Monday, August 15, 2011

Fall Creek Falls Backpack Causes Fever

Saturday morning, August 13th, five of us gathered for the drive to Fall Creek Falls, and we all knew Donald would have everything under control. After all, it IS Donald. However, we may have been a tad preoccupied with whether or not it was going to rain to notice the temperature. The scenic drive thru the Sequatchie Valley passed the time and we arrived in good spirits. Got ourselves registered at the Nature Center, our packs on our backs, and took off on the Paw Paw Trail.

After a bit of meandering, we found our way toward the turn to the Overnight Trail. Now, we were cookin', we just didn't mean to do it literally.

The trail led through hardwoods in full leaf foliage, some grasses, with a few rocky patches, nothing unusual. We made it to Campsite #1 and settled down for lunch.
From here, we trekked a short distance and found a sign indicating Campsite #2 (our goal for the night) was another 2.5 miles. It was heating up, but we trudged onward until we found ourselves working very carefully down the 800 foot descent into the gorge. Across the bottom, we continued until we arrived at the dry creek bed where Donald called for a break before we attacked the climb out.

 The suspension bridge needed a toll-taker!

The humidity hung heavy as we crossed the bridge, turned left up the trail and began the hardest part of our day: the 800 foot climb out of the gorge to the other side. Soon, we were hopping boulders, picking the easiest route as best we could. Each stopped as needed to rest a bit before continuing onward and upward. Sweat dripped, faces reddened, and there might have been a thought or two that we could be sitting inside an air conditioned house at that moment! The Chronicler pitched forward at one point when her foot caught in some rocks and scuffed her leg, but with Donald's help got up and kept on trucking. When she finally arrived at the sign indicating Campsite #2, she kissed it! Little did she know those 400 more yards on the sign meant more climbing! This was the first time she drank all her water on a hike! About 6.5 miles for the day.
Joe arrived first, then Linda, Reggie, joined by Monty and Donald. Campsite #2 has a hand pump for water (still needs treatment) and a privy which Donald refuted the notion it was his duty to clean! Ha!

We all took a moment to cool down after the difficult climb in the horrific heat before searching out a good camp spot. Fortunately, we arrived before a couple of other groups that arrived later and took our pick of the spaces available. Donald needed several trees to tie off the tarp he so nicely carried inside his infamous stupendous pack! Then, it was time to set up tents, filter water, and eat. Before you knew it, Joe had disappeared inside his tent. Linda had some mysterious spots on her legs and she, too, delved into her tent, Monty had itchy legs and went inside, so it was left to Reggie and Donald to visit while dusk settled. We weren't joined by a whippoorwill, but we did have bats darting through the sky and and owl hooting a strange sound. When mosquitoes starting landing, I bid goodnite and found my pad felt absolutely wonderful on my tired back, but the sticky heat made it soo hard to rest as everything on me felt wet and clammy. After a restless night, morning was serenaded in by several singing birds. Breakfast came quick, then it was time to pack up and head out.
We think we're ready for the day!
We headed out at 9:05am, travelling over a level, soft pine needle covered trail for much of the way.
Yea, the first bridge!

By now, we are droopified

Hopeful, that we are within a couple of miles, we arrive at a parking lot and realize that we have Not found our cars. After a look around, we find the trail and soon find the Fall Creek Falls overlook, and then several other overlooks, but no Nature Center. Very poor signage in this area! Finally, we get to the suspension bridge below the Center, and we know we're there! About 6 miles. A hot, hot, time was had by all! With lunch in Dunlap at the Blue Orchid, 3 of us had cheeseburgers to celebrate while Donald stayed healthy with a turkey sandwich.