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Nature Photography

Adventure At Paine Creek

Originally, my intention was to comb the rock bed along Richland Creek. Given low seasonal water levels across the Cumberland Plateau, I hoped to observe interesting underlying geological formations. However, things changed when I arrived.

You’ve probably never heard of Paine Creek. It’s a rather obscure creek streaming down a mountain side along the Laurel-Snow Trail, in Dayton, Tennessee. I’ve visited this park before, and traversed the rocky field of boulders along Paine Creek, though always wondered what was beyond the last waterfall.

Early into the hike, I approached a small wooden bridge over Paine Creek. Built upon stone columns erected in the early 1900’s by the Dayton Coal & Iron Company, the area has many remnants from that era, including old mine entrances into the mountain – one of which is situated directly under a waterfall. Once again, I opted to follow a trail spur uphill along the creek, beginning what would on this occasion become a 7-hour journey.

There are several small waterfalls upstream, each of which becomes increasingly difficult to access. Boulders ranging in sizes over 20-feet pepper the landscape, requiring hikers to go around, climb over, or, in some cases, traverse narrow passageways. It would be necessary at times to backtrack, as ones line of sight forward is often imperfect, routes of which subsequently proved impassable.

In addition to sufficient footwear, physical conditioning, food and water, I would suggest that perhaps the most important element for a hiker in such circumstances is discretion – knowing when to say no, so as to more closely examine secondary options. The cost of bad judgement can be high, and slippery moss-covered rocks were a dangerous and constant concern.


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Waterfalls

Here are a few photographs of small waterfalls along Paine Creek –

Waterfall & Mine

The following photographs feature the furthest waterfall which I’d previously visited, until this hike. In this area, high walls of the gorge envelope the falls on both sides, while the ledge above the falls is beyond reach. A particularly interesting aspect to these falls is that, with the exception of high water levels, the flow of water originates solely from the interior of an old mine entrance. As I would later learn, water from the creek above seeps through an underground passage into this mine. Having a look inside, I could see the front edge of a pool of water, and the footprints of a small animal. Fortunately, no bears!

After enjoying this setting for a spell, it was time to move on – what was above this waterfall? As noted, I wasn’t able to climb the front of the falls, and, the gorge walls stood approx. 50-feet tall. So, I backtracked a short distance to the trail and continued uphill.

After a period of time, and with temperatures approaching 90-degrees, I began to wonder how much further I’d need to travel along this trail before reaching the top. It seemed as if I must have already ascended an estimated 300-feet in elevation, far more than I’d earlier assumed would be necessary.

Onward and upward, I continued my trek and would soon encounter a 30-foot climbing rope secured to a tree on the cap-rock above. After evaluating the scenario – assessing surface conditions as being slippery for footholds, as well as my tripod continually catching the underside of protruding rocks – I opted to remain on the trail, shortly thereafter finding a better way to the top.

Top of The Mountain

Finally on top of the mountain, the trail continued beyond where the climbing rope was affixed, to a ledge with an expansive, scenic view across the valley.

The view was great, although, however faintly, I could hear the sound of water in the distance – downhill, beyond the forest. This was my goal, and so I soon continued along the edge of the mountain as far as I could. At a point, though, massive cliffs forced me into the forest without any path to follow, moving cautiously through the trees, vines, and – oh, joy – a seemingly endless quantity of sharp-thorn bushes.

I was constantly having to untangle myself from the plants and trees, often needing to remove my backpack – again, my tripod was an issue – and, at times, both climb over & crawl under downed trees.

Patience. In such situations, it’s easy to become frustrated. However, rather than plowing through dense foliage to save time, it’s important to remain patient, particularly in an unfamiliar environment. Case in point – on two occasions, reminding myself to slow down allowed for an opportunity to observe rock ledges hidden behind bushes…so, heads up!


Albeit gradual, the sound of running water began to intensify as I continued downhill, until, finally, I could see the creek through the trees below! There was, though, one last obstacle – an 8-foot high ledge with no obvious safe path of descent.

