Great Blue Lobelia blooms in a roadside ditch.
Wading the River to See Meigs Falls Up Close
Wednesday September 12, 2018
I have hiked to all the guidebook waterfalls of the Great Smoky Mountains. I have
visited a great many that are not in the guidebooks. We moved to Blount County in 2001.
I was thrilled to be nearer my favorite hiking spots in the Smokies. The National Park has
a number of waterfalls that are viewable as roadside attractions. Meigs Falls is the best known of all. Being nearer and coming to the park more often I began to notice the great hoards of
people photographing the same falls over and over in mostly the same ways. Meigs Falls was
primarily viewed from the Little River Road and the best you could do was use a powerful zoom lens for a closer look.
I was not satisfied with that and in about 2002 me, my daughter and son waded Little River one pretty Saturday and walked right up the creek to visit the falls. It was not particularly
hard or unsafe. I remember seeing a water snake laying at the base of Meigs Falls that day.
I also remember being very pleased with myself for having gotten a closer look. I had photographed the falls from the base.
I had been working on organizing and improving my YouTube channel lately.
I realized while working on it that I had no video of Meigs Falls. None! I decided that one day while it was still warm I'd wade the river and fix that.
"The Perilous Crossing" 😁
I woke today and decided I'd go ahead and visit Meigs Falls up close. I sipped my coffee this
morning and played around on YouTube. It occurred to me: I wonder if anyone else has videos of Meigs Falls from the base? A quick search of YouTube turned up one video from that
perspective. A fellow using a Go Pro had made a video of himself that was mostly just him
getting ready to cross and crossing Little River. The title of it was something along the lines of
Meigs Falls from Across the River-- and mentioned something about a "perilous river crossing". I watched the video and looked at the date. It was July. The water levels were
normal Summer volumes. I couldn't help getting a bit tickled at the drama thrown into
this guy's video title. Maybe to him that is peril.
I drove to the park and quickly headed west toward Cades Cove to check the creek level
on another roadside falls. Meadow Branch was on my waterfall wish list for river crossings to get near photos and video. The water levels were pitiful so I turned and headed down
the Little River Road. Bright dots of orange spotted jewelweed glittered along the roadside.
I also saw big swaths of bright yellow dots of pale jewelweed. Tall wild sunflowers of varying
kinds filled the ditches. The river flowed by green and shimmering and beautiful. Before long I arrived at that well known pull off across from Meigs Falls.
A group of four adults stood looking at the falls way in the distance and trying to get
photos of it. I got out of the jeep and walked down the road far enough to get a glimpse of the falls before committing to cross. It was flowing pretty well for Summer. It was enough to
make me feel justified in making the trip. The four young adults smiled at me and looked puzzled. I grabbed my gear, locked the jeep and headed in the opposite direction.
The rock retaining wall at the Meigs Falls viewing spot is too high to get down to river level.
I walked a hundred feet downstream and was able to reach river level without any trouble.
I surveyed the crossing. The water levels were normal for Summer. I could see how I needed
to cross. I started off in ankle deep water by the bank and soon was up to my knees. The trouble with crossing Little River is that the shallower spots are flowing very rapidly and strongly. It makes it hard to stand and it also makes it harder to see where you need to place your feet. The calmer water is usually quite deep and can be a little alarming to step into
such a hole. I have crossed the river numerous times to Mannis Branch Falls and only once
has it been easy. I made it across just fine though. I was thankful that my karma from
laughing at the drama king and his perilous crossing didn't come back to bite me in the butt.
Once Across The Stream
I was pleasantly surprised to find that once I crossed the river there was a well worn path
all the way to the falls. I do not recall that being there before, but we waded the river and creek exclusively that time. Meigs Creek was flowing shallow and along its banks bloomed
lots of bold red cardinal flower, wands of goldenrod, tall pink poufs of Joe Pye Weed, and a few yellow sunflowers. I enjoyed the coolness of the creek on my feet. I kept a sharp eye out for snakes. I kept an eye and an ear out for bears. I saw neither today. I was met with this headline upon my return home. I was just as glad I did not know this while I was hiking.
A bear ate a ginseng poacher.
A bear ate a ginseng poacher.
I was amazed at the deep green velvet moss covering everything in the shadows near the falls. Lots of flotsam was piled up in one corner below the falls. I took my time and enjoyed
taking pictures and shooting video. I am really liking the improved quality of my videos
since I began using our Go Pro. The color and clarity is far better as is the sound quality.
First cross the stream look at Meigs Falls. I have arrived!
A closer, isolation shot of the falls
Nearest... You don't usually see profile shots of this falls. You don't often see photos from this side of the river period.
Below is a glimpse back at the view toward the road. Another camera angle seldom seen.
Below is a video I shot using the Go Pro
I got closer and closer until I had myself and the camera in the falls.
I lingered as long as I wanted and eventually wore it out and headed back.
It was a pretty day to be out. The weather was perfect. I couldn't help wondering if
in a few days this same stream would be so flooded I'd not be able to cross it safely?
Hurricane Florence looms large coming in off the Atlantic. It is predicted to be the
storm of a lifetime. I hope the weather forecasters are wrong.
I waded the river back even more easily since I knew where the deeper holes would be.
I ended up in the river to my waist, but I was already drenched so it didn't matter. I
trucked on across and put my gear back in the jeep. I grabbed a towel to sit on and something cold to drink and continued on my way home.
**Interesting Note** My camera is a Canon EOS T3i. I have had trouble shooting video
with it lately. It would run a few seconds then it would flash a low battery indicator and shut off automatically. I wondered if my rechargeable batteries were getting to where they no longer held an adequate charge? I did some research and found that this has nothing to do with the
battery life. It happens when the camera is trying to write video to the SD card and the card can't keep up with the camera. The solutions are thus: 1. Reformat the card. if that doesn't resolve the issue....2. Buy and use a more high quality SD card. I have reformatted my card and it seems to have fixed the problem. I am still going to purchase a better quality card.
I love using the Go Pro, but I still want my camera to function optimally in all modes including video!
Below is the type card recommended. They are a bit pricey, but I think it will be worth it.
I concluded my day by stopping by the cemetery to tend Teresa Lindsey's grave. I cleaned the headstone and put out Autumn foliage and flowers. I miss her. She was my co-grandma. The mother in law of my daughter. Being here and missing her is a reminder to enjoy every moment of every day. She was a happy, joyful soul. I will see her again one day.