March 16: Waterfall, river, and fried catfish!

8:17 AM EDT, Airbnb
The rooster crows for about an hour before Jaret and I start getting out of bed. We have no plans ahead of us because we’re terribly sore from yesterday’s hike. His knees are wrecked and my hip has been popping, which means that today is a chill day. Out on our front porch, we eat breakfast — eggs, bacon, and avocado — while looking out into the Smokies, the perfect way to eat breakfast. We head out into the mountains again, looking for a place to relax.

10:42 AM EDT, Sugarlands Visitor Center
We stop by the visitors center to get a couple things for ourselves. Me — a cap and stickers, of course. Jaret — a map. We ask some park rangers where some good spots to hang out would be and he recommends Laurel Falls and anywhere in Greenbrier. We make the decision to go to Greenbrier, do the Porter Creek Trail to see the waterfall, and then hang out somewhere along the river.

11:51 AM EDT, Porter Creek Trailhead
We start the Porter Creek Trail sore, but ready. The ranger told us the waterfall should be about 2.5 miles out of the 7.2 miles of the trail, so we are prepared to hike only 5 miles today as opposed to the 10 we did yesterday. The foot traffic is light and the trail is mostly even and has slow inclines, so we have nothing to worry about.

12:49 PM EDT, Porter Creek Trail
We arrive at a neat spot, perfect for a picnic or a break. It’s 1.7 miles in, marked by a bridge with a narrow walkway, but wooden handrails on both sides. It’s nice and cool because of the river and the breeze it carries when the water tumbles over the rocks.

 

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The narrow bridge across the river

 

12:58 PM EDT, Porter Creek Trail
After passing blooming wildflowers, we reach the falls! They’re gorgeous. The water cascades down rock walls, displaying a vibrant contrast among the white foam, grey rock, and green life. We take a few minutes to take pictures.

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1:59 PM EDT, Porter Creek Trailhead
We finish the hike, sorer than ever. We end up chilling by a river half a mile back down the road we came from. I read The Verging Cities by Natalie Scenters-Zapico and a couple pages of The Complete Poetry and Prose by William Blake. Jaret boils water to cook our MRE and we stay by the river for four hours.

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6:15 PM EDT, Pawpaw’s Catfish Kitchen
For dinner, we choose to go with something local and freshly caught, so we go with seafood. I get fried catfish, coleslaw, and fries which did not disappoint! The service is super friendly and familial. We gobbled our food in less than fifteen minutes and we get home before seven.

March 14-17: The Great Smoky Mountains Reflection and Advice for Hikers
March 15: Hiking the Alum Cave Trail to Mt. Leconte <–  –> March 17: Going home to St. Louis

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