Yesterday I had to travel to Knoxville to pick up my wife who was returning from California after visiting with family. I used this trip as a good excuse to make a 25 minute detour off interstate 40 to an area just inside the Great Smokey Mountain National Park and barely across the North Carolina state line. Big Creek is a tributary of the Pigeon River and the Big Creek Trail follows parallel to the creek up an old jeep trail. The trail gains virtually no elevation and is a pleasant stroll shaded by the trees and the sounds of the water rushing downstream. One of the most majestic swimming holes is located at a mile and a half in, it's named Midnight Hole and is said to have earned that name due to the deep dark waters of it's depths. The hole is formed because two huge boulders pinch Big Creek to a narrow focused stream which has eroded the rock bed beneath over the years. The area is one of the most popular swimming holes in all of Tennessee so my early start paid off with me having the whole place to myself. I have seen a lot of beautiful places during my hikes but I had to sit down and soak this one in. Sometimes I feel so lucky just to have the opportunity to get out and do these things and I think of friends I know who would like to be there but aren't physically able. On up the stream is another tributary that empties into Big Creek and it's known as Mouse Creek, at it's intersection with Big Creek, Mouse Creek Falls is formed, a nice 35ft waterfall. I was short on time due to my lingering at Midnight Hole and had to skip Mouse Creek Falls but I will return and next time with a pair of swimming trunks. Until next time...happy trails!