Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Blog Is A Slog - Catching Up


Sorry if following my blog is like driving in bear traffic. I hope at least that you've enjoyed seeing the bison. :-)

Perfect Is the Enemy Of Good

Today is March 9, 2017. Our first RealImaginaryWest road trip was in July 2015, and our second was in July 2016. I'm still editing them. :-/ There are other trips in the Eastern United States I'd like to share with you too. There are also plenty of articles I have planned, like tips on how to road trip and tent camp more successfully so you can avoid some of our mistakes, and tips on equipment and places to see. And this blog is far from the only project I'm behind on.

But alas...I have been working against depression for the better part of the last two years, and that's slowed me down. I have been battling perfectionism, carefully editing every photo I've shot and every line of text I've written to make sure it's vibrant, interesting, informative, fun, and...perfect. >:-/ I love looking back on what I've finished so far—but I am constantly fighting the urge to go back and rewrite and rearrange things until I get the larger project finished.

The good news is, I think I am going to win the war! My ambitious goal is to have all of my journal entries from RealImaginaryWest 2015 and 2016 edited and up before we leave on our next big road trip. This is really important to me because I keep thinking of all the cool places we've been and I still wonder how my photos turned out. I spent so much time creating so many images and writing so much background on our travels...I want to see these projects finished more than anyone!

So if anyone is actually reading this blog, I hope you'll feel rewarded as I actually deliver! I have big plans and I believe that getting super sick four time in the last two months may have actually uncovered key underlying causes to my depression. This means that I will hopefully finally have the health I need to focus and see this through. I look forward to finally getting our stories out there to share. I also hope more than anything that I'll have inspired other people to get out of their comfort zones and explore this wonderful world we live in! Hopefully I can share what you won't find in the brochures that will help you to be well prepared when you embark on your own adventures!

Hey, How Was 2016?

Anyway, enough about my craziness—let's talk about RealImaginaryWest 2016! Our first trip in 2015 was exciting, and I think Becky and I both enjoyed ourselves, but we flew very much by the seat of our pants. Becky did a marvelous job planning everything up through Day 4 in South Dakota, and I had made some plans on where we'd stay in the Badlands and Yellowstone, but there were a ton of gaps that I never thought through before we left. Planning your first road trip while you're on it is probably not a great idea for a couple of anxiety-plagued 30-somethings! I got manic trying to see and do everything, which wore Becky out because she functions much better with more downtime and at least some semblance of routine. I eventually wore myself out too, because I ended up at the emergency room from dehydration! Everything turned out OK (we even went hiking the day after I was in the ER) but I knew at the end of the trip that it would have gone better if we set up more specific priorities.


Our first RealImaginaryWest road trip in 2015 just about fell off the rails on Day 9 of 18. I got some incredible images, like this one, but I almost ruined things for Becky...and myself, simply by trying to do too much in a day. I immediately slowed things down and saved the trip...but better and more considerate planning on my part in the first place would have prevented this!
Therefore RealImaginaryWest 2016 was much more thoroughly planned! I actually spent a great deal of time a month or two before researching and planning which specific activities and sights were important. I made several pages of notes and created a very detailed itinerary. When I shared this with people, many wrinkled their nose and said something to the effect of, "That doesn't sound much like a vacation!" But hear me out, please!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Where We're Exploring in 2016

Becky & I will always remember 2015 as a breakthrough year. We took the road trip of a lifetime and visited so many places we'd only ever heard of or read about. Maybe we saw a few of these places on TV, but it's just not the same as experiencing it first-hand with someone you love!

But we didn't just head West last year...we headed south during the peak fall foliage and toured historic and scenic places in Appalachia as well. We had a week off and saw parts of Southern Ohio we'd never seen, drove along the eastern edge of Kentucky and into the western tip of Virginia to visit Cumberland Gap, and then camped and hiked in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cherokee National Forest along the Tennessee-North Carolina border.

Our road trip camping throughout the West emboldened us to do things we'd never done before. I never thought I could camp in a tent if the temperature dropped below 50 at night. I would never have dreamed that we could pretty much fly by the seat of our pants and find motels and campsites pretty much wherever we wanted to go. While it was nerve-wracking at times, I learned a lot about planning a road trip like this and so of course we had to do it again to apply what we learned and go see more!!! The Appalachian road trip was an outgrowth of this emboldening, but to really truly test ourselves, we needed to Go West yet again...

