Last Sunday was a welcome respite from the cold, and we took advantage of the good weather to drive over to Waterville, North Carolina for a hike in the Smoky Mountains.
I wanted to sneak some of this moss-covered log fencing from the parking lot into our car to take home but, weirdly, it wouldn't fit in the trunk.
It was sunny and warming, but the icicles were hanging on stubbornly.
Our hike took us along Mouse Creek, with frozen puddles in the rock crevices.
The trail followed the creek for two miles.
It was still a little damp from earlier rains, but not too muddy.
We passed Midnight Hole, although we didn't find out until later its name or that it is a popular swimming area in better weather.
I'd like to come back in the summer when it's greener, but I did love the contrast of the fallen brown leaves and all the mosses.
Mouse Creek Falls, our destination. Except we'd read that some people confused another falls with it and stopped before they got to the real waterfall. So we kept going.
We hiked almost another two miles before we asked a couple of backpackers about Mouse Creek Falls. They told us we'd been misinformed. Apparently, it was the tiny bit of water spilling over the rocks at Midnight Hole that mislead people. I honestly don't know why anyone would consider that an actual waterfall.
Turns out, we were long past the end of our trail and now on the Big Creek trail. Which was fine. There is something about watery places - rivers, lakes, oceans - that just restores me.
We decided to head back and find a place for lunch on the return hike.
That big flat rock at the edge of the Big Creek was our picnic spot.
Our lunch-time view. I've traveled to a lot of amazing places in this world but it's nice to be reminded that I also live in an area of great beauty. The Smoky Mountains manage to be gorgeous year-round.
We rejoined the Mouse Creek trail back at the waterfall and walked on to the parking lot. We're going to try to get out hiking on our rare free days whenever the weather permits.