Ch.33~A Queen, A Stump & A Branch
Ya'll remember my last blog? Remember how hard it was for me to get started and how long it took me to regurgitate that blog? It took months and a lot of digging, and in my opinion, it was one of my weaker blogs. Nevertheless, this Ch8se Champion is ready to #Embr8ceTheCh8se. Chapter 33 has me back in the game.
The ch8se chatter began a few weeks before the ch8se, and because of the pandemic, I chose for this to be a small group. The call went out to a handful of ch8sers, and just as expected, all they needed were the details, and off we went.
We met at the Publix in Duluth, as we have done numerous times, and up 85 north we went. From the Publix the drive was under 2 hours to Wallahala, SC. In hindsight, I should have stopped at the Carolina visitors center. Note to self, for the next trip that way. Now don't get me wrong, there were gas stations, and a few general stores, and such along the way, they just didn't look like the most comfortable place for us to stop, that's all.
Back to the ch8se. I'm so easily distracted, in my own mind. Now where was I?
Oh, yeah, up 85 to South Carolina, a few turns, some right, some close, and some not right at all, and finally, we are there. So many learned lessons from this ch8se. Keep reading, I'll share them, just wait.
This ride was a solo one for me and Choppa for a myriad of reasons. The most prevalent is the present state of the world. COVD19, social distancing and such, has us all moving about life more cautiously and carefully than before. I needed some head space, and some me time. I wanted to hear my thoughts, and process them all without interruption. I didn't want to talk or create conversation, and selfishly, I didn't want to listen, either, at least not in that space. I didn't want to wear a mask, nor have someone ride with me and have to wear a mask. I wanted to #Embr8ceTheCh8se for me, by me, with me, before I led the ladies into the #embr8ce.
The rapid research I did, coupled with the faint memory of my visit to this area, on the collabo ch8se with the Waterfall Tribe, in March, led me to back to this place. I knew that Issaqueena was close to Yellow Branch falls, and I remember wanting to go to the Stumphouse tunnel nearby. Yep, Issaqueena, a Stumphouse, and a Yellow Branch Falls, a queen, a stump, and a branch, all in one trip. I could have titled this a queen stumped on a branch, or a branch stumped a queen, ok, that's enough, back on track. See, I told you, all over the place. Did I tell you, I'm a Gemini?
The first stop, in a round about way, (you had to be there, ya'll I promise, I will do better), was to Issaqueena. This space opened up to several trails, none of which we took, because I was ill prepared, and like a kid, just wanted to get there. But just because I wasn't all there, did not stop my boss ch8sers from making the most out of our visit with the queen. Listen, there is a story behind this waterfall, this area, and the tunnel, but you gone have to ask Google about those deets, this blog is already going to be long enough as it is.
We explore the falls, run into a few barriers, and kinda venture to the side of the falls without reaching the bottom. What I now know is that we should have continued our journey down to the base of the falls. This definitely will be a return trip. The distance to Isaqueena falls from the parking lot was .03 miles, according to the website. No backpack, no hiking stick, no hydration needed to get to the overlook area. After a short time with the queen, we solicit directions to the Stumphouse tunnel from other adventurers, and off we go.
Ask Google about Stumphouse tunnel. Just know that when you go, be sure to take a flashlight, or a head lamp, or a flashlight, cause it is country road dark in there. The lesson learned here, was to check my hiking, top ten essentials list and make sure I have packed them all. Several times I thought to pack my head lamp, but never did it make it to my backpack. It's in there now. (Thanks Marionette.) The tunnel is cool, both temperature wise and it's vibe. Nature is so impressive, and extremely fascinating. It amazes me how you can chisel away at something, yet it still stands. That will preach, now won't it?
We explore the awesomeness, take countless pics, and continue the #embr8ce. Yes, this is all apart of the #embr8ce. This is a full experience, a trifecta, if you will. Did I say countless pics? The tunnel was not scary, not tight, and not uncomfortable at all. I wouldn't go in it alone, but I didn't have reservations about entering it with my Sista Friend, ch8sers. After we've taken as many pics as our batteries could stand, and time would allow, we load up and head to our final leg of the ch8se, Yellow Branch Falls.
