Girls’ Trip! (Part 1: Cloudland Canyon)

My daughter and I recently took our 2nd Annual Fall Break Girls’ Trip. Our original plan this year was to go to Charleston again, but the hurricane the week before down in the Bahamas was causing all sorts of weather trouble for the east coast. Charleston was flooding, and there were photos online of our lodging area where people were paddling down the streets in kayaks. Seeing as how that didn’t seem like the ideal girls’ trip location for this year, we decided to look for an alternative. After a bit of searching, we settled on a trip to Chattanooga so she could see the Tennessee Aquarium for the first time.

Now, though Chattanooga was the final destination, it was not the first destination. There is plenty to see and do along the way. Our first stop en route was Cloudland Canyon. This was my daughter’s first trip there. After seeing photos from my last trip, she really wanted to see it for herself. Since I had my handy-dandy Friends of Georgia State Park Pass, we breezed right through the front gate with a friendly smile and wave from the attendant and headed straight to the lookout point and trail head. When we got there, my daughter had to put on her hiking shoes…and she didn’t like the way they fit. We walked as far as the benches at the trail head, and already, she was complaining. So, being a resourceful mother and hiker, we switched shoes. The shoes worked for me (though I still prefer my boots). Then off we headed to see the waterfalls.

We didn’t get very far before I had to stop for a photo-op though. We found the greatest tree.

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Then we started our walk down into the canyon. Before long we happened upon a rock wall (that of course reminded my daughter of MineCraft) and a little ways up the wall was a little hole that looked like a cave. I decided she could probably climb right on up there, so she agreed and gave it a try…and did very well.

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I of course didn’t try it. Those rocks were better suited to the lighter-weight and reasonably flexible. I would’ve broken something…a rock, my camera, MY HEAD! Needless to say, we did not want to take any trips to the hospital because of Mama’s foolishness, so I refrained (this time). As we continued along the path we eventually came up on a giant boulder overhanging the trail. Now the last time I was here, I only had my dog, Dixie, with me, so getting a photo to convey the shear size of this thing didn’t really work out. This time, however, I had a crazy teenage girl with me who let me direct her for photos. It is amazing how perspective can change with just a little manipulation. In the first photo, I had her stand directly under the boulder, so you can see just how massive it is.

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Then in the next photo I wanted to make it look like she was holding the boulder up. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look nearly as impressive in the second photo.

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And of course, we had to get the Hercules shot where she actually has her hands on the rock.

 

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Eventually we moved on from here and rounded the corner. In the distance, I could see the bridge that crosses Sitton’s Gulch. I wasn’t able to cross the bridge the last time because the grating hurt Dixie’s paws. This time, however, it was just us people, so across we went, and it was well worth the trip. We made it across and saw some lovely cascades beneath us, so we made our way around the trail to get a better look. As we were firing off a few shots, my daughter said, “I wish we could get down there to the bottom.”

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This of course was responded to with, “I think we can.” So down we climbed. There were plenty of sturdy tree roots and a somewhat worn footpath where others had attempted the descent. Soon we were at the bottom and trying to figure out how to get the best shots. It was absolutely beautiful down there!

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Of course, the trouble with making your way down is that eventually you have to make your way back up. After we were done marveling and exploring and photographing, we headed back over to where we came down and realized that this was going to take a bit more effort. Hand and feet were required for this climb, so the all equipment had to be secured and free from dangling into our way. Then up the tree roots we climbed back to the path. It was awesome! My daughter, however up for the challenge she may have been, does not find hiking to be her sport of choice after this adventure.

Soon we made our way back across the gulch and onto the path for the first waterfall. Along the way we passed more “MineCraft” rocks…

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…and a leaf stuck to the canyon wall.

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And eventually we made it to Hemlock Falls. Here I got a few shots of the waterfall disappearing into my daughter’s head.

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And a couple of good shots too.

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And always remember when you’re out hiking to stay well hydrated.

 

 

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Then we decided to head over to see the other waterfall. The path from one fall to the other is a bit of a walk, so we got several pictures along the way as we stopped to catch our breath. It was getting into the golden hour, so I managed several beautiful shots of reflections in the water.

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Eventually we made our way over to Cherokee Falls. You can get right up to (and into if you want) the water here. Of course there were a few fun shots just before the waterfall came into view.

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My crazy girl was the first one to make it out to the rocks at the water’s edge, so I got some really great shots of her there.

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Then we got busy taking shots of the waterfalls…

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Then, of course, there were more fun shots.

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Ahh…I just love taking pictures of that beautiful, silly, crazy, wonderful girl.

Finally, we headed back up out of the canyon and got a few shots from the lookout point.

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And before long, we were back in the car driving over Lookout Mountain headed to Chattanooga.

 

 

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