The continuing stoooory of a quack whose gone to the dogs…

So. What IS it about national parks that just brings out the stupidity in people?

More Stupid Tourist Tricks:

On the way to Cades Cove is a BIG, swift, fast-flowing waterfall, with a parking area and lots of BIG WARNING SIGNS telling you that the water is very fast, with a strong down-current, and very dangerous.

So. Brett & I pull into the parking area and sit for a few minutes, oooooing and aaahing over the waterfall, and the water-vapor-breeze flowing up from it. To our left are Big Rocks jutting up from the stream, probably a good 25-30 high, above the water’s surface.

I’ll pause here a moment to note that most of the streams we’ve seen so far run no more than waist deep, and this appeared to be no exception.

As we’re sitting & oohing & ahhhing, a van pulls up — some Methodist church youth group, according to the logos emblazoned on its side. And out piles a horde of teens, with an adult who shouts something about how long they’ll be there.

And the boys are all in jams, and immediately head down the trail and find the tops of said Big Rocks, and stand there for a few minutes, egging each other on…until one young idiot jumps off.

Okay. You have waist-deep water (if that), a 30-foot drop, an unknown area that you can’t see down into very clearly, and lots of Big Warning Signs about the currents.

To quote Brett, “At least he had the sense not to dive head-first.”

He appeared to have survived — he surfaced and started yelling something at his friends, but we didn’t stick around. I really did NOT want to be delayed by having to give a witness statement to a Park Ranger.

So. ENOUGH of tourist stupidity. The REAL reason one goes on Vacation?


Okay, okay, there were pretty mountains & streams & long hikes — WE MADE IT UP CHIMNEY TOPS!! —

— oh, er, I guess that DOES need some explanation, huh?

The Chimney Tops is a strenous trail that takes you straight up the side of a mountain to climb over rocks & stand at the summit to see REALLY REALLY FAR AWAY; you climb 1350 feet in about 2 miles until you’re over 4000 feet above sea level, and most of that ascent is in the last mile. About a year and half ago, during our first attempt at the trail, we had to stop about 3/4 of the way up — it was just too much. On the way down, though, I slipped on loose shale and twisted my knee really badly, ended up spending the rest of the trip in a brace.

This year, we did a rematch. And yes, it was worth every ache, every stop for breath in the thin air (yeah, we’re a couple of Ohio lowlanders), and every clamber over rocks. The summit was sheer, bare rock that you could clamber over and up to sit on & just see for MILES.

Next year, we’re taking on the Ramsey Cascades, the highest falls in the park.

I should also note here that NO, we didn’t get pictures. I normally don’t take cameras with me when I go anywhere; my camera is in my head, and NOTHING can match the memory of the wind & the air & the space & the treetops & the surrounding mountains…



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