Lightning in a Bottle?

When we packed up our tent last October, we were ready to be done camping for the season and sleep in our bed for the next few months. As the fall and then winter went on and spring approached, we already had the fever to get out with our tent again! I pulled out the maps and decided to mark all of the national parks we still hadn't seen, and began looking for a route that would allow us to see several parks in one trip like we did in 2015.

Last year's trip was pretty easy to plan. It all started because Becky wanted to see where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived, and I saw that those places would make an easy path west to see four national parks, and that we could then swing south to visit one more in Colorado before visiting my aunt and cousins in Denver for the first time in 29 years. It really felt like the trip of a lifetime, but then again, my trip around California in 2008 felt like the trip of a lifetime too...so even though I felt like we'd captured lightning in a bottle, my prior experience made me think that just maybe we could do it again...I mean, it can't hurt to try, right???


Lembert Dome, near Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park when I toured California in 2008

Sunday, October 25, 2015

RealImaginarySmokies Day 7 - Bald River Falls & the Road Home


After packing up at Indian Boundary Campground, we visited Indian Boundary Lake and Bald River Falls in Cherokee National Forest before heading back to I-75. After a stop in Knoxville, we continued north on I-75 across Tennessee and Kentucky to Cincinnati where we picked up I-71. It rained torrentially across much of Kentucky and Ohio before we finally made it home up in Cleveland just after midnight.

Windy Thoughts

I awoke at 4am at Indian Boundary Campground in Cherokee National Forest to a much higher temperature and the wind kicking up...ugh. It had to be at least 60°F, which made me downright uncomfortable until I shed the extra layers I was wearing.

But that wind—it was as if the sky would take a deep breath and then exhale it all in one big long push. The trees swooshed around, and each time I'd tighten up—expecting rain to fall and get our tent all wet just before we'd have to pack it up! I'd hear pattering on the roof of our tent, thinking they were giant raindrops...but they were just leaves. I knew the wind couldn't be too strong though, because our tent wasn't flapping like we've seen before (De Smet!)—but the pattern unnerved me nonetheless!

With every gust I held my breath, because I just knew we were gonna get it...and then nothing would happen. I wished that I could see a weather forecast or even just the radar...I thought that knowing what's out there would help me calm down and relax. I kept thinking and working out the physics in my head...I didn't hear any thunder or see any lightning or smell that ozone smell you get when it's about to rain...maybe it was just the way wind currents and air pressure worked coming through the mountains? My mind kept racing in circles, so I finally decided to myself that this wind was not going to bring rain right now—it's probably just a warm front moving through and we'll be fine.

That wasn't much solace though. My heart wanted to go along so I could go back to sleep, but every time I'd doze off, the wind would blow hard and wake me up. I started thinking about about how great it would be to sleep in my own bed tonight. Yeah! And I could have cell service, a hard roof over my head, and I wouldn't feel so disconnected from the rest of the world and all the information I needed to go about my business. Ahhh...yes! It felt wonderful to think such thoughts!


So I decided right then...I was ready to go home. The anxiety of rain, cold, wind, mice, cutting wood, getting stuck with green wood to burn, finding a dishwashing station, not having a clean neat place for a shower...all of that would be gone if we were at home. Home is where my heart is now, so home is where we'll go! No stop-overs at some other place tonight, just heading straight on home after maybe checking out this area a bit...after all, we were by a lake and among mountains I had not yet seen, no need to waste that. So go see stuff, then drive home. Yeah! It'll be great!

So when it was light and Becky woke up, we talked about packing up and heading home. She was cool with going back a day earlier than we had to. I know her face still bothered her and made it more difficult for her to enjoy herself. I told her we were only about eight or nine hours from home, but she seemed skeptical. I would have pulled up Google Maps and showed her, but well...you know.

Panos, Wind & Fire

So before we got started on packing up everything inside the tent, I set up my pano rig to get a shot of our campsite with our super-dirty car. We still hadn't had a drop of rain, but the wind was still blowing and whipping all the trees around, wrecking my shot. I kept running over whenever the wind would die down, but the lulls would never last long enough to shoot all the way around. I eventually gave up and devoted all my energy to cooking some breakfast.

