Little Stony Falls: a Virginia adventure

Since our hike was shortened on Wednesday due to an intense storm, I really wanted to head back out into nature yesterday, especially since the sky was blue.

Jason and I decided to go back to one of the waterfalls we have already seen, Little Stony Falls in Virginia. The first time we ventured on the trails was June 30, 2013, almost two months after we moved to NE Tennessee.

We took SR 72 into the Jefferson National Forest, which led us to the trailhead that begins at the Hanging Rock Picnic Area.

According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the trail is 2.8-miles. By the time we finished our 4 hour and 12 minute hike, we traveled between 5 1/2 to six miles on foot with our 7-month old puppy, Lucy.

The trail follows Little Stony Creek, which according to the website, guides hikers through a 400-feet deep and 1,700-foot wide gorge.

I forgot just how beautiful the trail was. There are so many opportunities to exit the path and head closer to the creek to see some stunning rock formations with water gushing through and over them.

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I know that’s why our hike took so long, every opportunity we had we took a detour.

Although this path isn’t extremely difficult, there were times we had to hike a narrow path that if not careful would leave you falling a good distance. There were also boulders and large rocks along the path that we had to either climb around or over to continue along.

There are also a few bridges that took us over the creek, which provided some stunning views as well.

IMG_2164On our way back we ventured below a bridge to capture this beautiful sight.

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Yesterday I felt adventurous at times as I spotted things I wanted to photograph. I climbed up and down rocks off the beaten path, just to get a little closer. Thank goodness Jason was with me, he helped me climb back up boulders when it was hard to find places for footing.

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IMG_2178I think Lucy enjoyed our stopping points as well. Although we keep her on a leash when we are hiking the trails, it often comes off when we find our little spots of discovery.

IMG_2181I often times wonder what she takes in while we are on our hikes. Lucy is very observant, that I know for sure.

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IMG_2209The top and bottom picture are the same view, but of course Lucy snuck on my lap as I was getting ready to take a picture.

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There is a point in the path that passes by a little waterfall, which by this point is a good place to stop and enjoy some of the cool air from the water.

IMG_2201It had a lot of water running down the front of the rocks this time. The water continued along the rock at its base and flowed down over a ledge.

IMG_2200Our hike continued.

Eventually we came to another waterfall . . . The path at this point walked along flatter rocks closer to the creek. Some of the rocks were dry, while others were wet making them quite slick.

Unfortunately yesterday I took another spill, landed on my other hip and arm. When we were hiking on Wednesday my foot slipped in the mud. Yesterday my foot slipped on a rock, which was a much harder fall. Tears instantly welled up and began to fall as Jason and Lucy both came to my rescue. Lucy was instantly in my lap making sure I was okay as Jason was doing what he could do to help.

I have to say, although it’s no fun falling while out hiking, I would rather fall in the mud than on a rock. I have a huge black and blue mark on my elbow, which is incredibly tender. I have another swollen spot on my right leg from the blow, which is hard to put pressure on.

I am incredibly sore today, incredibly sore.

The fall happens so fast. At one moment I am walking along following Jason and Lucy and the next I am on the ground. To say I was beyond careful past this point is an understatement. Jason often times grabbed a hold of my hand when he could sense my hesitation.

So, before we continued on, we sat in front of the waterfall, enjoyed an apple, while Lucy enjoyed some lunch.

IMG_2215It was definitely a pretty place to stop. After a little while, we continued on. We had hiked all this way, there was no way I was going to stop. I wanted to see the waterfall.

Little Stony Falls is a 24-foot waterfall. Incredible sound.

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We climbed down the side of the hill to get an up-close and personal look at the gorgeous falls.

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Lucy of course observed the area as well.

IMG_2239And tried to follow Jason as he climbed on and around trees and rocks to make it closer to the falls.

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The temperature at the waterfalls always drops a few degrees, which can be nice after a hot and humid hike. Our poor Lucy, on the other hand, becomes extremely cold and finds Jason’s lap to cuddle on and grab some of his warmth.

Although I took a nasty fall yesterday, it was still an incredible day outside finding pure, untouched beauty in the forest.

IMG_2195Years and years of running water created these beautiful sights, instead of man.

