Winter, Carbon River Valley, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, 2016

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(Pictured above is the infamous rhododendron and mountain laurel thickets of Jeffrey’s Hell.)

If you’re from this corner of East Tennessee, then you might be familiar with the folklore of this rather ominously named region of the Citico Creek Wilderness Area–Jeffrey’s Hell. Jeffrey’s Hell is located opposite from Fall Branch Falls, ironically descending into a rhododendron and mountain laurel infested thicket that we locals refer to as “hells”. Technically speaking, Fall Branch Falls lies within this strange realm, a jungle of sorts in the higher elevations of southeastern Tennessee.

According to local legend, Jeffrey’s Hell received its rather unusual name after an unexplained disappearance that occurred sometime during the 1800s. An ornery old man by the name of Jeffrey went hunting in the Citico Creek Wilderness Area one day with a buddy of his, whose name is never mentioned. After a day of hunting, the two men were getting ready to turn around and head for home. However, Old Man Jeffrey’s hunting dogs were nowhere to be found, lost within the deep tangle of the hells, their barks echoing throughout the mountain. Understandably upset, Old Man Jeffery begins to frantically call for his dogs, but no avail, his dogs never returned. Bound and determined to find them, he resolves to find them himself, despite the warnings of his friend, who reassured him that the dogs would eventually find their way home.

As he walked into the dense tangle of mountain laurel, Old Man Jeffrey turned around to face his friend for one last time, his words seemingly sealing his fate,

“I’ll go to Hell and back to find these dogs if it’s the last thing I do!”

That was the last time anyone had seen Old Man Jeffrey. His body was never found, perhaps swallowed whole by the very hell he damned himself into.

They say that this area is haunted by the spirit of Old Man Jeffrey, who searches endlessly in vain for his missing hunting dogs. Some say that he can be spotted, carrying a lantern on the night of a full moon. Others say that his frantic calls for his dogs can be heard, sounding throughout the laurel thickets as the muffled sound of barking can be heard in the distance.

While I am unsure of these supposed occurrences, I will say that Alicia, Greg, and I experienced something rather odd while on the way back from Fall Branch Falls, an experience that I will describe later. It is up for interpretation at this point, but it was pretty unsettling, given the possibilities.


2 days with the reindeer herders at Pöyrisjärvi wilderness area. I really love northern Lapland arctic desert landscape. 

Day 1.

1. Reindeer herders wilderness shelter hut middle of snowhere. 

2. Herding dog with reindeers. 

3. Reindeers. 

End of Jan 2016, Pöyrisjärvi wilderness area, Northern Lapland, Finland.

by Tiina Törmänen | web | FB | IG |  

We were about 4000 feet above sea level in this part of the Citico Creek Wilderness Area, so this naturally meant that it would be much colder here than it would be in the valley. During our hike, we noticed that there was still snow and ice and on the ground from last week’s winter storm. This made for a rather difficult and tedious trek to the falls.

This is in the Cherokee National Forest outside of Tellico Plains, Tennessee.