A day in the rain

Today was the first day Jason had off in a while and I was determined to get us all out into nature, Lucy included.

So last night, I made the decision, we would head back to Laurel Run Park, a destination not too far from our house.

Although Lucy and I woke up around our normal time, a little after 7 a.m., Jason wasn’t too keen on getting out of bed just yet. I didn’t blame him, it was his first day off in I don’t know how long. So Lucy, Kimber and I curdled up alongside him in bed and fell back asleep until he was ready to wake for the day.

We finally headed out the door around 9:30 a.m.

With an overcasted sky, Jason, Lucy and I were the only one’s that ventured out on the trails today. Yep, this only meant it was going to be a great day. We love having the trails to ourselves.

As we began our hike, the sky opened up and the drops of rain began. Of course Jason asked if we should stop or keep going.

The nice thing about this trail is it’s pretty much covered with trees, so we weren’t getting too wet. I figured, since we were already out here, what’s a little rain going to hurt. (Yes, this of course came after some convincing on my part that it’s okay to get wet.)

So we kept on going, Lucy following Jason eager to keep up with his pace.

As we neared the first waterfall and made our way down to the bottom it began raining a little bit harder, so we took cover to the left of it. It turned out to be the perfect place to wait out the rain.

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After the rain stopped, we headed off in a new direction to seek out the second waterfall we read about online.

The climb down to this waterfall was a little more challenging. Jason of course helped Lucy make her way down (holding her the majority of the time), as well as helping me as he guided my feet in the right spots to make it down in one piece. This was the adventure for today . . . it certainly got my heart pumping a little.

The rewards, yes two, of making my way down to the bottom were amazing . . .

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We of course got to experience another waterfall, just the two of us.

IMG_1757It was a beautiful stream of water off the ledge that produced an incredible sound.

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The second reward was watching my puppy have the time of her life. There was sand near the base of the waterfall that got this puppy all riled up. Sand started spraying everywhere as she began digging. After digging to a certain depth she would take off, butt close to the ground, running before returning to the same spot.

Before too long, this is all we could see.

IMG_1746It was absolutely adorable. The amount of fun she had in this little area made the entire trip worth while.

Since the temperatures are warmer, Jason and I decided to wear our hiking shoes, which are extremely light weight with an incredible grip. We learned last summer that they are also great in water.

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So we walked in the creeks and Lucy followed, yes she followed us right into the water. Last time we took her to this park she wanted nothing to do with the water. It was cold at first, but worth it when spotting views like this.

IMG_1769I was beyond excited that she got her paws wet this time.

As we walked the trails, I remembered the start of our adventures in NE Tennessee last summer. The trails are lined with lush green leaves of every size and shape. It is breathtaking to take this sight in, and today take in the smells of the rain.

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Today was another day that reminded me why we chose this area to move more than a year ago.

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Before we started our hike today, I started the S Health app on my phone to record what we did for the day.

The lowest elevation was 1,117 feet and the highest elevation was 1,755 feet. We walked 3.95 miles at an average speed of .9 miles per hour. Our maximum speed was 5.3 miles per hour.

We spent 2 hours, 26 minutes and 41 seconds in nature today and I loved every single minute of it with the world’s best boyfriend and puppy.

Lucy’s first hike

Yesterday we decided to take Lucy on her first hike at a park not too far from where we live.

Ever since we brought her home at the beginning of April, I have been thinking about places we could take her. Let’s just say I’ve been pretty excited about including this little puppy in our outdoor adventures.

With the warm temperatures and blue skies yesterday, Jason and I both had the itch to be outdoors. So, we got everything we needed and headed to the car with Lucy close at our heels. As soon as we neared the car, Lucy became a little hesitant. This has become a little bit of an obstacle at the moment for Lucy. She’s not a fan of the car yet, which we hope to change because Jason and I like to be on the go . . . We like to explore new places when the time affords us the opportunity.

So, Jason scooped her up and we were on our way. I have found that she enjoys laying down between the two seats on the little center console. With that said, she typically gravitates towards Jason’s lap where she snuggles and lays down.

We went to Laurel Run Park in Church Hill, Tenn. again. We wanted to take Lucy somewhere we had already been, so we knew the trails and how difficult they may be for her. Since she is only three months old, we didn’t want to completely wear her out to where we had to carry her.