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The best part about this hike is the sounds of water. The intensity of the running water in the creek changes many times throughout the hike . . . which in turn changes the sound. There is something extremely relaxing and calming about that sound.

 

One healthy puppy

I am beyond thrilled to say that our puppy Lucy is healthy. I’ve been worried since she arrived, especially since we know absolutely nothing about her parents, where she came from and how long she was wandering outside.

IMG_1548We took Lucy to the vet this morning and she did fantastic. She let out a couple little yelps when she was getting her vaccinations, but other than that she was beyond good. This little pup was really calm considering everything that was done to her.

It was interesting to see Lucy gravitate towards Jason between all the poking. She would walk over to me until I picked her up and then eventually crawled from my lap to Jason’s. This man of mine not only knows how to calm me down, but he has that calming effect on Lucy as well. She instantly curled up and closed her eyes.

I did not feel nervous, or anxious, but my puppy sure knew.

The vet said Lucy is a terrier schnauzer mix and based on her teeth she is about 13-weeks old.

After all our information was put into the computer Jason put her on the scale to see how much she weighs . . . 5.9 pounds. I knew she was tiny, but wow, she’s really tiny. She has a wonderful appetite though, so I’m sure in the next three weeks that scale will read more.

All her exams came back normal and she had four vaccine’s done, which made me feel good. My little puppy now is on a wellness plan to keep her healthy. No more wondering if she is okay. Now that we have vaccinations underway and received the first dosage of flee and worm medicine, she can definitely go on some hikes with us.

We now she is capable of going with us after her first adventure a few nights ago.

We took her for a walk on the Kingsport Greenbelt Saturday night and she was amazing. I forgot how much fun it was to go on a walk with a dog.  I don’t think she once walked while we went along the path and in the grass. It was cute to see her excited about exploring a new area. Often times she had me jogging to keep up with her pace. Once we got home, I gave her a bath and she curdled up in her little bed and instantly passed out. We wore her out.

It’s still sometimes hard to believe we are puppy owners. It’s surreal really. This little peanut and her sibling found us and we were able to give her a home. I love how everything eventually fell into place; that we were able to provide her a home that she deserves.

Her brother is still doing well and will be going to his new home next week. I met his owner the other day when Jason and I stopped by his house with Lucy. He is so incredibly laid back and very easy to get along with. He is already talking about fencing in his huge back yard for the little pup. I’m sure this little puppy will be very happy.

Lucy is such a smart little girl. She now knows three tricks – sit, up and down. Although we are still working on laying down and standing up, she knows sit really well. We have also been extremely successful with potty training. She no longer has accidents in the house! Lucy and I have been on a good routine. I take her out every one to two hours, depending on how long she naps for and she goes every time. You have no idea how exciting this is . . . I was starting to wonder early on because the accidents were so frequent.

This puppy has filled my heart with so much joy in such a short amount of time. I absolutely love having her with me all day. Even when Jason’s home, she finds where I am and lays close. At night, she sleeps with us, which I know probably isn’t a good habit to start, but it works just fine. She crawls under, yes, under the covers as soon as we lay down and stays there until she is ready to wake up.

This morning she started to gently kick my legs with her paws, so I moved the blanket from over her and she crawled onto my chest and then onto my pillow. She laid on her back as our noses were almost touching, so I could scratch her chest. This is one of her absolute favorite things . . . you need to calm her down, scratch and rub her chest and it works every time.

She is incredibly sweet first thing in the morning. Lucy always puts a smile on my face first thing, which is a great way to start the day.

Lucy filled a void I did not know was there . . . .

Pine Ridge Falls

Pine Ridge Falls, in Unicoi County, Tennessee was our first adventure of the day. This Longarm Branch trailhead, which is in the Cherokee National Forest, was located off of Clark’s Creek Road, which we found off of Highway 107.

IMG_0276The hike was not bad at all, although we had to watch where we stepped because it is also used by horses.

IMG_0275It was a pretty trail nonetheless and a rather short one to our destination.

IMG_0274There was one creek crossing along the trail, which again was pretty simple to get to the other side due to the low water.

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After we walked across the creek there is an opening in the trail where you can head straight or turn left. Make sure you turn left, this is the path that leads to the waterfall. Shortly after we continued our hike in that direction, we started to hear the water.

