Thursday, November 6, 2014

Seventh Anniversary Celebration : Cloudland Canyon - Day 2 Hiking

After my first night sleeping in a tent, I half expected to wake up sore and moody. Instead, I awoke to this site and it was glorious.

Craig had gotten up before me because, duh, so he had already made coffee and brought me a cup in our handy dandy stainless steel camping mugs. I felt totally legit. Like a real camper. And man, that coffee was good. Apparently there is just something about a drinking a hot cup o' joe outside in the crisp morning air. Or maybe I just really needed caffeine.

After getting dressed and ready to go, we began our trek for the day. We had decided to hike down into the canyon and see the water falls that we had heard so much about. We started out on the West Rim Loop Trail, the same as the day before. Following the trail map and the trail markers, we took it south to ensure that we didn't follow the trail up the mountain as before. However, about 1 mile into the hike Craig said that it didn't feel as though we were going south. Now, how he felt that I don't know, but we decided to check the map again to see where we went wrong. Sure enough, we had gone the wrong way. Nevermind the fact that we had gone the opposite way from the day before.

We decided to take a closer look at the trail marker and found that we had just fallen trap to something that apparently many others had before us as well. Thus the "correction" on the sign. Whomever marked this trail didn't pay much attention to their compass when they were sticking on the arrow. Many thanks for the extra 2 mile warm-up before our strenuous day ahead. No, really.

The West Rim Loop Trail took us up the mountain for overhead views of the canyon again and we took advantage of the fact that there weren't many others around. I set up my tripod to get a shot of the two of us.

From the West Rim Loop Trail, we ventured onto the Waterfalls Trail. It connected to our final destination, but proved to be entertaining in it's own right. This blaze states :

Random Fact : 27 million years ago a "T-Rex" slashed this tree with his claws.

Looks pretty plausible to me. What do you think?

Since we hadn't taken a shower {roughing it and all}, Craig decided to rinse off in the previous week's rain water.

One of the boasting features on this trail is this huge "hanging rock". I see a tortoise head or a triceratops sans horns in this thing.

For perspective. See, it's huge.

Right before the hanging rock began the 1,200 stair steps that we climbed down. No big deal going down really, but we knew we had to go back up later. I was already not looking forward to it.

We took in the glory of Hemlock Falls, where I took several moments to shoot it. I then asked an older couple who were trying to take a 'selfie' if they wanted a picture taken of them. I positioned the camera to include all of the fall colors, the waterfall, and of course them in the frame {landscape}, but was then told by the gentleman that "no, you need to turn the camera the other way" {portrait mode}. They got a shot of themselves from the waist up with a tree trunk behind them and a little of the waterfall showing for good measure. Hehehe, whatever you want, man.

We continued on our track to Sitton's Gulch Trail by crossing this completely unnerving bridge. It may look beautiful from this angle, but trust me the metal grade walkway that moves when people walk across it freaked me out. Let's not forget that the reason it exists is so you won't fall over the waterfall below.

After the death-defying journey across the bridge, we found a quiet place to lunch on some huge boulders in the middle of the river.


Taking the trail a little farther brought us to a ton of gorgeous spots to stop and admire the beauty of God's artwork.

Of course, we also monkeyed around a bit. I slay myself.

We also found nature's own little cup holder. How convenient is that?!

Again with the hair head washing. I tell ya, the boy is obsessed.

Heading back up the stairs and with the end in sight, I was unsure as to whether my heart was going to explode out of my chest at that moment. Those steps were no joke. I seriously almost died. Ok, maybe not completely seriously...but seriously.

Only after completing the aforementioned trails did we find these warning signs. Would've been good to know prior to starting that trek. Nah, we would have done it anyway.

On the way back to the camp site, our legs were beginning to tire and I found more reasons to stop to rest mine. Like finding entrances to fairy lands...

...Or pops of color amidst the browns.

 By the time we made it back to camp, we were tired and felt like our legs were made of jello. All said, we hiked 8.5 miles that day. To say that we were tired was an understatement, but it was a good tired. A sense of accomplishment goes a long way in boosting spirits. After changing clothes we settled in for the evening. I will tell you all about it next time!

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