Monday, September 15, 2008

Fall Creek Falls adventure

A confession: I have posted absolutely misleading pictures with this entry. These photos are serene and majestic, not to mention absolutely unlike the experience of this trip.

We planned to hike a series of short hikes around Fall Creek Falls, which is supposed to be one of the nicest state parks in Tennessee. Our day started with the Cable Trail, a steep descent down rocks to the bottom of the creek. As the name suggests, there is a steel cable to hold onto. The view at the bottom is of Cane Falls, pictured here. Of course, what goes down must come up, and the trip up is a bit more strenuous. Most of us had made it up when a large snake slithered across the path - I didn't see it but those who did guessed it was poisonous because of its triangular head.

We next headed out on the wooded PawPaw Trail. Its biggest claim to fame is a series of overlooks, although the one we ventured out to was too overgrown for views. I was loitering at the back of the group. About halfway in to the hike, we heard screams from the front. All we could clearly make out were "bees" and "run." Those at the front ran forward, and we at the back stopped. "I'm not going on," I announced. Wimpy? You bet. (Mind you, I wasn't planning to ruin anyone else's fun - I was ready to head back myself.) Lauren and Kay reassured me that we'd be fine when they suddenly changed their tune. The flying menaces were actually chasing us down the trail and we ran for several hundred yards before we were free. It seems there was a yellowjacket nest right in the trail, and the thumping of our boots had provoked them to attack. We did turn back and eventually met up with the rest of our group; many people were stung multiple times.

A lunch break settled us all down, and then we set out for Fall Creek Falls. The trail goes over a wobbly suspension bridge before coming to some overlooks. This photo shows Fall Creek Falls from one of them. We then took another steep trail downhill - not quite as steep, but actually more elevation change - to the bottom of the falls. The return trip mostly retraced our steps until the end, when we went by the Cascades. This is small waterfall where the water stairsteps down into a series of pools. Several of us took the opportunity to slide down the last cascade and generally frolic in the pools. It was a great way to finish off the hike.

If you want to see photos of bees, snakes, shenanigans, and general frolicking, you'll have to visit my Flickr site, Dave's Flickr site, or the event page.

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