is more time on your trip.

Too Energetic—I’m too energetic to move that slowly today. I want to see beauty and smell the flowers but it’s just too slow. You might feel like you have to really get up and go when you’re outside. You’ve got calories to burn and muscles to grow.

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Beautiful scenery – sunset, river, farms and birds, birds, birds

These are some of the excuses I made last night and I’ve heard others make them too. There are times when these are legitimate reasons but sometimes like I did, you might need to just blow away the excuses and take action.

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Is this a bird rocket ship!

Yesterday, when we went to the Seven Islands State Birding Park, I overcame some of these. I was tired. I didn’t know if a good place to watch birds was going to be a good hiking place. We were already booked for the day. We did only have 3 hours that we finally carved out. And I really was feeling that if I was going to exercise that I needed to run.

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A ground hog wobbling down the grass mowed trail

But wait, I thought…it is my fondest connection to nature with my Honey. We also didn’t know when we would be back this way again this year. I took the risk that maybe all of these thought were just empty excuses…maybe we shouldn’t TABLE it…we should go anyway!

The experience proved that I was wrong about “TABLEing” the idea and that it was right to go. Going to Seven Islands State Birding Park was the right thing to do . These thoughts from our experience might help you the next time you feel sluggish and despondent about doing the thing you know you really love.

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Stopping to smell the flowers

Not Too Tired—when we made the decision to go, something happened inside me like it always does. I got like a dog dancing at the front door when he knows it’s time for a walk. There is an energy that comes for me when the decision is made. The eager anticipation of what might happen begins to rise like the sun in my soul. As we began stretching out our legs in long strides up the first incline, physical energy woke up in me. My brain started doing its job of releasing all the happy and helper hormones that start during exercise.

Not Too Abstract—I prefer to have some advance knowledge that the trail will be my kind of place but do I really need concrete advanced knowledge to go outdoors with my pretty girl? It was not the traditional hiking trail but it was miles of unique mowed grass paths that I enjoyed this time at least as much as I do the usual dirt trail.

Not Too Busy—Many times I find that when I just take action, the important things will all fit. Not everything will fit ever – but only the most important things will fit when I work the priority list from the top down. We got there, spent the time we had and got back in time. The old line is tired but fits here – if you wait for all the lights to be green before you leave home, you will never leave. It’s a rare opportunity when life rolls out the red carpet and invites you to go hiking with your Honey. You just have to take action.

Not Too Limited—There was enough time to picnic, take pictures, see unusual scenery, watch happy animals, experience a sunset, believe the promise of God’s rainbow, laugh, talk, imagine, dream, exercise, and be together. We had a total of two hours in the park and we filled them with memories.

Not Too Energetic—I totally forgot about wanting to run. I carried chairs, a hydration pack and picnic supplies. This gave me an elevated heart rate that was all I really needed for the evening. I was truly tired and needed to be careful no to injury tired muscles anyway.

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Energized to see a new world – Loral in wonderland

I am still surprised that I had any resistance to a hiking idea. I have spent so many resources making the trail inviting to my Honey. I have her on the trail with me – she loves it now – so how could I have a negative thought?

I had a negative thought because of what I call dusty brain. Some of my frowning gut reactions are real, but most are just dust.  Dust from too many mental building projects at the same time. As I blew away the dust, the best results emerged!IMG_3099

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Do you have some wimpy excuses for not getting outside with your Honey? Are there any simmering ideas that could be great actions if you would just blew away the dusty excuses? Could you take action and see the dust fly away in the winds of a good time?