As soon as we parked, Lucy was greeted by two youngsters. She of course loved the attention and licked happily as the little boy said puppy over and over again. After the mom came over and got her kids, we started towards the trail.

The last time we hiked this trail everything was starting to bloom. This time the trails were lined with white, yellow and light and dark purple flowers. It was really pretty.

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The butterflies were back!

Last year when we first started making our ways to the different trails we would see butterflies every where, of every color. Although not the best picture, here is one of the one’s we saw on the trail yesterday.

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The vegetation alongside the trails are once again a beautiful hue of greens with the occasional beautiful color of flowers.

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IMG_1659The better part of our hike, I carried the leash as Jason led the way. I found that if someone was ahead of her she was in a hurry to follow. But, of course, I had to hand the leash to Jason a time or two, so I could take a picture of our little peanut walking the trails.

IMG_1622Usually when I take her for a walk outside our place, she stops every few seconds to sniff and find something to eat. That was not the case when we went hiking yesterday, which of course surprised me. I figured with all the smells she would stop every few seconds. But Lucy was happy jogging along keeping up with the both of us.

Since yesterday was such a beautiful day, there were a ton of people at the park. For the majority of the hike, I did not have Lucy on a short leash, but rather allowed her to roam as far as the leash would take her. But, when we saw people approaching us, I would shorten the leash.

It was adorable, as everyone passed by, I heard so many “ahhh, she is so cute.” More times than not, they stopped to give her a little pat as Lucy soaked up all the attention. It’s true, you make a ton of friends when you have a dog, especially a puppy.

IMG_1624Lucy seemed to have a great time. She became a little braver the farther we hiked the trail, often times jumping across puddles in the path and climbing rocks. Jason commented at the end of our hike that she always stayed on the trail.

IMG_1636Until, of course we went off the beaten path.

We walked past the waterfall since there were so many people enjoying the sight and playing in the water at the foot of the falls. When we came back around, there was no one there, so Lucy led us down the rocks.

IMG_1640She stood in the dry area by the falls, but would not get her paws wet. Lucy was not too sure about the water. We will definitely have to get her used to the water.

IMG_1643Lucy really did well on her first hiking adventure. She really surprised me. On the way back to the car, she was trotting along at a faster pace than when we first started. I figured by this point she would be tired, but nope she was on a mission. Instead of missing all the muddy areas, she went right through them, which made me smile . . . she wasn’t afraid anymore.

This little peanut is going to be a great companion on our hikes. I’m so glad she did well. Now instead of leaving her at home, she can accompany us on our adventures.

On the car ride home she did fantastic. We really wore her out. We even stopped at the store and she was too tired to care that Jason got out.

IMG_1666Our adventure yesterday really was special for me. It’s a lot of fun to watch an animal enjoy the outdoors. When we got home, she ate and then took a bath. She instantly fell asleep in my lap when I finished drying her off. She slept for a couple more hours after that in her little bed.

I’m so glad she got all of that exercise!

Phenomenal hike: Jones Falls and Elk Falls

I have experienced cabin fever this winter for the first time in my adult life. With temperatures sometimes as low as the single digits, Jason and I spent a lot of time indoors. This winter was definitely a change from what I’m used to as A Florida girl.

The last true hike we took was in September. That seems like forever ago, especially when we were used to going out at least once a week.

With Jason having the day off and the temperatures rising to the high 50’s, we laced up our shoes, put on a few layers and packed a few more and went for a drive. That drive took us to North Carolina.

IMG_1154As soon as Jason parked the car, I got out and walked towards the water. The sky was blue with a chill in the air. The sound of rushing water instantly grabbed a hold of me and reminded me why we decided to move to NE Tennessee. It had definitely been too long since we heard that sound.

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This is the beginning of Elk Falls in North Carolina. The parking lot sits alongside the water, which eventually turns into Elk Falls.

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IMG_1158Instead of heading straight towards Elk Falls, we decided to hit the trails and hike towards Jones Falls.

In order to get to Jones Falls, we had to walk  behind a gate in the parking lot area. This trail opens rather wide for a while and at times becomes hilly.