I chopped down some logs to make kindling and got a fire going...sort of. Every time I thought I had it burning, it would die down until it just pathetically smoldered. We got one round of eggs cooked, but for the second round I had to chop up a lot more kindling to get things hot enough again. I had thrown every log but one into that so-called fire and this wood simply refused to burn. I swear that the best way to extinguish any well-burning fire would have been to throw this wood into it! It was the worst firewood we've had all year long!!! The label said it was kiln-dried, but I had to wonder if they ever bothered to heat up the kiln...

In the midst of the firewood fighting my fire, the wind died down and just stayed that way. Weird! Thankfully I'd left my pano rig set up, so I ran back over and I think I finally got my shot. At last I can take down the tent!


360-degree panorama of Site 3 in Indian Boundary Campground in Cherokee National Forest. Click and drag to look around. Click the top right button to go full-screen.

A Final Farewell

So with breakfast eaten and our car all packed, there was only one thing left to do. This was the ceremonial burning of our fire-handling logs. They had been pretty good to me, and we'd used them all week. We didn't do anything crazy...I just rearranged the smoldering wood so I could throw the logs down on top. In my mind, I thought it should be like they were Darth Vader burning on the pyre at the end of Return of the Jedi. Becky and I said nice things about the logs, told them they were good, and watched them burn.

And what a contrast! A minute or two later, the whole thing came to life because of these two little logs...we had a real campfire again! We knew this was too good to waste, so we considered roasting the last of our hot dogs. However, neither of us wanted to dig to the bottom of the car where we'd buried the hot dog skewer...so we said never mind.

Then Becky broke a stick off of a downed limb nearby and fashioned it into a hot dog skewer with her knife...and voila! Hot dog time!

With our completely dry tent in our completely packed car and with our fire now burning brightly...while we roasted our last hot dogs on our last campfire of the season on what was probably our last campsite of the year...a light rain finally started. We were both very happy that it held off just long enough for us not to feel one bit rushed! In spite of our mishaps, the whole week went pretty well overall, and the whole year had brought us a lot of camping in a lot of places and with a lot of friends. It was a fitting finale.

Indian Boundary Lake

While this moment brought a great deal of contentment, the day was not over yet! The rain only lasted a minute or two, so we ate our hot dogs, put out the coals, and moved along to visit the camp store and check out the lake.

The Indian Boundary Outpost was thoroughly stocked. While not large, it had everything a tenter or RVer would need if something was broken or forgotten—food, firewood, snacks, utensils, air beds, and of course souvenirs. Best of all, they had tons of maps and the lady running it was super helpful at identifying hikes, drives, and waterfalls in the area. She helped us decide to stop at Bald River Falls, a 90-foot waterfall that's on our way to Tellico Plains and I-75.

We then drove out of the campground to the beach and picnic area on Indian Boundary Lake. It's not a big lake, but the beach was nicely maintained. There's a boat ramp and fishing pier across the lake, with beautiful mountains rising beyond.


Indian Boundary Lake this cloudy morning

Bald River Falls


Bald River Falls
We drove back out to the Cherohala Skyway and cut over to River Road/Forest Road 210, which is a narrow old logging road that follows the Tellico River. Just a couple miles east, the road crosses the Bald River on a bridge offering a perfect view of Bald River Falls. There's a sign next to the road so you don't miss it, and a small parking area beyond. It was Saturday, so there were lots of motorcycles, several photographers, and a healthy number of people here.

Things were a bit congested, but still nothing like we experienced at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I was able to shoot some stills and a 360° panorama just before the crowds built up and the rain started again. Rather than cutting straight back over to the Cherohala Skyway/TN-165, we followed behind a few motorcyclists on River Road/FR-210 as it wound alongside the scenic Tellico River.

Friday, October 23, 2015

RealImaginarySmokies Day 6 - Ghosts of Elkmont & Cruising the Cherohala Skyway


We departed Elkmont and got stuck in traffic for 90 minutes heading up to cross the park on Newfound Gap Road. We then drove US-74 west to NC-28 and NC-143 to Robbinsville. Finally, we drove the spectacular Cherohala Skyway across to Indian Boundary Campground in Cherokee National Forest.

Do We Have a Mouse?

It's always a good night for me when it's warm enough that I don't need to wear socks. Last night was one of those nights. At 4:45 I was awake, and amid the still darkness, I wondered if we had caught our mouse. We'd been trying to catch him for the last two days to no avail. He thwarted our first attempt and managed to make off with every bit of the bait.

