Laurel Falls, an anniversary hike

Jason and I went back to Laurel Falls today, which is located in the Cherokee National Forest (Pond Mountain Wilderness) in Hampton, Tennessee. It was truly a perfect day, a great way to celebrate us being together for four years.

Although the rain came down as we started our hike, we kept going. I’m so glad we did, the rain stopped and our adventure continued.

After hiking about a mile down the trail, it turns into rocks, well stairs almost, that you have to hike down to get to the waterfall.

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The hike up is always a little more rigiourous than the one heading down to the falls.

This beautiful waterfall is 40 feet high and 50 feet wide. The first time we hiked to Laurel Falls it was after a good rain and the water was pouring down the rocks. This time it was completely different.

Laurel Falls, Sept. 9

Laurel Falls, Sept. 9, 2013

Laurel Falls,  July 22, 2013

Laurel Falls, July 22, 2013

The sound of the waterfall was completely different today, but with that said, it was still incredible to see again.

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IMG_0222Since there was not as much water at the bottom of the waterfall today, we made our way across to the other side to see yet another perspective of the waterfall.

IMG_0226We then made our way out into the middle and stood directly in front of it. The water was cold, but it felt great.It’s always a rush to get directly in front of a waterfall. This is where you feel and hear the power of it all. There is no other sound quite like it, no other sound that gives you that sense of calmness.

Now this is where the fun began. The last time we were here in July, a couple of guys who were camping, showed Jason a trail that went directly up. That trail starts alongside the waterfall. Well today was the day, today I climbed up this trail on all four’s at a few points until Jason and I reached the part that became a little more even alongside the waterfall.

IMG_0220This is looking down the trail from top, which really doesn’t give it justice . . .

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Jason and walked out onto some of the rocks at the top of the waterfall and watched where it all accumulated before falling down the front of the rocks. This was a rush, an absolute rush.

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The picture above and below, was my favorite view of the day. It was stunning to see how the water hollowed out part of the rock. Jason and I both agree, that is definitely something you want to see in person.

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I still cannot get over the hike we did to get there. I have to admit my heart started pumping as the trail became narrow and I looked over the ledge and saw how far up we were. That’s where Jason came in, he sensed when I needed a little encouragement, he became my strength and I hiked on and am so glad I did.

Like always, we kept our adventure going and continued to follow the trail. Jason heard from a few people that there was another waterfall and we were determined to find the second one.

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Another waterfall that we witnessed alone . . . another breathtaking view . . .

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IMG_0203It was a rather wide waterfall . . . and it was kind of tough to get it all in one photograph.

Well, we kept going after this and found a few campsites along the trail that had a great view of the creek. As we sat on a few rocks to take a break, I found some beautiful flowers along the edge of the water.

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It was a great day, one that pushed me to my limits once again, making me overcome my fears. My confidence is soaring, especially when I saw the continuous smile on Jason’s face. One of the best parts of the hike was an embrace Jason gave me after completing one section of our hike, as well as his remarks. Yep, I have a great man in my life, one who I fall in love with more a little every day.

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How can you not have a good day when all of this is your view? When all you breathe is the fresh air after an afternoon shower?

A perfect day, a perfect way to celebrate our anniversary. A day I will remember for years to come.

Directions from 1-26 to the trailhead:

  • Take exit 24 to Elizabethton on Scenic US 321                          8.4 miles
  • Turn right at 19E Jcts staying on 321                                           5.2 miles
  • In Hampton turn left on 321                                                          1.3 miles
  • Look to the right for the parking lot and trailhead area.

Alternate hike:

  • In Hampton turn left on 321                                                           0.8 miles
  • Take a right on to Dennis Cove Drive                                            3.3 miles
  • Take the windy road up the mountain to the Appalachian Trail Crossing at the Dennis Cove trailhead where you will find a parking lot on either side of the road.

Laurel Falls

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This is where our hike lead us today, Laurel Falls. It was quite the site to see.

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Jason followed a trail straight up to the top of the waterfall, as I found a rock and enjoyed some peace …

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After a very trying week last week this was exactly what I needed. The longer I sat on the rock the clearer my thoughts became and the higher my spirits soared.