IMG_0231We of course followed many trails that led us to the creek along the main path, which provided us with some incredible views and sounds of the water.

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The waterfall was our next destination. We were able to climb directly in front of it, which is always fun.

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After we sit and admire the waterfall, Jason and I always climb to see where the water flows from. Every time we find more incredible views. The pictures below are from the top of the waterfall. It’s always neat to get that perspective.

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Today was another great day in the Cherokee National Forest. It was another beautiful waterfall that we will add to our growing list of ones we have seen. Each waterfall has its own personality, its own unique characteristics, making them all beautiful in their own way.

The GPS coordinates for the Pine Ridge Falls parking area, which we plugged into our Garmin were: N 36° 7.518′, W 082°  32.264′.

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.

What a good life

Although it has dawned on me before, this last week showed me more than once what a good life I have.

Sometimes you have to take chances, sometimes you have to move forward no matter how scary the idea can be. Trust, trusting in yourself and the ones you love, is all you need to put dreams into action.

My life has changed drastically since May 1, the day we moved to Kingsport, Tennessee from Fort Myers, Florida.

I have grown much closer to the man I love, Jason, during the many transitions we have faced since moving to NE Tennessee. I won’t lie, the stress got the best of me more than a few times, which caused a lot of anxiety. But time and time again, Jason was there for me, he helped guide me along a path that allowed me to get rid of that stress.

I took action and made all my worries disappear, which also included the stress and anxiety.

I’m living a life I had once dreamt about, one Jason told me I was capable of accomplishing.

Before leaving Florida I was able to talk my editor into keeping me onboard for a monthly publication I had been writing for, for more than a year. I was also named the reporter for three other publications that come out once a month. I was pretty excited, I had four writing gigs before moving.

A friend I have kept in contact with over the years has also continued my dream of writing for multiple publications.

I met Christina while working for my first weekly newspaper out of college. Although I was let go, due to the economy, and moved away from Arizona and back to Florida we stayed in contact. It’s been a great friendship because we both have a passion for journalism, so our emails are filled with our latest stories, the stresses of the job and an update about our personal life.

After we arrived in Tennessee I got a random phone call from her asking if I would be interested in freelancing for a few of the papers she is now the editor for in the East Valley of Arizona. I was beyond excited. With this gig I added a few more publications under my belt that I write for on a continious basis.

Just a few weeks ago she offered me a freelance section editors position, which I agreed to instantly. It’s awesome that I can do this job on my computer at home.

The best part is the great news doesn’t stop there …

Last Thursday I met the publisher of the Herald & Tribune, a weekly newspaper in Tennessee. I signed my paperwork and was given my first four writing assignments as their newest freelance writer.

I never imagined that I would be writing for so many different publications, all of which are in different states.

I will never forget the feeling I had when I saw my byline in print for the first time in my high school newspaper. Then in my college newspaper at Arizona State University. The best was seeing my byline in the paper of my first full-time paying job. That feeling never fades away, that excitement has only intensified over the years. Can you imagine what that level of excitement is now??

I am living my dream and the best part is that dream expands a little more everyday as I hope to accomplish more in this career that I absolutely love.

I have an amazing family, wonderful friends and a boyfriend that spoils me every day. Add a wonderful career and an absolutely beautiful state to live in too that line-up, wow I’m one extremely happy girl.

Jason and I began hiking when we lived in Florida, which turned into another passion for me. He wanted to show me the outdoors and what it had to offer and I was instantly mesmerized by its beauty. We saw many gorgeous places, but we wanted to see more.

The trails are endless here in Tennessee, as well as Virginia and North Carolina. At least once a week we go hiking to a different waterfall. Every hike has its own adventure, each hike leads us to another beautiful part of nature.

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This waterfall, Jones Falls in Tennessee, might just be my new favorite.

The sound of the water cascading down the rocks is a sound I will never grow tired of!!

What a good life, when I’m not writing I’m exploring nature with the man of my dreams, what more can a girl ask for?

This move to Tennesse has proven to be a wonderful decision for Jason and I!

Follow your dreams, you never know what is on the other side, you never know how much more your life will blossom.