After finding my socks inside my sleeping bag, I quietly exited the tent, trying not to disturb Becky. I walked up to the car, turned on my LED lantern, pulled on the car door handle AND—it was locked! Crap! Forgot about that...this was certainly less dramatic than I'd imagined!


Our second, somewhat more improvised mouse trap lying behind the driver seat (Photo by Becky)
I retrieved my keys from the tent, unlocked the car this time (that Toyota beep is awful loud in a dead-silent campground!), pulled on the handle AND—saw that the bottle and the sticky trap were still together, but totally jostled out of position from where I had wedged it on the floor behind the driver's seat. The outside fringe of the sticky trap had been gnawed around, just like the day before, and then I saw the box rock! The mouse was still there, but was he inside?

I slowly picked up the trap and peered in through the front—and sure enough, a long tiny tail on a little tiny mouse about two or three inches long was stuck inside! YES!!! We finally got him!!! He was small enough that he probably would have been able to get inside the bottle and eat the bait with no problem had I not added the sticky trap as an extra hurdle. I set the trap down on the picnic table and went over to the tent to share my jubilation with Becky. "We got him! Do you want to see it?"

Now What?

When Becky said no, my mind moved on to letting him out of the trap. I hadn't given much thought to this until now—and I felt profoundly sad and even guilty. This poor scared, tiny little creature was stuck in my trap and no longer in my car, but now I have no idea how to let him go. While he was obviously quite strong to be able to jostle a 12-ounce glass bottle around, he was too delicate for me to free from the sticky trap without some serious injury; furthermore, I'd probably get my fingers bitten up in the process. I could just leave him for a predator, but chances are that it too would get stuck in the trap, or worse yet the bait in the bottle could attract a black bear to investigate.

I was all out of ideas, I had no Internet service and therefore no Google, and it was still before 5am...so I asked Becky what I should do. She told me to just put him in the dumpster. :-( I felt terrible about it, but that's what I did. I hoped he would break loose in there, but I didn't think that was likely.

I concluded that I hate these sticky traps, and that I'm never going to use one again. I have no idea what I could have done better to deal with a mouse taking up residence in our car on a camping trip, but I knew the way I chose was too inhumane to use it again. (UPDATE: I Googled later and found out that you can release a mouse from a sticky trap, but it's not very easy to pull off on the road. If I'd known, I'd have tried to get him out.)

Remember folks: keep your food safe in hard-sided lockable containers, and don't leave your car open long enough for wildlife to move into your car for the winter. They can make a real mess, and it's hard to get rid of them. Out West they have a saying, "A fed bear is a dead bear," and that seems to be true for all wildlife. I know this experience has made us extra careful on the road and at home.

Shooting Elkmont

After crawling back into bed, I got up again when my alarm went off at 6:30. This was our last day here at Elkmont, and I wanted to take advantage of the still air and soft, even, early light to shoot some panoramas of our campsite and the abandoned buildings. Even the slightest breeze makes it difficult to get a clear 360° image, and the winds have been almost nonexistent first thing in the morning. I had my pano rig set up not long after first light, and thought that shooting our campsite from the top of our picnic table would offer a good vantage point. This is usually no big deal, but today I did something stupid and earned my injury for the week...

The Picnic Table Incident

I was standing on top of the picnic table next to my camera and decided to walk around and check the leveling on my panoramic head...I took my first step, and realized I had made a terrible mistake! As I set my foot down onto nothing, I thought, "Oh no, well I guess I better be ready to land on the bench!" And then I realized...I'd missed the bench! I was going all the way down! In this split second, I realized I'd better be ready so I don't twist my body all up and really get myself hurt.

So I came down on the one foot, turning myself enough that my upper body continued to fall backwards, past the bench. This saved me from bumping my head, tearing my groin, or twisting a joint, but it meant breaking my fall with my legs on the bench and my hands on the rocky ground! Ach! And when I landed, I looked up just in time to see my camera and tripod coming down after me!

Thankfully, everything landed softly on top of me. No damage came to my equipment or me, save for one sore wrist and a gravel rash on my hands. After the adrenaline passed a bit, I of course set up again and got my shot on top of the picnic table. Then I moved on to the Elkmont Historic District...


360-degree panorama of Site N1 in Elkmont Campground. Click and drag to look around. Click the top right button to go full-screen.