It’s important to have a good support system when you move away from everything you know. I have had some ups and downs this past week – but with the support of Jason and my mom I was able to get through it.

It’s hard to believe that the first marked two full months since we arrived in Kingsport.

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I’m fortunate to live in such a beautiful area, an area that provides so many outlets to distress and become centered again.

The walk that led us to the waterfall was quite the hike. We walked straight down rocks, which definitely slowed my pace.

At one point in our hike we walked alongside the water on rocks.

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Then it became a little easier again.

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I love being out in nature …

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Laurel Falls is my new favorite place … my legs are screaming at me because of the workout I gave them today …

Once again I left all my stress and worry at the waterfall and on the trails. I hope it will stay with me for the rest of the week …

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Directions from 1-26 to the trailhead:

  • Take exit 24 to Elizabethton on Scenic US 321                                     8.4 miles
  • Turn Right at 19E Jct Staying on 321                                                      5.2 miles
  • In Hampton turn left on 321                                                                     1.3 miles
  • Look to the right for the parking lot and trailhead area.

Alternate hike:

  • In Hampton turn left on 321                                                                     0.8 miles
  • Take a right on to Dennis Cove Drive                                                      3.3 miles
  • Take the windy road up the mountain to the Appalachian Trail Crossing at the Dennis Cove trailhead where you will find a parking lot on either side of the road.

Pure happiness

IMAG1909Yesterday marked a month since we arrived in Kingsport, TN, a month since our new adventure began.

“I’m not telling you it is going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”

There is so much truth in this statement. Although there were times when stress overcame the both of us as we were trying to find work and make ends meet, we stuck together and made things happen. We encouraged each other to keep going.

Since day one I have told Jason that he is my rock . . . This man keeps me going, keeps the positive attitude flowing freely and is my strength when it’s hard for me to find some.

“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers

The believers and thinkers

But most of all surround yourself

With those who see greatness within you.” 

I continue to reach for the stars because Jason inspires me to become more. He knows what my dreams are; he knows what I am capable of doing.

I left Fort Myers with a freelance job for two publications, so I would have some type of income while trying to find work. Since arriving that work load has increased. I now write for seven publications – one being my old newspaper the Pine Island Eagle. Unfortunately the woman who replaced me has already resigned, leaving the position open once again. It has been a lot of fun writing articles for the Eagle these past couple of weeks. The best part is it has kept me extremely busy, well too busy at times.

Many of the sources I have used for the article are asking me to return, as well as sharing how much they miss me. These people continue to touch me even though I am now a couple of states away. One woman told me the best paper since I left was the one that my articles began appearing in once again.

I always knew it was important to network, but never knew how many opportunities can come out of keeping a relationship with someone. When I was let go from a paper in Arizona, due to the downturn in the economy, I kept in touch with one of my fellow reporters. It has been a great relationship throughout the years because Christina shares the same passion for journalism as I do. We share some of the stories we have worked on, the frustrations that come with the job and where our career has taken us.

A few weeks ago I was floored when she offered me a freelance position for four different publications in Arizona. I am grateful that she thought of me – that she offered me a job for publications that she now is the editor for.

As I fill my days with phone interviews, email interviews and writing to meet the many new deadlines, I have also been pursuing a job lead for a paper in Bristol, VA. Within days I should hear the final outcome of the continuous communication with the editor.

The opportunities are also blossoming for Jason as well. An application he filled out turned into a job interview the next day, which then turned into a job. A few days after he started working at this restaurant in Elizabethton the owner offered him a tremendous opportunity – his own breakfast restaurant in the same area.

I am beyond excited for Jason! Now the recipes for a breakfast menu are coming to fruition, as well as everything else that goes along with a restaurant. I love watching Jason’s expressions as he talks about this new journey, the tone in his voice that shows his excitement. I cannot wait to see this come together, I cannot wait to sit down in his restaurant and enjoy a meal at one of the many tables.

All of this just goes to show some times taking a risk is worth it . . . sometimes going out of your own comfort zone offers many rewards. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined these opportunities would surface for the both of us.

Now with our careers taking off, the vision of our future that we have talked about is one step closer to coming true.

I love that I made this move, I love that I made this move with my best friend and the love of my life.