Tag Archives: trail

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?

Seven Islands State Birding Park

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the rainbow that we saw as we entered the park

I love this little park! It reminded me of my childhood when I would spend hours walking through the field on neighbor’s farms. The acres and acres of meadows were full of birds.  The views of the French Broad River and a small pond were both worth stopping to see.

We started at the Blue Bird barn at the entrance. There are two picnic table in the barn if you want to picnic there. We brought two small chairs and wanted to eat with a grand view so we kept going.

We had to choose to either go on the 1.2 mile paved greenway that looked really nice or follow one of the more than 8 miles of mowed grass trails that wind around the refuge. We choose a quarter mile short cut to the ridge to try to catch the sunset from up there.

Once we got on the ridge we enjoyed the mowed trail. The grass is cut pretty short and the path is wide. We followed it past several bird houses and picked a spot to picnic near a bench under a Hack Berry tree.

We saw a couple of ground hogs – followed one of them down the trail for about 40 yards. Lots of rabbits and a few deer. My Honey got to see her first view of white tail deer loping in big arches through deep grass. They were bounding high and flipping their white tails. We marveled at how many bird calls we heard and how many birds there were going about their business. It was much like early morning in the country. I can’t even imagine how loud it is there in the morning.

The paved trail is mostly flat and the mowed trails have enough change in elevation to make me work a little but over all it is a moderate walk. Location: 2809 Kelly Lane Kodak, Tennessee 37764 – It’s off of I-40 East exit 402 just past Knoxville for us (we were traveling east from Nashville). In just about 4 miles from the interstate – there it is. These last four miles are very narrow roads. A large port-a-potty at the entrance is the only facility.

This was worth seeing! If we lived near by, it would be a regular daily exercise place.

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Have you been to a park recently? Would you share your experience with us?

Why Do I Want My Honey on the Trail With Me?

Today, as I read my Honey’s blog that she posted last night at cowriterpro.com – her business site, I felt inspired to answer this question in the title of today’s blog. Here is what my quotable Queen said in her blog:IMG_2982

“So what can I do, today, to affect the spreading of love with a skill that I love—the skill of writing. I can encourage you to write to those you love. To tell them how important they are to you. To tell them that they are loved. Tell them about the two or three memories that you treasure. Tell them about how they made you laugh. Edit the part out about how they made you cry. Tell them about the good now because tomorrow isn’t promised. And Forgive.”

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Just knowing she’s there

There are many positive things I could say in response to this advice. I will try to only address why having her on the trail with me is so special – choosing to address just this part – because after all, this blog is about Hiking With Your Honey.

She makes the trail real.

I still like to hike with an athletic bent for speed and conditioning but I love hiking with my Honey because she sees every butterfly, snail, flower and water fall.  Now I SEE the real forest and the trees – through her eyes and mine. One day at Henry Horton State Park  I watched with joy as Loral stopped dead in her tracks to watch five butterflies. I laughed as I watched her try to follow them all with her head and eyes. She was the cutest bobble head ever.

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Bobble Head Honey watching butterflies

I love what we talk about

The deep thoughts and the superficial chatter. To hear her laughter and to watch her be silly. One night we hiked back in to the car and drove to near by Pensacola to have a nice meal and she dressed up in the beach bath house because she wanted to feel pretty. After dinner I had a hard time keeping up as she ran along the beach in her bare feet splashing in the surf, laughing, dancing, spinning and giggling at herself for this silly wonderful display.

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So happy spinning in the surf

And then I love her presence

Just being together quietly swinging in a hammock, sitting on a log eating snacks and looking out over a lake, snuggling by a fire. On our second night primitive camping on the beach on Perdido Key I woke up over and over because the moon was so bright. Waking up was magical though because each time I would marvel that she was there with me – sleeping peacefully in the gulf breeze.

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Just a swingin’

Loral Pepoon, I love you! I’m putting it in writing and giving it to you! Three happy thoughts with three special memories. Thanks for the inspiring post:-)

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Could you stop, write down an “I love you” thought, story or tender tribute? Then give it to the object of that affection? Sure you can – give it a try –  It doesn’t have to be eloquent, cute or funny – just be real and make it permanent:-) Who will the loved one be?

6 Tips to Hike Backcountry

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Awesome beautiful and way back in the sticks!

We recently got the privilege of helping some friends build trails on their very large tract of wilderness land. Being backcountry was a blast! We ate good, slept hard and boy did we work!

