I haven’t been camping in a long time, so this trip has been a long time coming. I don’t think Brett had been camping in a while either, so it was decided that both of us should go have a good camping trip. I had been preparing for this by stocking up on items that I had that were either too old, or didn’t own. Of course one of my “old” items for hiking that I had was apparently too old, as you’ll see below.
We left Friday afternoon after work for a 4 hour drive to Tennessee. Upon arriving at the parking lot, we came across this little monster, which we nicknamed, “Shelob”:
I was kind of surprised at how many people were there, as the campsites were all designated and we had some slight difficulty finding an open campsite. After stumbling around in the dark for about 25 minutes or so we eventually found an open site.
I think by the time we eventually setup camp and got everything ready it was pretty close to midnight at the point. We were at least able to have about 30 minutes of chill time and have some nice fireside chatting to wind down the long drive. To the left you can see my newly bought hammock at night, and then after a decent 6 1/2 hour sleep in the morning to the right. I kind of figured we would get up early with the sun, but was still surprised to find out that we eventually had been able to pack up and start the hike to our next camping spot at about 7:30am. We had a fairly long hike to our next spot, but the weather was very nice and I was able to get some really good pictures on the way there.
This is the “Stone Door” section of the park. Apparently there is repelling, which made me disappointed that we didn’t have repelling equipment.
Laurel Overlook. Probably a good 300-500 feet above the valley where we would eventually hike down to.
I was amazed at the variety of wildlife and flowers that were found in the valley. This was the first variety of flowers that we encountered near the trail head of the Savage Creek Gulf.
About halfway through the trail, we eventually stopped to take a break and grab some water. While Brett rested, I took some time to try and take some pictures of the pool, creek, and surrounded areas. To take this picture, I had to forge through the creek several hundred yards up from our stopping point, and even then it was difficult. At the stopping point, the water swirled around into an underground chasm, and somehow by accident I managed to take this picture and really liked how the effect turned out.
Further up the path, these vibrantly colored flowers began to show up.
And even further, these did as well.
Near the end of our hike, my boots started to fail on me. I had noticed it near the halfway point, and had attempted a crude patch-up of medical tape, but even that began to wear out after the last harsh mile of the trail.
Thankfully, I had brought some diving boots because we had planned on swimming, so I at least had some footwear protection on the hike back to the car. Unfortunately, we had to take the easy way back because of my shoe complications, and my diving boots were really not well suited for long hikes.
It was a very tiring, but enjoyable trip and I can’t wait to get the opportunity to go again. I’ve omitted some pictures for the sake of time and space, but you can find more pictures of our trip in my Flickr Photostream.