It's lunch time. We unload our individual lunches and social distance at the stone tables, within the woods, and we share our meal. We share stores, we share wisdom, and we share in the natural beauty and healing of the space which surrounded us. We fuel up to forge ahead. Though myself and Lynn had visited this exact location with The Waterfall Tribe, not much of it seemed familiar. I think I was so elevated that day, with my heads in the clouds, the minor details escaped me. I surely didn't remember the 3 mile, round trip hike to be as hilly and somewhat moderate. The lesson learned here was to refill my canteen, after lunch, prior to starting the hike. I literally found myself sipping during the entire hike, to conserve my water. I only had a half a tank, I mean, half a canteen, about 2.5 ounces during this leg of the ch8se. Of course, I had more water in Choppa, just not with me on the trail. The sun, and the hills were trying to win, but they did not. Lesson learned.
No Sista is ever left behind. Let me tell ya'll, I have been running, inconsistently, and walking three to six miles daily, but it has been a minute since I have hiked with a loaded backpack, in hiking boots, fighting the heat and humidity, with a knee that is over me running on it. This same hike, which was a piece of cake back in March, had me feeling like I had eaten an entire cake at lunch. I was sweating like I had stole something. At some parts of the trail, I wanted to dump my backpack and come back for it on the way back.
But check this out, instead of being the lead, I became the scoop.
One of our Sistas, was also having knee pain, and felt unsure of finishing the hike. Several times she insisted I leave her and continue on with the others. In my Whitney Houston voice, ("Hell to the Naw!") that is absolutely, NOT how I roll. I reassured her several times, that she was not alone. Hell the hike was a struggle for me. In the midst of all the amazing beauty that surrounded us, the pain tried to prevail. What the pain didn't know is that it was up against two Gemini's, two don't stop get it, get it, girls, who were doing just that. We would not be defeated, and literally could not stop. I know my Sis, may not believe this; however, truth is, I was happy to slow the pace, and take every one of those breaks. Yes ma'am, I was. It's best to #embr8ce, when their is no rush to #ch8se. (Hey nah! I said that!!)
We made it, ya'll. When she thought she couldn't go on, slowly, together, we found ourselves in ear shot of the falls, and shortly thereafter, we were reunited with the other six. We were back together again, cheering, and celebrating our Sistas victory. Ya'll, she did that! Shiiiiiit, I had to remind her that there was no lift, no train, or vehicle that could get to her and get her out of there, and the seven of us with my basic first aid training, some band-aids, and tylenol, would never be able to carry her out of "them" woods, so truly she had no choice, we had no choice, but to walk back the same way we walked in. She believed she could, SO SHE DID! Hell, we did!
I don't know what manner of fun and exploration the six pack had before we got there, but by the look on their faces, they were not disappointed. With the sudden loss of Chadwick Boseman, this waterfalls structure, was very much reminiscent of Wakanda, and it had each of us in our feelings, dedicating that time and space to him and his beautiful life.
Surprisingly to me, unlike my initial visit there, several large trees had crashed down directly in front of the waterfall. It did not deter it's beauty, it simply forced you to climb over the trees to get closest to the falls, and in them if you preferred. By now I truly wanted to join on of my Sistas, with her bare feet in the water. I wanted to take my socks and boots off, but the way my toes were throbbing, without a second thought, I knew getting my feet back in the boots would be too much of a struggle. I needed to conserve my energies for the return, so I secretly lived that moment vicariously by her feet in that healing goodness. See, I knew I should have worn my sandals. Yet, another lesson learned. Just go with your first mind, period.
Chapter thirty-three, the ch8se against COVID, the queen, stump, branch, helped me in so many ways. It has birthed a new project, and is giving way to goodness. Through perspective and clarity, this ch8se was exactly what I needed. I am grateful for the few, and thankful to all.
Until we ch8se again,
Love, Peace & Waterfalls
Your Ch8se Champion, Deborah McGlawn