The Saga of The Appalachian Club and the Creation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park


Elkmont's oldest structure, the Levi Trentham cabin in Daisy Town, built in 1830

The Sneed cabin in Elkmont's Daisy Town district

The Hidgon cabin in Elkmont's Daisy Town district

A children's playhouse in Elkmont's Daisy Town district called "Adamless Eden"
I know that heading is a mouthful, but there's a story here with all of these abandoned buildings and the old cemetery I found on Tuesday. You see, back in 1908, Colonel Wilson B. Townsend set up a logging camp where Elkmont Campground is today. Lumber was transferred to his sawmill by a railroad he built and extended to Knoxville. When most of the timber was gone, Townsend advertised Elkmont as a mountain getaway. In 1910 he sold land to an affluent group of Knoxville outdoor enthusiasts who formed the Appalachian Club. They built the Appalachian Clubhouse and several vacation cabins, creating the small neighborhoods of Daisy Town, Millionaires Row, and Society Hill.

In the 1920s, the young National Park Service sought to create a national park in the Eastern United States. The movement to create one in the Great Smoky Mountains was started by certain members of the Appalachian Club. Due to maneuvering by politically influential members who desired to create a national forest rather than a national park, cabin owners in Elkmont were allowed to obtain lifetime leases when the park was created in 1937. Meanwhile, residents in less affluent areas like Cades Cove were flat-out evicted through eminent domain.

The last lease in Elkmont expired in 2001, which would have allowed the park to proceed with demolition plans it had at inception. However, some leaseholders' descendants succeeded at placing Elkmont on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. This caused a 15-year debate that finally resulted in the preservation of most of Daisy Town and two other structures further up the mountain. The rest of the buildings will be demolished early in 2017.

I unfortunately did not get to photograph inside any of the abandoned cabins, as all were posted with "NO TRESPASSING" signs, and several of them had collapsed floors and roofs. Things were still plenty creepy though! I did, however, shoot a panorama inside the Appalachian Clubhouse, which was restored in 2009. This was thanks to a ranger who was kind enough to let me in while he performed some maintenance.


360-degree panoramas of abandoned vacation cabins in Elkmont's Society Hill district. Click and drag to look around & click the arrows to see a different location. Click the top right button to go full-screen.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

RealImaginarySmokies Day 5 - Cades Cove & Abrams Falls


In spite of yesterday's misadventures, we got an early start and headed to Cades Cove. We hiked to Abrams Falls at midday and returned to Elkmont for an early dinner and our biggest fire of the week.

Did We Catch It?

My very first thought this morning was, "Did we catch it?" Yesterday we discovered a mouse had moved into our car and probably intended to spend the winter there. Rather than enjoying a hike here in the Great Smoky Mountains, we spent most of the day rearranging and cleaning everything so we could protect our food and be able to tell if our little friend was still at large. Since he loved my hot dog buns, we used a piece to bait a sticky trap that I placed on the floor behind the driver seat.

I was up before dawn and decided to check the trap before I walked to the restroom. I opened the door AND...the trap was gone?!? What?!? I moved a few things around and found the trap lying behind the car jack under the seat...and the bait was completely gone. There were gnaw marks around the paper with a couple of turds inside, but no mouse. Argh! I tossed the trap and went back to the drawing board...


Our new and improved trap...bait in a bottle, with a sticky trap gauntlet around the neck (Photo by Becky)
Obviously this little guy was stronger and smarter than I realized! While I wanted him out of my car, I had to respect his resourcefulness. We had some empty 12-ounce bottles, so I stuck another chunk of the hot dog bun deep inside on of them, and stuck the opening into the sticky trap. Now he'll have to get past the sticky trap twice, and he'll have to risk getting stuck inside the bottle. I actually hope he does get stuck inside the bottle, because it'll probably be easier to let him go. I wedged my new and improved trap underneath some stuff behind the seat and the waiting game began again...

Assessing Becky

As if battling a mouse living in our car wasn't enough yesterday, Becky battled with a log she was cutting—and it drew blood. She was OK, but she got a cut inside her mouth when it whacked her teeth, and she had a small cut above her lip. When I saw it happen I thought it would be much worse—but it turned out that there were no teeth missing and no eyes put out. Before this and the ensuing hubbub occurred, we'd planned to get up before dawn this morning to beat the crowds to Cades Cove. This is our last full day here before we move on tomorrow to Cherokee National Forest.