At 56 years old, weighing 235 lbs., and with bad knees – as well as experiencing fatigue from the hike – a drop from that height would be ill-advised, potentially injurious.

Hence, I began searching back and forth along the edge of the ledge to assess my options. Of course, this entailed dealing with more difficult foliage during the process, but I soon found what I considered to be a safe means of descent. I determined that if I sat down on an appreciably steep area of the hillside – covered with a thick, relatively dry moss and dirt – that I could control my speed by inching forward to contact a closely situated tree using my feet. Thereafter, grasping the branchless trunk to climb down.

As anticipated, I moved slowly and the process unfolded without a hitch. It wasn’t until I set foot on the floor of the gorge, however, that the thought crossed my mind –

I really hope there’s an easier way to leave when it’s time to go.

Beyond The Last Waterfall

Yes – I’d finally arrived and there was in fact another beautiful waterfall tucked away in this isolated, pristine gorge! My first order of business, however, was to locate a hand-towel from my backpack, wet it in the creek, and wash away the sweat, debris, bugs, and – caused by the thorns – blood on my legs.

Soon thereafter, following a careful walk-around to survey the area, I heard a rumble of thunder. A light rain followed, lasting for nearly one-half of an hour, and so I took refuge under a tree and rested while enjoying a snack I’d brought along. I didn’t mind the rain, but realized that all rock surfaces would now be extremely slippery and that any steps in the gorge must be undertaken with heightened deliberation.

Waterfall

Video

This video begins by overlooking what would be the spillway above the top edge of the lower waterfall, were a high-volume of water present. Next, a view of the upper waterfall is shown. Last, it finishes where the creek vanishes under a rock wall and into the mine below.

As it turned out, there was a 20-foot uphill scramble across the creek to the left of where this video concludes. Fortunately, the water was low – otherwise, access to this return route would not have been possible. I hiked into the forest, and, eventually, down hill and back to the Laurel-Snow Trail along Richland Creek.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this recount of my recent Adventure At Paine Creek. Thanks for visiting & enjoy the great outdoors!

Categories
Nature Photography

Water And Rock

Sun streamed through the trees into the gorge of Little Piney Creek, as I traversed the shallow waters on a morning hike at this remote location. Prints available.

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Nature Photography

Walking In Water

This is Little Piney Creek. Though the water was low, my sense of adventure was not. So, I enjoyed a pleasant walk in the forest, through the shallow water. See more.

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Nature Photography

Little Piney Creek

After reviewing my options and seeing no clear pathway to the base of Lower Piney Falls, I turned and decided to follow Little Piney Creek, with a low water line, back towards Upper Piney Falls. It was a good decision (though I later fell on my keister) and I was pleased to observe many beautiful sights in this remote gorge environment. This photograph highlights an area which was especially appealing, with unique geological outcroppings, shallow water, reflections, and sunshine streaming from around the bend.

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Prints and other items are available through my shops at Pixels and/or Fine Art America – a nice accent for your home or office!

Enjoy the great outdoors!

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Photography Structures

Under The Road

Rain and fog obscured broad views from atop the Smoky Mountains, so I decided to make frequently stops along the road, in search of less common shots. Here’s one which I found – under the road – which includes post processing adjustments. See more.

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Nature Photography

Black And White River

From the bright sun into the cool shade, water races downstream around rocks in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, near Tremont.

Prints available.

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Nature Photography

Another Roadside Attraction

Water cascades down a Smoky Mountains hillside, under branches and around moss-covered rocks. With a rainy weather system in place during my drive from North Carolina to Tennessee, low clouds were an obstacle of expansive views. So, I instead opted to take photographs at several different roadside stops – as seen here.

Prints available.

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Nature Photography

Falling Water And Bridge

Water follows gravity under a wooden bridge, over small ledges and across a striated rock-surface. I shot this photograph along a small stream at Falls Creek Falls State Park. Prints and other items are available in my galleries at Pixels and/or Fine Art America. Enjoy!

I hope you’ll find a print for your home or office!

