Feeling mousy? Think about that for a minute. Is there anything less shy and timid than a mouse? Mice are bold, they scurry through hazardous domains where creatures are lurking to destroy them, braving obstacles, climbing and jumping to get to their prize!
|Don't see many of these anymore!|
On Monday I drove over to the Big Creek section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park to spend the night. The campground is first come first served tent only and I did not arrive in time to snag one of the 12 sites. Not to worry, the camp hosts at the group campground allowed me to set up over there and I shared it with one other quiet couple and there was zero campfire smoke! It was so amazing that I forgot to take a picture but it looked just like the one at Elkmont. Like the other GSMNP bathrooms there was running water and flush toilets but no electrical outlets or showers. More on that later!
Since I was at Big Creek I decided I was "feeling mousy" and to re-hike Mouse Creek Falls. Cory and I hiked it with Sharon in February of 2015 and it was fun seeing it again all lush with spring growth. It is two miles from the trailhead to the falls, all uphill of course, but at a comfortable rate of ascent.
|Last of the "Wake Robin" trillium|
I saw a few Fire Pink up on the rock face, but it was the deep red of the Wake Robin Trillium that really took my breath away! I was so glad to have spotted one before they were all gone.
At about the 1.5 mile mark is a little side trail that takes you to a small cascade on Big Creek called Midnight Hole. The water cascades over two very large boulders to a deep green pool. It was so peaceful I opened up my pack to find a snack and discovered the last of my cherry dark chocolate bars which made me laugh since Mark from Box Canyon Blog mentioned eating one recently.
From there it was a quick half mile up Mouse Creek Falls where it spills down into Big Creek.
It was hard working lugging that extra five pounds of tripod in my pack, but I was glad that I did so I could get shots like these!
Another 3/10 mile up the trail a bridge crosses Big Creek and I could see the old railroad grade off to the side. Did they think that little log across the entrance was going to deter a bold mouse like me?
It didn't stay open looking for more than 50 feet and then the forest started overtaking the berm.
When it got even thicker I moved out to the creekside. But it wasn't long before the boulder hopping came to an abrupt end and I had to go back upstream and re-enter the thick of things.
I had seen a peek of the waterfall from that boulder strewn spot though, so I was not to be deterred. Even if that meant I had to crash through the rhododendron at a snail's pace.
Going slow has its rewards though. Otherwise I wouldn't have seen that snail (when I was crawling under a downed tree on my hands or knees) or the fruiting bodies of these Wolf's Milk slime moulds when I was climbing over another downed tree.
Sweaty and exhausted I pushed my way trough the last tangle of bushes and emerged at the falls. It was quite a surprise for the folks gathered at the viewpoint on the other side of the creek.
Of course now that meant I was on display and they enjoyed the show while I rinsed my gritty arms and face in the pool at the base of the upper falls.
There wasn't much to do once I was there except take a picture and plunge back into the snarl of roots and branches. Going back was easier, it only took me 20 minutes to go that 3/10 mile, keeping an eye out for snakes the whole time! Luckily for this mouse the snakes were off snoozing somewhere else. I don't regret the adventure, I always enjoy going off trail and tackling obstacles, but I wouldn't recommend it and I wouldn't do it again.
Back at the parking lot I had 5.5 miles on my shaky, filthy legs, and sweat and spider webs everywhere. Remember my comment about the lack of showers? Thinking I was being clever I drove over to the empty horse camp and darted behind the shower building with a jug of water for a quick rinse. Of course as soon as I had stripped down and started my makeshift shower a pickup truck pulled up and caught me in my birthday suit! I grabbed up my clothes and backed into the mens bathroom and was thankful when I came back outside that they were gone. If they were the same group who watched me scurrying out from beneath all the shrubbery from the viewpoint at Mouse Creek Falls I think they would understand why I had braved exposing myself.
I uploaded Movie Maker to my laptop to do some quick and easy movie editing again and so I made a little movie of my hike. I did not include the nude scene so it's safe for the kiddies to watch!