IMG_1159Once we started walking along the path, I remembered why I loved the hike to Jones Falls so much.

About a half a mile later, the trail opened to a river. We continued walking along the river on a narrow trail that was quite muddy in some places today.

The views, the sounds, what more could you ask for.

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IMG_1217We eventually caught up with the Appalachian Trail, which is marked by white blazes on the tree.

IMG_1172I love this hike because you start hiking in North Carolina and end up in Tennessee. We crossed the state line by foot.

IMG_1207When we saw the blue blazes, we knew we had to take that trail to get to Jones Falls.

I loved walking the trail. There was so much green everywhere, something we haven’t been used to since winter came. We even saw trees starting to blossom, which I have to admit made me smile.

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IMG_1222We started to hear Jones Falls and eventually saw it from a distance. It looked like there was ice, but we weren’t sure until we got closer to it . . .

I think both of our jaws dropped as Jones Falls came into sight. Wow, also left our lips. We couldn’t believe all the ice and snow  . . . a wish definitely came true today. Jason and I have been wanting to hike to a waterfall since winter hit, but don’t really have the proper winter gear. We wanted to experience the frozen waterfalls in person . . .

IMG_1176So when we saw this it was a nice surprise.

IMG_1180The temperature dropped quite a bit as we came closer to Jones Falls. It was nice at first because we were both warm from the hike to the waterfall.

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IMG_1188As I was mesmerized by the view, listening to the incredible sound, Jason found a trail that went up towards the top of the waterfall. Yep, I of course went up to join him. Well, he came back down to help guide me. It was steep in some places and slippery. Jason of course helped me.

The site was even better than below. The temperatures were even colder than below. With that said, it was worth the hike up.

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There was a break in some of the ice and you could see the water running below.

IMG_1205After our bodies had enough of the cold, we headed back down the trail to grab our backpack and headed back. Jason packed us some sandwiches, which we stopped and ate where the sun was shinning, so we could soak up the warmth.

Before we starting walking again, I gave Jason a kiss. I was outdoors with the man I love. I was beyond happy . . .

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Of course on our way back we headed off the trail and found a new place to play.

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Some things just don’t change, I found a rock and sat down and took in the sound. Jason, on the other hand, found some rocks that he could skip in the water.

Now back in North Carolina we headed towards Elk Falls. As you hike down the path, there is a place where you can walk out on the rocks and view the waterfall from the top. This is always a great place to see a waterfall. The rushing water is powerful at this view.

Jason walked out closer to the edge and sat down for a while right over the waterfall.

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By the time we made it to Elk Falls it was getting colder, so we didn’t stay for long. Last time we stopped here there were a ton of people swimming in the water and sun bathing on the rocks. This time we had the view all to ourselves.

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My mind instantly went to a different place as I sat and watched the water hitting the pool of water below.

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IMG_1253Today was absolutely perfect. A perfect day with Jason. Really, I could not ask for anything more. We were both in our element once again.

IMG_1237My mind is completely clear and the stress was left along the trail.

Fresh air, the sounds of nature and your best friend by your side does wonders. It felt good to smile all day long. It felt good to be outdoors for a few hours today.

Red Fork Falls

Our last hike for the day led us to Red Fork Falls in Unicoi County, Tennessee. This was by far the best hike of the day, a little more adventurous and one that got your heart pumping a little more.

We got off at exit 32 on 1-26, and headed towards Unicoi, Tennessee. The trailhead for the waterfall was located off of Red Fork Road and was marked with a large red circle on a tree.

According to the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce website, the waterfall, which is 80 feet high, is located in the Limestone Cove Community.

IMG_0344There was quite a bit of climbing involved in this hike, either on rocks or on tree roots located on the path. I’m starting to become good at seeing the hand and foot holes when climbing up and down rocks.

We crossed two creek beds before we found ourselves along the top of the waterfall. This is when we found many places that gave us plenty of opportunities to get a view of the cascading water.

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Thank goodness for digital camera’s, everything was worthy of a photograph at this waterfall.

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And the hike continued, so we could get a better view.

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IMG_0356Until we saw the water plummet over the edge.

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It became prettier the more we hiked down the trail.

