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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Appalachian Trail ~Laurel Fork Falls ~ Dennis Cove, Hampton, TN {J. Commons Photography ~ Dennis Cove}

After our shortened Labor Day hike we drove out to the Dennis Cove trail head to find it and see what we were in store for.  The hubby had warned me about ever going up there on my own because of a lot of criminal activity around the campground area, so this was my first drive out there.  The road climbed high up the mountain with lots of switchbacks and some amazing views overlooking Hampton.

These photos looking over Hampton are from Labor Day, but it was the same view Monday, too!

After our trip up there I did some research on Dennis Cove and learned that there were waterfalls and several creek crossings.  I was so excited!  Deanna and I were super excited to head out on this trail.  When we arrived there were two cars in the parking lot.  Near one car was a man in camo carrying a fishing pole.  No concern.  Near the other car there was another man in camo with a rifle slung over his shoulder.  Seriously.  A rifle.  It's National Forest land, I can't imagine hunting is allowed.  We evaluated the situation for a few minutes while we gathered our stuff.  I was more than a little relieved when two other people joined him and they got in their car and left!

The beginning of the trail was wide and flat and very easy walking.  I was a little disappointed to find that foot bridges had been built over the creeks, but they were cute.  There has been little rain over the last few weeks, so the creek crossings weren't much anyway.

I really enjoyed being around the creek and hearing the water along most of our hike.

Sasquatch? Bear paw?  Or just a rock that has been moved?

I loved how the pine needles were casting a shadow on this rock.

 Although I was disappointed about the creek crossings, I loved this bridge! This was the first view of it as we came around a corner.

The fly fisher is kind of hard to see, but he is in the middle of the picture on the left bank.

Up to the bridge had been a fairly flat, easy hike.  This is what awaited us on the other side and it was only the beginning!

Light at the end of the tunnel.

I really want to know what this green sequin fell off of and why was it on a hike?!

The trail appeared to continue on straight ahead, but there were several markings pointing us down the hill to the falls.

A view about halfway down to the falls.

It was hard to capture in a photo what this part of the hike was really like.  It was mostly steep stone-like steps.  Some were loose.  Did I mention I had rolled my ankle a few days earlier?  This was so difficult!  I was so glad I made it all the way down with out hurting myself more.  But I was not looking forward to the climb back up. (Deanna was actually checking her voicemail in this photo!)

The pay-off.  Totally worth having to climb back up those rocks! Laurel Fork Falls.

I did not want to leave the falls, I couldn't stop taking pictures!  Also, I didn't want to climb the rocks!  But climb the rocks I did!!!!  I am slowly getting myself in shape and I have asthma. I had to stop several times and let my heart rate come down, but I made it.

Animal of the hike - a little frog.  Or toad.  I don't know the difference!

This was the most difficult hike we have completed to date.  I know there is no way I could have done this hike last year or even at the beginning of this year.  But I did it and I am so proud of myself!!  And we are even planning to return to the falls after some rain to see them fuller.  Hike distance - 5.4 miles.  Time 2 hours 25 minutes (that includes the at least 20 minutes we spent at the waterfall!)

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