Day 1: Arrival
First stop, Cloudland Canyon State Park Visitor Center. We checked out the visitor center and obtained information and maps for the park. It was cool to see how many camp sites were around the area for future endeavors. After scoping out the visitor information and reading plenty of warnings, and skimming the huge list of rules smooshed together with tiny writing, we drove to a central location and followed some easy paths and took pictures of the canyon.
Day 2: Hike
Today was the day we decided to take the journey around some trails! We started our day in the vacation rental, followed by an interesting event during lunch, and finally back to Cloudland Canyon State Park. We chose the red trail to start because the Park Ranger was directing traffic to an overflow area due to parking in the area we had visited yesterday being full. One of the cool things about being re-directed, is that you can have new adventures and meet new people! What do you know? We ran into some experienced hikers: with the boots, backpacks, and gear; that happened to be from the Atlanta area. The three of us asked for guidance to get to the waterfalls trail and thought we were ready to go. However, we didn’t make the turn and went around in a circle! Just like us… throwing things in circles…
After returning to the start and laughing about our experience, we decided to drive to the area where the waterfall trails were more accessible. We started at the top and found some scary sidebars with cliffs without railing to explore. Once we took a few mandatory selfies, we walked back up and headed on our journey to middle Earth where the waterfall misted in wait. On the route down, all the people were smiling and laughing, signs of a leisurely stroll really. But something was noticeably different on the people climbing back up on the stairs. We ignored this for now and continued our smiling journey. There was plenty of rock formations, greenery, bugs, dogs, and families all around… corona who?…
Now that we finally made our way to the bottom, we had to rest because our legs and thighs were shaking from the trek down. So we sat together before going off-trail to get closer to the waterfall. What a treat, there were people who had hiked a different path at the top of the waterfall so they had an amazing view of the scene, but we got all the cool mist coasting off the waterfall to cool us down. Of course at this point, my lower back injury was inflamed and screaming at me for overworking myself too soon during the recovery process. At this point, we all just sort of wandered and climbed around the rocks and balanced on the fallen trees and enjoyed watching little ones do the same. It is a fantastic feeling…playing…
Of course, before the looming return hike to the top, we run into our acquaintances from home. It was a nice discussion before the impending struggle to return from the divine oasis. Now, fortunately the creators of the trails and stairs built seating along the way, so every 20 or so steps there was a small resting area. We realized now that the reason for the strained expressions on the climb back up wasn’t from a bad experience, but rather from the difficult climb to civilization. It must have taken twice the time to climb up as it did down, and we all sort of stopped and started at our own pace. Eventually, we met at the top and returned to the vacation rental.
Now, I wish I could tell you we had an exciting day afterward, but the pain relievers and naps told us otherwise! Still, what a great day enjoyed with close friends!
Day 3: Recovery
A recovery day… yes we definitely needed that! However, one of my friends is an entrepreneur and starting a business, so they were up at 05:00 working… kudos for their diligence!
I woke up around 07:30/08:00 per my usual morning ritual of starting coffee and enjoying the sun gleaming through the windows or on the deck. Our other friend, decided to really sleep in, but to their defense, they are a night owl and used to being awake late and up late.
We hadn’t really planned much for today because we had the feeling we wouldn’t have the energy for another big adventure. So we took a drive to Chattanooga! We went to the river area near the aquariums and strolled around taking pictures and feeling the heat and humidity off the riverbank. Today was indeed Memorial Day, and as such plenty of people were visiting the memorials along the pier and around the city. After strolling around a bit and having the Sun sap more energy out of us than we had to give, we decided to visit our friend’s home in Chickamauga. On the way of course, we went through the battlefield area and detoured to see several of the hundreds of monuments. We even got to see a deer taking a stroll in the woods. What a solemn feeling passing through the monument area, with monuments dedicated to different states, people, and battles. After paying respects, I needed a recharge, and we needed a sweet treat so off to grab coffee and ice cream!
From there is was a half hour drive to our friend’s house. Such a beautiful drive in the country too! Even lost signal several times! The charming home was guarded by a vicious dog that seemingly became tamed once the owner introduced us. We had lovely conversations, learning about our friend’s childhood and family, and then off to the vacation rental for our final night of leisure.
We got back and all agreed it was time to relax with an adult beverage of our choosing, along with tidying up things for an easy departure in the morning. One of our friends decided to head out that evening. After a good night’s rest, and a few cups of coffee, we departed back to our homes and everyday life.
What a privilege to spend time with trumpeting friends without playing trumpet!