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Nature Photography

Paw Paw Creek

Hiking through a forest near Spencer, Tennessee, I came upon this scenic waterway named Paw Paw Creek. Prints and more available.

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Nature Photography

Trail Is A Creek

No, this isn’t Bruce Creek – that’s located down a small hill to the left. This is the trail, which, essentially, has become a small creek following gravity. Better wear boots! See more.

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Nature Photography

Triple Falls On Bruce Creek

Following recent rains, I decided that it was worth the sacrifice of wet feet & muddy shoes in exchange for the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of Triple Falls (a.k.a., Little Egypt), located on Bruce Creek, near Caryville, Tennessee.

To begin, there are more than three waterfalls along this one mile out and back hike. The “triple” component of its name refers to three primary ledges from which water falls, engineered many decades ago via construction which rerouted Bruce Creek, in order to accommodate the development of highway I-75.

For those hikers interested in a mountain-top view, the trail continues beyond the waterfalls to Devil’s Racetrack, along a very steep ascent with many switchbacks. Here are a few pictures from a previous visit to the top…

Prints

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Planning a visit?

I arrived at Triple Falls before 7:30 a.m., and, to my delight, was the only person on site for the entirety of my nearly three-hour visit! However, if you happen to visit the area during nice weather on a weekend, you can expect to see several hikers along the trail. Parking is limited, with overflow along either side of Shelton Hollow Drive. It’s not a State Park and there aren’t any signs at the trailhead, nor restrooms or water. Instead, it’s marked by several boulders on your right. If you can look beyond some graffiti and discarded litter near the road, as well as traffic noise from I-75 (which dissipates with distance), you’ll certainly enjoy the hike!

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Nature Photography

Jett Bridge At Obed

On TN-298 in the Obed Wild And Scenic River National Park is an exit for Jett Bridge, located along Clear Creek. It’s one of six spots where paddlers can put in their kayaks, canoes, and rafts. The hiking trail is short, though scenic. Restrooms available. Enjoy!

Photographs

Prints

If you’d be interested in a print of any kind, visit my shop at Pixels.

More: see earlier post – Jett Bridge At Obed on November 7, 2019

Categories
Nature Photography

Clear Creek At Obed

I visited three bridges along Clear Creek: Barnett, Jett, Lily.

Clear Creek runs through the Obed Wild And Scenic River National Park, near Wartburg, Tennessee. Accessible at various points, I parked at Barnett Bridge to enjoy a 1-mile out and back hike along the creek on a mostly flat sand-trail through the forest.

It’s a very peaceful setting without traffic or people. Just nature.

Prints

If you’d be interested in a print of any kind, visit my shop at Pixels.

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Nature Photography

Black And White Water

This black and white photograph features a series of shallow terraces and running water. Photographed above Greeter Falls, in the Savage Gulf State Natural Area of Tennessee. Prints available.

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Nature Photography

Cascades At Burgess Falls

As the title suggests, these flowing cascades were photographed while visiting Burgess Falls State Park, in TN. Prints available.

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Nature Photography

Creek Among Boulders

This picturesque photograph features Big Laurel Creek, a cascading waterway which I enjoyed hiking along en route to Virgin Falls. I’ve added it to my gallery at Pixels, where visitors can find a variety of prints – great for the home, office, lobby or cafeteria setting. Thanks for stopping by!

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Nature Photography

Big Laurel Creek

I took this photograph while crossing Big Laurel Creek on my hike to Virgin Falls – located on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee.

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Nature Photography

Cascading Creek In Forest

I photographed this lovely cascading creek – Big Laurel Creek – along the trail while hiking to Virgin Falls, located near Sparta, Tennessee. See more.

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Nature Photography

Clear Creek

Located near Wartburg, Tennessee, at Obed Wild And Scenic River, this photograph features Clear Creek, as seen from Lily Bridge. See more.

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Nature Photography

Richland Creek

This scenic photography features Richland Creek, as seen hiking along the Laurel-Snow Trail on the Cumberland Plateau, near Dayton, Tennessee. See more.