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IMG_0361It always amazes me to see where all the water flows, especially when it cascades down such beautiful rock formations.

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A beautiful waterfall . . .

IMG_0365The best part about this waterfall is the water kept going, which made us want to follow the trail.

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IMG_0373We climbed out on the rock ledge at many points, so we could get the full impact of this beautiful waterfall.

IMG_0374Although it was all stunning, I have to say the pictures below are some of my favorites of the day.

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IMG_0378We wanted to head further down the trail to see more of the water that we were hearing, but the trails were not clearly marked and it was getting late. We will just have to visit this waterfall again.

On our hike back up the trail, we stopped for yet another view of the bottom of the waterfall.

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IMG_0381Before heading back out the trail, we ran into a local who said he has visited the falls since he was 4 years old. He said the waterfall was the driest he has ever seen it, which only makes me want to go back and see it again.

The Cherokee National Forest, an incredible place to be!

Another great day out in nature with Jason. We have had so many incredible adventures as we seek out more waterfalls to add to our list of ones we have seen.

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.

Backbone Falls

After having to stay indoors yesterday because of all the rain, Jason and I hit the trails and found another beautiful waterfall in Tennessee, Backbone Falls.

On our way to the falls, we drove past South Holston Lake, where we stopped and climbed down to the water to check things out. There were some people out in their boats enjoying Labor Day, but not many because of the overcast skies.

South Holston Lake

South Holston Lake

South Holston Lake

South Holston Lake

After leaving the lake we headed on a road that Jason loves  . . .  and, well, me not so much. Today I got a little car sick because of all the twists and turns. The first time we traveled this road it was only a few days after we arrived in Tennessee and I was fine, well better off than today. The Snake has 489 curves to be exact. Thank goodness we did not drive the whole thing and left in a different direction.

The Snake

The Snake

The Snake

The Snake

I was thankful when we arrived at our destination and got out of the car . . . yeah no more curves and solid grounds.  After we parked we headed towards Backbone Rock and hiked up quite a few stairs that took us to the top of the tunnel.

Backbone Rock, a fairly short hike.

Backbone Rock, a fairly short hike.

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IMG_0033I sat on a rock next to a tree as I looked down at the road and creek below us.

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According to a sign posted near Backbone Rock, “Around 1900, the Beaver Dam Railway Company blasted and drilled the tunnel to provide railroad access from Damascus into Shady Valley’s rich manganese and iron ores and timber. Within the next 20 years, the area’s privately owned timber had been cut over twice and ravaged by a devastating fire.”

IMG_0046The railroad tracks were removed in 1924 when the route was opened to cars. The tunnel was then expanded into a two lane road in 1930.

IMG_0048Backbone Rock, as well as 20,000 surrounding acres, were purchased when Congress allowed the federal government to acquire land in 1911, which was formed as part of Tennessee’s National Forest lands.

IMG_0050Backbone Rock, known as the shortest tunnel in the world. It was a great site to see from above and alongside the road.

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We walked across the street and found another trail, a trail that led us to Backbone Falls.

IMG_0051Of course as soon as we arrived at this trail, there were more stairs that went straight up, which were kind of slippery from all of the rain yesterday.

IMG_0052A rather short hike later, which was up hill, we started to hear the sounds of the waterfall.

IMG_0054Jason stood very close to the edge of the top of the waterfall and took some pretty incredible pictures looking down.

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IMG_0058And then we walked down even more stairs . . .

IMG_0062Until we saw this . . .

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At one point Jason and I walked on the rocks located at the base of the waterfall, so we could feel just how cold the water was . . . COLD!

IMG_0078But worth it, I love walking right up to a waterfall, there is no feeling like it, no feeling at all. To feel that rush of cold air, while touching the cold rock and the water, best feeling.

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We decided to walk down the creek a little bit, where of course I found more water to take pictures of . . .

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We then walked back up the stream to where the waterfall was located and got back on the trail, which included more stairs that led us out a different way than we went in alongside the road.

IMG_0102I had to capture one more beautiful sight before we walked back to the car. More water, more incredibly calming sounds to end another fantastic hike.

IMG_0101Backbone Falls was a beautiful waterfall, one we got to witness alone, as we were the only ones on this trail.

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!