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.

IMG_2231Until she didn’t know what to do and completely stopped.

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.

 

Came to my rescue

I have such a caring man by my side. I love him to pieces.

Yesterday Jason had the day off from his now two jobs, so I took the day off as well. He planned a hiking trip with one of the girls he works with at the Marriott in town and her son, as well as his cousin and two boys.

We all eventually arrived at the Devils Bath Tub in Virginia, with the hope that the weather would stay nice enough for all of us to enjoy a day out in nature.

After waiting for some time in the parking area at the trailhead of the Devils Bath Tub for his cousin, Jason decided to put a note in the window telling them we already hit the path.

It was overcast and the winds were changing, which told us the rain was on its way. We have been out on a few hikes where it started to rain, but decided to push on, which worked in our favor because the storm always passed us by.

We were on our way, with Lucy of course.

The trail looked much different yesterday, the water level in the creeks was much higher and the rock beds, which were dry last time, had water running through them. With overcast skies, the look of the trail and vegetation was much different as well. The darker hue was breathtaking.

Eventually the rain drops began and after some discussion we all decided to hike on . . . Our tune eventually changed as the leaves could no longer hold onto the weight of the rain water and the drops started falling at faster rates. We found some coverage, well a little bit of coverage, and stopped to see what would happen. At this point the rest of our group joined us on our wet hiking adventure.

As we were all gathered in the same spot, an intense lightning bolt struck, which sounded like it was extremely close by. Jason called it, our hike was over. He wanted to make sure everybody was safe, and after reading about someone being killed on Fort Myers Beach, near where we used to live, the day before from being struck by lightning, we knew better than to take any chances.

By this point, I had picked Lucy up and wrapped her in my shirt, which was gaining dampness by the minute. Thank goodness I packed another long sleeve Under Armour shirt that I could wear. This poor puppy of ours gets cold really fast.

With the decision finalized, everybody turned around and began walking as fast as they could, while being careful not to stumble on tree roots or rocks along the path. We were all extremely soaked, but everyone seemed to be in good spirits.

It was crazy to see how fast the path filled with water and how the intensity of the creeks changed as it filled with rain water.

Although I was not scared, I was glad Jason called the hike and we all decided to walk back to the car. Since we were all soaked, it got cold, especially when walking through the creeks, which was also cold, as we followed the trail out.

Jason was always close by as we crossed the creeks, which he confessed later almost ended up putting him in the water. I love how he makes sure I am always okay. I’m still a little hesitant on crossing some of the creeks, which by this point I shouldn’t be. My courage constantly grows though, which is good.

Even the little boy who came out with his mom, was keeping an eye on me. It was absolutely adorable, 10 years old, and he was looking out for me. He was right in front of me, loving every minute of being out in nature and walking in the rain. I spotted him turning around to make sure I was still coming. What a nice young man.

It wasn’t until almost the very end of the trail that led us to the final creek to cross where I took a spill, a really hard spill. As we turned a corner I walked close to the edge of the trail because there was a large pool of water. As soon as my foot hit the edge it slid in the mud and I fell pretty hard on my hip. Mind you, I still had Lucy in my arms. I have no idea how I did it, but I kept Lucy in my arms as I hit the ground, cushioning her blow.

I’m so proud of Lucy, she was such a sport. She didn’t budge at all as she sought out comfort in my arms.

Jason was ahead of me a few steps and before I knew it he was by my side leaning down grabbing my hand to pull me up. It all happened so fast. I was really covered in mud.

As I stood up, I placed my forehead on his shoulder as he asked if I was okay. He said he heard the impact of me hitting the ground on my hip, as well as the squeal I let out. His caring tone almost brought me to tears, so I picked my head up looked him in his eyes before he took Lucy’s leash and we started walking again. I was proud that I restrained from crying, even though the tears started filling my eyes.

I was in a lot of pain, but we were almost to the finish line, if you will, and the rain was still pouring down, so I had no other choice but to keep moving.

We made it to the car and then back to our place, where his cousin and boys joined us for lunch.

Although we couldn’t finish our hike, and I took a nasty fall, and Jason lost his glasses, it turned out to be a fantastic day. The day was full of a lot of laughter and after our company left to head back to Kentucky, the good times continued with Jason.

Today, well, I’m a little sore, so I decided to stay at home and not go for a run or head to the gym. I’m kind of surprised I haven’t found any bruises yet, but a little bummed about how achy I am. I guess it all comes with the adventures of loving the outdoors.