Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fall Creek Falls

Saturday 4/9/11 Fall Creek Falls

I drove to FCF to hike with Upper Cumberland TTA. Weatherman says it's gonna be a hot one-bring a hat and sunscreen!

The original plan was to hike the Upper Overnight Loop but that changed when the Ranger said turkey hunt--hunters with weapons. Plan B Lower Loop. We checked out Cane Creek Falls by the Nature Center. The sunshine on the mist from the falls made a pretty rainbow. We dropped one car at Piney Falls and drove the others to the maintenance shed overnight parking area. We sprayed down with deet - it's tick season you know-and started thru the woods. Eleven of us with Margaret leading the way. Some campers were at the first campsite, people out taking advantage of the warm weather. First snake sighting--a black snake coiled up asking us to not bother him; not a problem for me, I don't mind taking a wide berth. We saw several yellow violets and the leaves of puttyroot, pipsissiwa, and rattlesnake plantain in the woods. I was so looking forward to the wildflower show. We had a lady with us that knows her flowers and was a wealth of info for inquiring minds. I was carrying my wildflower guide but couldn't walk and read at the same time. But it did come in handy for verifying some of what I found when we stopped. We started down into the gorge and WOW the wildflowers were everywhere. It began with blue violets and phlox, then star chikweed, buttercups, green violets, white and purple violets. Next was hepatica, tall larkspur, anomone, bluets and cumberland spurge. We also spotted a woodpecker as it briefly landed on a tree and then took off again.

We stopped for lunch at the bottom of the gorge by the creek. Thanks to all the rain lately the creek was beautiful and guess what- more wildflowers; pennywort, jack-in-the-pulpit, white and yellow trilliums, and violet wood sorrel. Good food and some dark chocolate covered almonds (thanks Steve) got us ready to climb out of the gorge. And see more wildflowers. Purple phacelia all over the rocky hillside, blue cohosh and squaw root.

It's quite a climb up to campsite 2 and it was getting WARM! Found a stream and wet our bandannas and hats to cool down. Got to watch out for overheating, rest stops and lots of water!. I have only been on this trail one other time and the creek was dry then. I had never seen the waterfall at the top of the gorge. It was pretty cool. When we got to it, a few of our hikers stood under it to cool off.

When we got to campsite 2 there was a backpacker already set up for camp. The pump was working so we filled up our water bottles and sat down for a little while to cool off. Then on thru the woods. Piney Falls was really putting on a show, more water coming over than I've ever seen and I've seen it many times thru the years. Five of our hikers drove out from here and the rest of us hiked on to Fall Creek Falls where the others met us with a couple more cars. We decided it was getting too late for us to walk back to the maintenance shed. We had to see the waterfall. It was beautiful- 256 feet high- highest one east of the Rocky Mountains. YES we're proud of our Tennessee State Parks. I got a ride back to the parking area to get my car.

When I drove back thru Pikeville I checked to see if there was still singing going on at the John Ross House. They had performances all day and I was hoping to catch some of it. Carrie Hassler was just ending her set and the other performers were about to have a jam session. They call themselves the Sequatchie Valley All Stars and they played Southern Rock- a little Skynyrd, Hank Jr, Jackson Brown, and some Eagles. Watched the sunset and then headed home. Beautiful hike and a beautiful day.

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