We woke up Sunday morning to hike the 6-mile Honey Creek Loop. This hike has an almost legendary status in Tennessee and has been called "the hardest hike in Tennessee" (mainly by the crazy hiking ladies from a few months ago at Beaman Park, but whatever). I have had an almost laser-like focus on it for months and it was pretty much the whole reason I wanted to go to Big South Fork in the first place. We ate chicken sausage and polenta and then got into Loretta....right as it started to sprinkle. This was bad news: in addition to not really wanting to hike in the rain, part of the Honey Creek trail is literally in a creek bed and you hike about two-tenths of a mile up the creek. If the water is high, it's not do-able at all. We headed to the trailhead, with me being wishy-washy about it all of a sudden, saying "oh let's just forget it!" and then five seconds later saying "let's do it!" and then five seconds after that saying "what do you think?" so welcome to passive-aggressive Sunday, everybody! In the end, we did decide to go ahead and attempt the hike - the weather ended up being agreeable and sunny. We got to the trailhead and started out briskly, yodelling Alpine tunes with our hats cocked jauntily and descended into the dark woods. I might be misremembering a bit of that. It's an unbelievably beautiful hike. Soaring rock walls, waterfalls (Moonshine Falls and Hideout Falls), bleeding heart.
We did end up only doing half of the hike - at the halfway point, there's a steep set of ladders that get you to the overlook above the Big South Fork and my left knee was bothering me just a bit - we still had the creek-walking to go and I was really worried I might get "stuck" and not be able to go forward or backward on a bum knee. So I played it conservatively and we skittered up the ladders and back to the trailhead a mile or so away. But! I will go back - maybe even later this summer - and hike the whole thing. Because if that's the hardest hike in Tennessee, I'm a fucking mountain goat.
Then we meandered over to the historic town of Rugby. Rugby is a preserved Victorian town that was some sort of Utopian society back in the old days and it's now all preserved "just as it was" which means I have figured out why they all died out and that's because all they lived on was horehound candy and salt water taffy, from the looks of the "just how it was" stuff. They happened to be having a festival that celebrated British and Appalachian culture and you know what that means - it's like a Renaissance Faire! I quelled my initial urge to just gun the engine and run over everyone walking around in bonnets and breeches and we walked around and looked at stuff. Native plants for sale. A lady that made pocketbooks out of old bark-cloth ("the perfect size for your Bible!" Boy was she the stupidest woman on earth or what? I almost said "yeah, about that. What do you have for athiests and/or Jews?" but I didn't.) Then! A lady who was yanking the fur off of a rabbit and spinning it into yarn right in front of my eyes! It was like magic! Especially when I asked if she was gonna pluck that rabbit bald and without missing a beat she said "yes, and then I make him a little rabbit cozy" which pretty much made my ears stand up on high alert and I demanded to see a photo of a rabbit cozy and she pulled one right out. So a rabbit gets all his fur yanked out, it gets spun into a rabbit cozy and then put back on him! I thought it was sort of like making a cow wear a leather jacket. Eh, sort of. Then we watched the crazy people who were taking this shit seriously do a maypole dance. Yes, that's a black person doing a maypole dance. Leave it to East Tennessee to whiten up the only brother in a hundred-mile radius.
Back to camp! Where we finally got the campfire going. Grilled flank steak, potatoes in foil, roasted red pepper slabs. Good eatin'! We both read a little, and stared into the campfire - which was quite large by the end of it, so much so that I had my chair like fifty feet from it, which cancelled out even needing a campfire, I guess, but la la la. Campfire! Then off to bed.
We woke up Monday and sort of lazily started breaking down camp. We packed up Loretta and headed off to the last hike of the trip, a short out and back to Twin Arches. Chicago Meg says they must be fraternal twins because they don't look alike, and then she told me a funny story about her friend Judy who has twins, a boy and a girl, and how people are always asking her if they're identical. People are so dumb. ANYWAY. The two arches are really impressive - you can't see them until you're RIGHT THERE under them. We figured out there must be a vantage point where you can see both, but we couldn't figure out exactly where it would be. We are writing letters demanding clearer signage. Then back to the car and, sadly, home. Which is not at all like Big South Fork.