My fiancé and I love a good hike, something with stunning views and we are willing to work for it. But, this hike really changed everything.
We had just moved to AL in August and had not really had a chance yet to explore the Tennessee River valley yet, so last week I picked a hike 2 hours away with some good views. The picture below was the only map I could find, notice the lack of a scale. Looking back there were so many clues that this would be more than we bargained for. But, I was optimistic because in southern TN these “mountains” are just large hills, so I used the Elder mountain for perspective.
There were no reviews on this hike and nothing regarding the difficulty of the hike. But, I thought hey, I’ve done difficult hikes in northern WI, I can do whatever they have.
We pull up at 1ish, after noting that the road names on the map are different than what google maps has and some roads on the map do not exist while other roads are not on our paper map. Okay cool, no big deal. We get out and decide to go to Snoopers Rock Overlook. Now, this was a sight to see!
This was literally three steps from the car, further giving me optimism that we can do this whole loop in a few hours. We saw this couple who just came off the trail we were going to go on, not a bead of sweat to be seen. So, Trevor and I are on our way. Then I see it, a sign that says “Natural bridge three miles.” I turn to him and say, “woah! There is no way we can do this all today”, he says I bet we can. Now, I have lead backpacking trips before, for beginners maybe 6-7 miles would be the max, note we would be carrying 40+ pounds on our back. Just glancing at this we have many more miles than that to do the whole loop. But, we didn’t drive this whole way to just go back so we start going.
The trails I am used to are well kept and one can clearly see the path and distinguish it from the normal ground. In this case, one had to have a good eye to noticed the slightly more trampled leaves compared to the non-touched leaves. Whatever, I had a good eye and stayed on the trail.
Now, this first portion was ROUGH! SO many switchbacks and steep inclines, do you see those noted on the map? NO! But after an hour and a half, I stop and say, “dude, where is this?” We pull out google maps and she says another half mile, you know just one of those, ‘right around the next turn things.’ HA! Another half hour of sweaty, wheezy, grumpy hiking, we come across this great, grand, oh wait is that is? Natural Bridge. Yea, it was just two cliff-like rocks that come together, with a gap between them than an adult could fall through. Such. A. Let. Down. Not even a view, just some rocks.
Trevor and I sit down to assess our situation. We did not want to go back the way we can that was tortuous. I have not mentioned yet, the plants that were covered in thistles that reached up past your ankles and lined and crossed the trail. SO. MUCH. FUN. Anyways, we decide to keep going and just go till we meet up with the ATV trail to get back to the road to go back to parking from there. Google said, about 3 miles, but mind you these roads were not on google maps, so it was a severe estimation.
Thankfully this section was much easier to hike, it was relatively flat. By now we were able to really book it. Now here comes the climax of the story, don’t want you to miss is. I hear some rustling in the woods, these woods were nearly silent otherwise so I stopped to find the commotion. Lo and behold, an armadillo running through the leaves, jumping over logs, and giving his all to run. All that I have known about armadillos is that they are desert animals, I have only seen dead ones on the side of the road up until now. So, seeing one running full force in a forest was a sight to see. Picture a deer running gracefully through the woods, now give that deer short stubby legs, and armor, and that’s what I saw – very clumsy and awkward but A for effort. So funny, be sure to go google armadillo running and watch some videos.
Back to the mindless hiking. Trevor and I did share laughs and conversations, this wasn’t just a hate-filled walk by now, not yet :P.
I’ll spare you some mindless details and just let you know after some trouble we did find the ATV trail, by now another 2ish hours had passed, our feet hurt, and we were really beginning to hate this. The rest of the walk was on gravel/sand roads that were wet and spotted with turkey prints and poop. Trevor also drank what he thought was the last of the water, what dude, why would you do that. Luckily, I pulled out one last Nalgene. But still. Dude.
Google now says we have six miles left to the car. ****. Some French was said, but what were we going to do. And mom, this was exactly like that time in the boundary waters, except I couldn’t get out and swim (a story for another day). We kept on trudging along. The last three miles were not as eventful or funny as the first 6, because well, by this time it sucked.
At one point though I sat down on the road, and we started throwing rocks at each other and had a good laugh at our situation (it reminded us of when we went to Chicago and had awful luck, again that is a story for another day). And in that moment, I swear we were infinite. JK, on a sappy note it gives me a great warmth on the inside that even in awful times fully because of our own actions we can sit and have a good laugh. What a good guy, a trooper, he could have been complaining about how we could have sat on the couch all day.
The last 2 miles went so fast compared to the first 10, we stumbled upon the car was earlier than expected. It was now 5:30 and we had done 12 miles. We went straight to dairy queen. Never to wear shoes again.
Until Next time,