In Lieu of Backpacking

We are trying to get a hike in at least once a weekend.  Since it’s a big reason we chose to move to Chattanooga, we figured we ought to take advantage.  However, the hot and humid August weather has made hiking slightly less enticing.

I did a little research to pick a place to hike that wasn’t too far away.  I learned about South Cumberland State Park and the Savage Gulf State Natural Area, located inside the park.

There was a 17 mile hike that sounded intriguing, but 17 miles for us means spending the night.  Since I had a lot going on this past week, we didn’t have time to prepare for backpacking.  Plus, we weren’t quite sure where Tisen would sleep given that our 2 person tent is really only big enough for a person and a half.

So, we opted to do two short day hikes instead.

We headed out Saturday morning loaded down like we were spending the night after all (the joys of too much photography equipment).

When we arrived at the Stone Door ranger station, we saw a sign that said Laurel Falls was only 250ish yards from the parking lot.  So, of course, we had to walk there first.  What they didn’t mention was that it was 250 yards down a bunch of stairs and 250 yards back up those stairs.  But, still, who wouldn’t go 250 yards to see a waterfall?

I’m not sure how excited Tisen was about the waterfall after the stairs, but he made it and I was happy I had my tripod so I could shoot with long exposures, creating smooth water.

We headed back up the steps and on towards Stone Door from there.

The walk to Stone Door started on a paved path.  Paved as in asphalt.  We noticed blazes on the trees marking the trail and Pat commented that he was glad they’d marked the trail because otherwise we might have gotten lost.  It did seem a bit odd to hang metal trail blazes on the trees along a trail that was paved, but I guess they haven’t lost anyone yet.

The first overlook was the end of the asphalt, thankfully.  Although, we passed a woman coming back the other way with only one leg.  I don’t know if she was able to walk on the unpaved portion of the trail or not, but it did make me appreciate the asphalt.

From the overlook, we not only got a nice panoramic view of the mountains, but we spotted a rocky outcropping in the general direction we were headed.  We suspected it was our destination.

Tisen was not any more excited by me setting up my tripod at the overlook than when I pulled it out at Laurel Falls, but he waited fairly patiently once Pat took him off the asphalt and into the shade.

If there was one thing that would have made the day nicer, it would have been cooler temperatures and less humidity.