“There’s the neatest little waterfall over here Mushy (not his real name),” Judy said.
“Look at those “Bluets” down on the side of that rock,” Ron added.
Earlier, Judy had been miffed at me for not coming across to the big rock she and Neena were exploring. I have a camera and anything I can’t see from there I blow up with the zoom, so I saw no need to jump the gap.
However, after their insistence, I hopped over onto the first of a series of boulders that formed the right side of the waterfall we had been admiring along the Middle Prong Trail near Cades Cove in the Smokies. Between two smaller rocks, was a tiny little waterfall with a lot of velocity that caused the stream of water leaking through to explode in a spray on a rock about 2 feet below.
I carefully made the “Bluet” shot and then made my way over to the mossy dark spot that can be seen the photo of Neena and Judy, just to Neena’s left. I noted and was careful of an area was a small depression, where water stood and feed the surrounding moss. I took the little fall shot and looped the strap on my camera around my right wrest for the trip back across to the boulder where Neena, Judy, and Ron stood watching.
As I crossed my left foot behind my planted right foot, my right foot shot forward about 3 inches causing me to arch backward and away from the top of the rock.
Now at this moment, I began trying to remember what the area directly below me looked like, and all I could picture in my mind was sharp rocks. I mentally prepared myself for the coming pain of smashing 8 feet below me into jagged rocks sticking up out of the rushing cold water below the fall.
As I hit the water, across the top part of my back first, I felt no immediate pain. I then noticed that I was being swept down stream through the natural flume created by the surrounding rocks. I started to panic at being swept far down stream and dashed against boulders along the way, but as I planted my feet on the bottom, and stopped my tumbling, I realized that I could steady myself and support myself against the large boulder on which my now screaming family stood.
As quickly has the second fear subsided, I began to think about hypothermia! I frantically began to look for a way up and out of the freezing water. There was no way I could get up to my left, nor could Ron reach my hand from above.
Finally, I moved to my right, almost stumbled over a larger rock hidden under the water, and made it to a small eddy where dead branches had collected. Luckily, there was a small tree about 2 inches in diameter that was still rooted to the bank that projected out over the debris. Using this aid, I made it up out of the water, but still could not make the huge step up to the top.
About that time Mike Hagney (send an email Mike if this isn’t correct) (Mike is at left with the great Van Morrison t-shirt) from
“No, it’s okay,” Ron told me as he handed it to me. It was actually still on and had suffered no harm as I apparently flung it off my wrist and onto the top of the rock from which I fell!
I removed my hiking boots, drained them, and rung out my socks, but the walk back was a little sloshy!
At the car, where the butterflies constantly buzzed by after feeding on a nearby “horse muffin”, I removed my wet shirt and zipped off the legs of my hiking pants. Ron gave me a dry pair of socks and a large towel to sit on.
We made a pit-stop at the Townsend Visitor’s Center, where I decided I would go “commando” the rest of the way! “I was out there, Jerry!” (For you Seinfeld fans!)
It was not until after I looked closely at the attached photos that I realized just how seriously I could have been hurt or killed! There are rocks peeping up above the water just to the left of and directly under where I fell! However, I was only very sore in my left arm and leg, and moved very slowly that night and this morning. There were no bruises (found two since this was written), scraps, or contusions like I expected.
Each night, especially before such outing, I pray that the good Lord will watch over us. Some may say it’s just luck, but to me it was an answered prayer.
So, thank you Lord, and you too Ron and Mike! I also appreciate the concern shown by Neena and Judy.