I had a great weekend full of friends, coffee and happy meals. I got together with three of my good friends – one on each day – Alisa, Laura and Mike. I spent time socializing on purpose and let cleaning my house slide once again. I suppose one day it will be clean again, but I guess I’d rather have a full Memorial Service over a clean rental property any day. Besides, there’s always tomorrow for cleaning.
I’ve been trying to get out and hike one day a week since I got back from North Carolina. There’s no sense in only doing what I love when I’m on vacation. If it gives that much back to me energy-wise, it’s worth the effort to make it happen more frequently. This morning when I got up, I didn’t really want to go. I wanted to sit on my duff, drink coffee and do some blogging. But, that little bugger Ashok ran into the kitchen and looked at me with that look on her face begging me to do something exciting today. “You want to go hiking?” I asked. She leaped into the air and started running around. “Okay,” I said. “Let me get packed and we’ll get out of here.”
It was already later than I liked, but we headed out for Clark Creek Natural Area near Pond, MS. The GPS told me it was 56 minutes from here, and we arrived at the trailhead at about 10 AM. I had been up there hiking a couple of times, but we mainly meandered around looking at waterfalls – yes, waterfalls down here – and getting lost. This time I was determined to take the Primitive Trail. The trail map said it was 6 miles, and then I’d have to hike 1.4 miles back to the parking lot.
The trail starts at a little stream and quickly heads straight up into the woods. The first waterfall was not very far from the beginning of the trail. We ran into 3 young guys that were playing around the waterfall. Ashok scared one of them on a bluff, and the kid almost dived off. He said he thought a black bear was attacking him. Ashok impressed everybody with her climbing skills, and we moved on.
It was really a beautiful place. It’s a small natural area – almost like a pocket wilderness – that is surrounded by private land. I was so surprised how much it looked like the lower Appalachians. It had more clay and no mountain laurel or rhododendrons, but the streams and boulders and waterfalls channeled Tennessee all day long. I kept having to remind myself that we only had to drive an hour to get home. I’m going to have to look up the geological history of the place. I imagine that as the Appalachians age and decay, they will one day look very much like this.
I ran into a young couple named Miguel and Esmerelda when I had stopped to contemplate my navel beside a stream bed that was particularly lovely. We chatted for awhile, and Miguel told me about getting lost up here one time. After that, we gave each other space but basically hiked along the same path the rest of the way. I waited for them at a particularly tricky place to warn them where to find the trail, and they showed me where the two hidden waterfalls were located. Ashok loved Ezzie, and she got lots of pets and snuggles along the way.
Miguel and Ezzie
Other than those two groups, I didn’t really see many people on the trail. One couple flew past me on a tricky downhill, and another family started the hike with me but split off pretty quickly. For such a busy area, the Primitive Trail was not really busy. But, it was extremely strenuous. More than once, I had to get on my knees and climb backwards down a steep embankment, and I had to lift myself up and over tree roots and boulders with my arms a couple of times. The hills were very, very steep, and there wasn’t much flat terrain at all. I am going to be sore tomorrow. It felt so good to be totally exhausted by the end of the day.
I’d like to hike this trail once a month or maybe every six weeks just to see how it changes throughout the seasons. The creek looks like it would be amazing if the water gets high in the spring. Of course, I’m not sure how I’d cross it if it was really high. When I was in Michigan, I lived really close to a lot of National Lakeshore trails, and I ran on them all the time. I got to know the trails in all seasons, and it was so fun to see how they changed throughout the year.
We saw a deer and some squirrels. That was the only wildlife we encountered. The 1.4 mile walk to the parking lot was more heavily traveled, and we saw lots of hikers on the way out. When I came out here in the summer, there were lots of families dressed in swimsuits going to swim in the waterfalls. Today we saw hikers. They were a bit more serious and a lot quieter than the squealing bunch in the summer. It was really, really nice.
Enjoy the pics, and if you’ve never been out there, put the Pond General Store in the GPS and head out. Be prepared. Wear hiking boots. It’s steep and rocky. You don’t have to do the Primitive Trail. There are plenty of other shorter trails, and someone told me today that there are 42 waterfalls in that area. Bring a picnic lunch and make a day of it. Pretend you took a short trip to the mountains. You’ll believe it by the time you are done.