GSMNP (DAY 8)
With so many places to choose from to go and shoot we chose to find some waterfalls today. From the list of waterfalls in the park we chose Rainbow Falls as our first choice of falls to shoot for the day. The trail to Rainbow Falls is just under 3 miles each way, but with a rating of strenuous. What that meant we didn’t know, till we started up the mountain on our hike to Rainbow Falls. There is, what you might call a “path” but, mostly it is an area through the woods wide enough for two people to walk side by side with and covered with tree roots and rocks. The trail started out with a series of switchbacks on a constant uphill grade. Being the height of the Fall color season the trail to Rainbow Falls was pretty busy so moving upwards was slow. Not that it would be that much faster without the crowds as the trail is so rocky that you have to go slow to protect yourself from turning an ankle.
The sights along the trail are awesome though and well worth the work of carrying a full load of camera gear and a tripod. Although each person’s gear load was only about 15-20 pounds, by the time we reached the top of the trail we really tired and our hearts were pounding! Because of the steepness of the trail and the rocky, uneven path it took us around 4 hours to reach the falls. Now add to it about an hour spent shooting the falls and another hour to hike down we spent about 6-7 hours shooting at this one location. Our hike down started out with enough light to see, but by the time we were within half an hour of the trail base it had started turning dark requiring us to break out our lights so we could see how to get down. We always carry a headlamp in our camera bags along with a small LED flashlight no matter what time of day we start out. There are times when you get to a location and shoot for longer than anticipated and having a light on hand is both a safety and convenience tool. Even at our slow pace both Christine and I managed to fall 2 or 3 times. I even managed to slip on a wet rock on the trail and got pitched over the of the mouniain landing about 12-15 feet down below the trail while I was hiking ahead of everyone. Once I managed to arrest my roll down the mountain I lay there for a bit catching my breath and thanking God that I was able stop my slide down hill with all of my gear on.
Once I regained the trail I called down on my walkie-talkie to let Christine and Mark know where I was and headed back down trail to team up with them. Once we did we traveled back up to the waterfall and spent a good time shooting the falls and taking a group photo at the falls.
Mark, Christine and I
Hiking down the Rainbow Falls Trail as the sun begins to set.