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My Honey all gloved up for hard work!

As my Honey and I were contemplating in the glow of the event we began to put together some things we have learned from this and other adventures on backcountry or undeveloped land. I’d like to share those with you. I hope you will comment below and tell us your tips or experiences.

  1. Wear Pants

I’ve been reading to prepare for a beach camping trip and my Honey discovered an alert in the reviews –to our surprise– that there was a clothing optional beach near by. In the light of that discovery I need to clarify that I don’t presume that any of my readers would simply not wear pants but that you might venture on to some undeveloped land in shorts. Shorts will open you up for many more bug bites and lots of potential cuts and scrapes. When you are moving along a trail that is little contact with insects and many trails are free of undergrowth and falling forest debris. In the backcountry, you are making your own way through the undergrowth. Also go with light weight fabric-its harder work getting around which generates much more heat. So wear long pants that are tough and light weight. I heat up very fast and have to be careful to keep all my clothes light and breath able in the summer. You can click the link above and see what my Honey wears.

Ticks are more prolific than you might think. Ticks wait in grass and on small saplings for a nice warm rodent to come by. Walking on undeveloped land will require you to brush through grasses and underbrush most of the time. This might keep you in constant contact with prime tick launching pads.  When we get home we put all we have on directly in the washing machine to help with critter control.  Speaking of critters at home – we moved into an old country house and the possums and raccoons brought fleas to our cat. You can read more about it in my wife’s blog at Clivethecat.com.

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Some close relative of this thorny vine can really tear up your ankle!

There may be some variety of vine with thorns.  In Tennessee we have a couple of different kinds of these. I find them with my ankles as I blaze my own trails, when light is low or when I’m looking excitedly at something ahead. I will inevitably walk right into a thorny vine leaving my ankles lacerated with blood anklets that sting. I suspect there is a little poison on those thorns because the scabs even sting for days. Wear long pants to avoid this.

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Cindy’s Suds Healing Salve – we take the little can on the trail!

If you do get cut by these thorny vines you could do what I did this last trip. I used Healing Salve made by Cindy’s Suds and it really helped. I applied it immediately on the thorn cuts. You can get it in a little tin that is perfect for hiking. I pretended it was waterless soap and just rubbed it in and all around – dirt, blood and all. That night I got to the shower and applied it after the shower too. To my surprise, the next morning, there was very little sting left in the cut. Normally the sting goes on for days. Healing Salve is great stuff.

2. Get permission

If it’s not yours, it’s not yours-enough said? I accidentally trespass from time to time because I explore and get in behind a “Posted” sign I didn’t see. I’m not talking about that – I mean that if you know you are going on land that is not yours, be sure to ask to develop good relations and hopefully long term access to this awesome bit of wilderness you’ve found.

Ask for gun range locations-no body knows like the owner. Being surprised downrange by a little target practice could be alarming. Plan your route up range even if you think you are the only visitor. Talk about hunting-find out what season it is. Ask if permission has been given to anybody to hunt and ask about the likelihood of poachers.

3. Go with someone

Avoid disorientation – getting disoriented is easy when you’re stooping, crawling and climbing to get around fallen trees and rock obstacles. It’s still possible to get lost when you can just walk and observe the surroundings but when you can’t pay attention constantly, it’s really easy to get lost.

Climb and scoot in pairs – climbing and scooting is sometimes a two man job-I explore alone when I want to feel like a pioneer like the famed Daniel Boone. But you can maneuver larger objects easier if one hoists the other up and the higher one pulls up the one left below.

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A quite restful place we found

4. Take extra water

You may get good information about water sources but don’t count on it. You don’t have the luxury of asking a ranger about a heavily traveled trail. Since the going is slower, you may not get to water as soon as you think. You may not run across any. Until you know the area and the weather, don’t count of natural occurring water sources.  If you find water, fill up with your filtering method no mater how much you think you have. It likely will take longer to get back to it and back to camp without a trail – so get it now.

5. It’s harder than it looks

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You might have to go as slow as this big guy

It is more difficult to get around than on the trail that is free of debris. Allow a minimum of 3 times longer to get anywhere. If, for example, you normally mosey along at about 2 miles an hour on a nice sight seeing trail, you may need three hours to go those 2 miles on undeveloped terrain. I once spent two hours to go a quarter of a mile. I was exploring a lake in Mississippi after hurricane Katrina and there was a fallen tree to work over or under every few feet. That was the most exhausting quarter mile ever. Pace your self because climbing and scooting requires almost as much energy as tromping through ankle deep snow or walking in sand.

