I’m finally doing my penultimate round of hikes. Next month, I will finish them all off. But, today, I managed to complete three parks (because they had a limited number of trails). We started this morning, early (7:44 a.m.), at Booker T. Washington Park just outside of Chattanooga. It was both quiet and relatively cool (72º F) as we started the nearly 4-mile loop.

Booker T. Washington State Park on Lake Chickamauga. Zenrock by Frank.

Booker T. Washington State Park on Lake Chickamauga. Zenrock by Frank.

The next stop was Hiwassee-Ocoee Rivers park, another of Tennessee’s linear parks, created for folks to enjoy rafting and kayaking on these rivers. But, this is a hiking book and the park boasted one trail–Gee Creek Falls Trail–rocky and somewhat difficult, but the reward was a tenth of a mile of beautiful cascades and falls.

Gee Creek Falls

Gee Creek Falls

 

I saw a dung beetle on the trail!

I saw a dung beetle on the trail!

We ended the day at Fort Loudon State Park, the site of a British fort during the French-Indian Wars. The Cherokees and Brits got along during the war, but afterwards an unending series of retributions from both sides destroyed both the fort as well as the British who occupied it. Needless to say, a lot of Cherokee and their homes were demolished as well. Truly sad. The Meadow Loop/Lost Shoe Loop trails we hiked were quite lovely until we reached the meadow and realized that thunderstorms were flanking us from both the east and west. It was thundering ominously as I raced across the meadow trying to reach the shelter of the woods, and by the time we were hiking along the shores of Tellico Lake, the winds had whipped up the waves and a downpour seemed imminent.

Fort Loudon Meadow Loop--approaching storm by Frank.

Fort Loudon Meadow Loop–approaching storm by Frank.

But, we kept on hiking, resolved to a good soaking, and managed to return to the car, after a 4+ mile hike, dry and thankful. We were barely out of the park before the skies opened up and we were driving in blinding rain. But, we were dry. Lots of elevation gain and loss today, and I am bound to be feeling it tomorrow, but I will gladly sacrifice sore muscles for having avoided being struck by lightning and stuck in a downpour.

Okay, I had to photograph these despite the possible rain.

Okay, I had to photograph these despite the possible rain.

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