Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Panther Top Lookout Tower & North Shoal Creek Falls

Steps heading up the tower 

Panther Top Lookout Tower & North Shoal Creek Falls 

Dana & Kenny Koogler
Saturday October 17, 2015

2 miles RT 

   It has been a crazy time in our lives.  It has been Kenny's busy season at work for one thing.
Shut down season and a bazillion changes of plans.   It can be very frustrating and depressing.
I try not to complain, but I don't always succeed.    I got up Saturday morning and had no plans.  I let Kenny sleep in.   I was just glad he was home. I wanted to do something, but 
I did not want to always have something to push him into doing.    He got up and was surprised he had slept in until 9 am.   He was a little confused as to why I let him sleep so long? 
We had to have a talk about my conflict with wanting to get out and do things with him vs.
my guilt over always pushing him to do things.  We came up with a solution and he comforted and consoled me.  I was sad and mixed up.    The agreement?  Push me to do things but don't 
make them extreme when I have been working a lot.   Motivate me, but lets compromise and go do something milder and more relaxing.   Perfect!

              Today that is what we hit on.  We'd go visit Panther Top Tower near Murphy.
It was one of the lookout towers on my list I needed to complete.   We had been talking about it
for months.   We'd scratch that one off the list today.  It was a beautiful drive down the road to Tellico Plains and then down SR 68 toward Murphy.   We had a lot of good music, good conversation and laughs on the drive.    The day was cool, crisp and clear.  Autumn weather with a tint of Fall colors, but they are not peak yet.   

         We found the lookout tower without any problem. It was not a bad hike at all.
The view from up there was 360 degrees. Clear as a bell.  Panther Top Lookout has been restored and its in excellent condition.  

 View to the NE from the tower
 Panther Top
dedication plaque at the tower

   We came back down the mountain after our hike and headed toward Murphy. It was lunch time.
We brought along drinks and snacks, but chose to eat lunch in town.   We found that the town was quite busy and it is a pretty little town which appears to be growing.  We ended up eating at Zaxby's.
We had waited so long to eat that we were not willing to gamble on some of the places we were not familiar with. I love trying new restaurants, but I was not keen on it today. Neither was Kenny.

        We had talked about going back past Turtletown Falls on the way home and hiking.
We were leaning in that direction when it hit me that we were much nearer to North Shoal Creek.
We would just swing by there on the way home and visit that.  A short, easy hike to a pretty falls. 
We had been once before, but it was Winter.   I love this area and just really enjoyed it today.
A drive along the old roads was relaxing and beautiful.   We found the falls and enjoyed seeing them.
We met a man and woman from Florida who were leaving the trail to the falls as we arrived.
The man said we had to "rappel down to see the falls".   We had no problem before and wondered
what had changed since our first trip? Nothing except the addition of a rope to hold on to on the climb down. Not even needed today except that if it rained or was icy it would be a welcome help.
No rappelling.   Kenny laughed and said that to folks from Florida the hills and the rope were probably a big deal.  

North Shoal Creek Falls is a beautiful waterfall with loads of moss. The light here is almost always good for photos because it is down in a hole tucked away.  

   We explored upstream a bit. We found another three or four gorgeous cascades each with a different look . Nothing huge, but lots of water on them.  Rocks at odd angles making the exploring different and fun.   It was turning out to be a perfect day.   
 I am standing on a point of rock that sticks out over the creek!
Side view of one of the many cascades 

Below is a short video of North Shoal Creek Falls set to music that defines the tone of the day.
Very mellow. Americana.  

         We cruised slowly back out of this area northward toward Madisonville. Our plan was to
stop and do our grocery shopping there like we do sometimes.   We are familiar with the area, but still had to consult the map thanks to the maze of old roads and turn offs.   We rescued another couple from Florida who were going the wrong direction on the Joe Brown Highway.  We found another falls near Shuler Creek Road we need to go back to check out.   I love exploring in Doc Rogers country.    We went here with the full knowledge that we were avoiding the crowds and the hustle and bustle of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park today.   Neither of us wanted to get mixed up in that mess of traffic, bodies and noise.   It was a great last minute plan.

       Beautiful area and quiet time with my best guy.   Winging it turned out great.
I am a dreamer, planner, do-er.   Being married to me Kenny gets that as part of the package.
He doesn't seem to mind and has come to count on it, but even dreamers need down time.

       There is always that spark of hope.. fun for another day.  I see it now gleaming in Magicmomma's Crystal Ball of the Future........... South Shoal Creek Falls shall be mine.

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