6. Record latitude and longitude

Remember to remember! I love to explore and can easily go eagerly over the next knoll and forget to remember where I have been.  So, when I do this well, I drop a pin every 15 minutes or so on my map. Even if I’m out with just my phone and have a weak cell phone signal, I can still get latitude and longitude to show up. Then I do a screen shot to have a record to make notes when I get back to better signal.

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Cool air blew up through this “alley in the woods” and cooled us off.

How to get back-there is nothing better when you’re ready to return than to know how to get back home. Once we didn’t do this and walked for about 11 miles during eight hours of dark night looking for our truck. I would have paid a lot to have known my way back that night

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What are some tips we can add to our list? Please share!

When I Thought—She Might Be My Honey

I got a hunch on our third date that this lady might be the one. We had gone out for coffee at the Frothy Monkey on our first date. I took her to a Chaffin’s Barn dinner theater for our second. Now I wanted to see if she was for real about hiking and being outdoors.

One month later on another fun trail
One month later on another fun trail

Third Date—I called her up and asked if she would like to go to Edwin Warner Park near where she lived and hike. She responded eagerly which was a great sign for me. She had been there before and knew a perfect trail. I hoped she had experience there and believed it would be public enough for her to feel safe.  I was right and so pleased that she had recent hiking activity.

Exact Snack—Because I wanted to make it special, I asked her what she would like to snack on. She impressed me again when she was precise. No wishy washy response from this girl. No guessing at what she meant. She said that she would like raw unsalted almonds and organic raisins with filtered water. I had the almonds and water already. I snagged the raisins the day before the hike and was ready with my day pack.

Great First Trail—I picked her up at the gate where she was renting because the owner did not trust me with the code just yet. A few minutes later we were gearing up for a day hike in front of the Edwin Warner Nature Center. We walked and talked for a few wonderful hours. I didn’t want this to end…this might be the one. I pushed the envelope a little and asked what she did to develop a close relationship with God. She shared about her devotional life and that she had helped to lead a divorce care class. What a unique similarity—so had I! I was definitely going to pursue spending more time with her.

Healthy Dinner—It seemed obvious to me that neither of us wanted the date to end. I offered to take her to dinner and she accepted. We were starving and settled on the hot bar at Whole Foods. After we filled our dinner boxes with a wide variety of tasty healthy things, we went outside on the patio. The summer night was perfect and we talked on and on. This food choice was another sign that this developing friendship might be long term.IMG_0868

We are married now and pursuing our passions together. We are so blessed to abide in Christ together; to celebrate the outdoors together; and now to get to write together. I can hear the clicking sound of her fingers on her lap top from where I am writing my blog. She will probably beat me by publishing her blog first tonight but that is ok. I can’t wait to read her latest episode of Clive The Cat when I’m finished.

Pondering Your Path

Are you putting effort into making adventures special? Be a student of your lady—it pays off!

Building in Margin

Earth shaking power at Rock Island Falls
Earth shaking power at Rock Island Falls

When I hiked BL (before Loral), hiking was always an athletic event. Alone or with my buddies, I would push the limit of my physical ability doing lots of miles carrying 40-55 pounds. Now hiking with my Honey, we build in margin to allow for beholding beauty and investigation interesting interruptions.

Rock Island adventure—In Rock Island Tennessee there is a park that we now love, not only for the waterfalls but for the memories. We planned to visit three different kinds of waterfall environments and got three memorable interruptions in the package.

At Rock Island on the main overlook below the dam
At Rock Island on the main overlook below the dam

A nursing calf—I was so flexible on this particular soirée that we stopped at the ranger station first. We grabbed a map and listened carefully to the advice our young lady ranger had to offer. Before we got to the first waterfall we passed a cow pasture. My darling got excited because she thought she glimpsed a calf nursing. We pulled over and walked back to where she saw this tender site. I was really enjoying her child like wonder—she had never witnessed a calf nursing. We stood hand in hand looking over a vine covered fence at mama and her baby. The calf would gently head-but her mama’s utter and then drink for a while. This was something normal for me and I really didn’t see it when we drove by.  I mean, I saw a calf nursing but I didn’t see a mama loving her child. We gave quiet homage to God’s glory in creation. We had built in margin.