After a day like yesterday I was inspired to sit down and write a blog. I often tines reflect on how far I have come when Jason and I sit at the bottom of waterfalls lost in our own thoughts.

Elk Falls & Jones Falls

After taking a week off from exploring, we hit the trails again today and witnessed two beautiful waterfalls in North Carolina and Tennessee.

The first waterfall, Elks Falls was located in North Carolina. That waterfall was rather easy to find, as well as a very popular destination.
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As soon as we got out of the car, we went down by the water, which like always was breathtaking to see.
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North Carolina is a beautiful state. I told Jason it was crazy to see just how different it was from Tennessee.
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We then went back on the trail, which was about a quarter mile to the waterfall. One of the easiest trails we have hiked.
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We first stopped at the top of the waterfall. You get such a different perspective at this height.
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We then got back on the trail and found the bottom of the waterfall. I couldn’t believe the amount of people gathered here swimming and enjoying the sites and sounds.
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Although we have seen quite a few waterfalls since arriving in Tennessee, it always takes my breath away when we get up close and fully experience the atmosphere.
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Since there were so many people at the falls, which seemed to keep multiplying as we stood there, we decided to make our way back to the car.

That is when our adventure continued as we searched for our second waterfall, Jones Falls, in Tennessee.

We walked behind a gate located in the parking area, which remains closed to traffic, and followed a rather wide trail. We stayed on that trail for about a half of a mile before it opened to the creek.

This is where it got tricky.

At first we thought we had to cross the creek to get to the other side, but then found a trail, which really didn’t resemble a trail. It was more of a worn path in the overgrown grass. This eventually took us to a much smaller trail along the creek.
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We followed this until the Appalachian Trail, which was marked with white blazes on the tree. This is when the trail became beautiful.
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As we walked the trail we crossed from the North Carolina to the Tennessee state line. That in itself was pretty cool to think about.
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The trail was harder than the first one of the day. We climbed up and down the path, which got our heart beating.

Once the trail showed two white blazes on the tree, we changed to another trail that had blue blaze markings. This is when we started to hear the water.

I was stunned at what we saw …
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The waterfall was absolutely beautiful. I have to admit it’s my new favorite spot.

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The water was freezing and the temperature of the air instantly gave me goosebumps. These are my favorite places to go because we most often are the only people there.

We found a rock, I sat and Jason layed on my lap as we enjoyed what we found. I told Jason we have a pretty good life. We get to experience these stunning places on a regular basis. These incredible views are in our back yard for the most part.

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This hike was 3.6 miles round trip, which I felt by the end of our adventure. I guess doing cardio … running and the elliptical … five days in a row showed me what I actually worked out once we hit the trails.

On our way back we spotted a ton of butterflies, another highlight of our adventure.
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Two incredible waterfalls in one day … what a great way to spend a Sunday with Jason!

Dennis Cove Falls

Today’s hike was very peaceful with beautiful scenery and a little bit of adventure.

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We decided to go to Dennis Cove Falls in Tennessee to check out the waterfall.

In order to get there we had to cross three creeks … by cable. The first and second we ended up doing half by cable and the other through the water on or in-between rocks. The third cable was by far the easiest because of a log we could walk on while hanging onto the cable.
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There were many places to go off the main beaten path and more into the dense trees and vegetation that took us closer to the water.
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The waterfall was flowing pretty good today after the rainfall we have had.
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Jason of course found another spot where he could get a different perspective, very pretty.
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We sat for a while taking in the scenery, as well as the sounds and tranquility of it all before we moved on.
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We stopped on rocks in the middle of the creek.
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One of my favorite things to do is look up while we are out in the wilderness.
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Everything is so green, lush and stunning.
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Today’s hike was a lot of fun, we laughed a lot … and had our moments of silence as we both took everything in and cleared our heads.

Compared to some of the hikes we have been on, this part of the Cherokee National Forest was not too strenuous.

What a great two days of exploring …

Directions from Laurel Falls alternative hike:

  • Continue on Dennis Cove Road for 1-mile. Just before the single car bridge is a small parking lot. Directly across the road is the trailhead.

Directions from 1-26 to the trailhead of Laurel Falls:

  • 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.