Since we did get to bed early and Becky was doing OK last night, I checked to see if she thought she was still up to going now. She didn't say much, because things still hurt quite a bit, but she was good to go. So we got on the road at about 7-7:30.

Cades Cove

From everything I've read, Cades Cove is the stuff at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I've seen a few pictures and read that there are animals and old farms to see, but I wasn't sure I understood the draw of this part of the park thus far. I figured maybe I would after seeing it with my own eyes.

We pulled in not long after 8am and immediately began the Cades Cove Loop Road, which runs one-way for 11 miles around the area. It was pretty country, with forested hills to the north, mountains to the south, and lots of clearings in between. Some areas were pastured off for horses, and we stumbled across a few deer. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos because I was driving. About a mile or two in, my curiosity took us down a road that turned out to be a cutoff to the other end of the loop...which led us back to where we started by Cades Cove Campground...whoops!

Breakfast at Cades Cove Campground & Picnic Area

At the time I was fine with this, because we could take this opportunity to restock the ice in our cooler and eat some breakfast. While the prices are higher, concession operations at Cades Cove Campground are much more extensive than at Elkmont. The store here is big enough that you can actually walk into it, there's a small eatery with ice cream and $5 hamburgers, and they offer bicycle rentals. I grabbed a bag of ice and drove us over to the nearby picnic area where we could dump the cooler.

Once the cooler was taken care of, I put together a turkey sandwich while Becky made a protein shake. I'm sure glad she brought her protein powder, because her mouth still hurt too much to chew anything. Her lip was pretty swollen, and her cut would bleed a little, but it was starting to heal up. After our peaceful little break, we got back on the road at close to 10am.

Gridlock, Thy Name Is Cades Cove

By now, however, hoards of people had arrived to bask in the splendor—and the gridlock—of Cades Cove. The speed limit on the hilly winding loop is 20 miles per hour, which seemed totally realistic an hour or so ago. Now things had slowed down to a 5 mile per hour crawl. Copious signs indicate that slow-moving and stopped traffic must pull off to let others pass, but few actually do. Most people looked over the age of 55, and drove like they had all the time in the world.

We did see more than brake lights and full-sized cars though. Besides spotting a few more deer, we saw a bear that had been tranquilized by park rangers. Alas, Becky was not yet up to driving, so I was unable to get any photos.

The traffic really killed the experience for me though. Most people drove like aimless wanderers, starting and stopping and slowing down for no apparent reason, not paying attention to the road, and completely oblivious to everyone else. I know I could have moved faster on a bicycle, but that too would have been terrifying because of all the absent-minded motorists. I really feel like the driving sucked any joy I might have felt over Cades Cove completely out of me. Some people may hate me for saying this, but I really hope that one day soon, Cades Cove will be restricted to shuttle buses, bicyclists, pedestrians, and horsedrawn carrages at the busiest times. I don't think an 11-mile traffic jam should be a national park experience. My thought is that if you don't enjoy traffic, and you can't get to Cades Cove at the crack of dawn or during the off-season, don't even bother with it—it'll just suck the life out of you.

Abrams Falls Trail


Abrams Falls Trailhead, on the far end of the Cades Cove Loop Road

Now we finally get to the good part of the day! After rounding the halfway point on the Cades Cove Loop Road, I told Becky there was a trailhead coming up where we could hike 5.2 miles to a waterfall. She was game, so we took the turnoff and found a spot in the gravel parking lot. We were still dressed for the chilly temperatures this morning, so we took off a few layers of clothing besides filling our water bottles and packing some trail mix for the hike.

The Abrams Falls Trail starts out around 1,700 feet, much lower than our hike from 5,000 feet at Newfound Gap two days ago. The trail doesn't really gain elevation, but it does sink 600 feet or so by the time you reach the falls. The trail follows Abrams Creek, straggling some very rocky terrain. You'll definitely want to wear a good pair of shoes for this hike. The trail rolls along at first, but then you go down and then back up two fairly strenuous hills before you go down a final hill that puts you by the falls. That last hill is a doozie on the way back, but the hike and the waterfall are worth it.


The trail crosses some very rugged terrain. At the top of one hill, you have to cross this notch in the rock to continue!

At the bottom of each ravine you cross a stream on a log like this one.

The trail offers a few vantage points high above Abrams Creek and the forest canopy.