Powerful earthshaking falls—touched and now eager to see the falls, we finished the winding miles to the biggest falls where the force of the falls shook the ground. We liked this site but it was completely domestic—pedestrian and paved. Without ruining the moment we left for the trail where we could do a few miles and see more falls. Through the trees we could see a spectacular group of cascades on the other side of the river pouring down probably 70 feet into the banks.

Little Falls—almost skipped this one…little sign about little falls on an off shoot trail…glad we didn’t miss it…wet and slippery but unique. Over the top of a small cave ran a little water fall. We explored the cave and took turns looking through a port hole sized opening in the rock on to the forrest below.

Break time on a cliff—About three quarters of the way around the loop trail we were on, my love got more adventurous. Out over the river was an outcropping that just begged us to come sit down for a while. We carefully picked a spot and watched the swilling churning river down below. The beauty came from the power and speed of the river. Had we not built in margin we could not have stopped this long for an inspiring break.

Fog Light restaurant—The third thing our built in margin allowed us to do was to find this new really good restaurant. We weren’t looking for a restaurant…just a bathroom. In the bend of the narrow blacktop there was a sign that said Fog Light. No way this could be a restaurant out here? But it had to be one by the condition and location of the sign. We went to the porch and approached a man using a grill. He turned out the be the chef and owner. He let us use the restroom and invited us back at 5pm when they were open for dinner. He suggested we get there early and boy was it good that we did. We arrived at 4:45 and by 5:00 there were 60 plus people in line behind us. This crowd filled the restaurant instantly when the doors opened and the food was upscale foodie kind of good. With margin built in we were able to eat in a Chicago quality restaurant in the middle of nowhere!

The view from our table at Fog Light
The view from our table at Fog Light

Keep the flow loose we now say. Make plans that include real details and timeframes to satisfy the German in both of us but leave margin for our creative French natures. The level of enjoyment has shot up as we have learned to build in margin.

Do you schedule your day and your fun times so tightly that the least interruption causes you stress? Can you stop for 10 minutes to talk to a neighbor without being late for an important deadline? When you stop and smell the roses does it create stress because you know you “should” be somewhere else? What one thing could you do to build in margin to let a little joy leak in?

For more insights on life and enjoying the interruptions read my wife’s blog—Clive the Cat. She shares what our cat Clive is thinking about human behavior and how his wisdom applies.

Exploring Nooks and Crannies

Spectacular views and cozy moments come while discovering nooks and crannies—those out of the way places and small tiny spaces. IMG_1432

We keep our eyes open for places to feel cozy. Places where we can snuggle up together for a picture or take fun shots of each other. We enjoy stopping in a place just the right size to get out of the sun and rest a little while. Sometimes we stop to get in out of the rain. My Honey is really cooperative with my excessive photo snapping. Ladies, your guy might really like the way you look in all states of trail disarray. There is something meaningful about you struggling with him to get to a perfect spot. If he is like me, he will want to memorialize it by stopping time with a picture.DSC00248.JPG

She likes the overhangs that are just the right size too.IMG_2329

Take a load off and reflect on your day, your relationship, rest from the trail or just talk about the Royals in the World Series (shameless plug). Stop to see an unobstructed view.

Caves can be fun that aren’t too wet and dark. The critters that live there—hide there, the people who explore and our pets at home all like being in or under or between. Click here to find out what our cat thinks about nooks and crannies. He is very sophisticated and has clever insights.

In a cave hike we saw a bat that was so ugly it was cute. We saw stalagmites and stalactites.

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This new pace I am learning to love. My normal mode is to burst down the trail or hustle through a cave with energy and speed trying to beat a time, get a good workout or beat the sun before it sets. I would only catch a glimpse of glory as I flew by. Leaping from one rock to the next as if the forest or cave floor was too hot to land on. I would say to my buddies that I wish we could slow down a little and get to look around but we rarely did.

Hiking with my honey has given to me so much meaning that adapting and going slower has produced joy. Do fewer miles and see more details of nature’s extravagant beauty. We laugh that I am the monkey and she is the snail. This is so true in the difference in our natural speeds. But as we have hit a speed closer to hers, it has satisfied my need to linger over the grand and epic sights. I enjoy the trail so much more. So stop in the nooks and crannies and let your eyes drink in nature’s visual nectar.