Our newest outdoorjunkiez writer resides all the way over in Charleston, SC. Her adventures never cease to amaze us, and we are so excited to have her help our community grow over 1,000s of miles! check out her “must haves” for river camping at the end of her story.

Lauren: As a self-proclaimed outdoor enthusiast, I figured it was my turn to contribute to the ‘Junkiez’ brand. I am happy to call myself the ‘Eastest’ ambassador in the states having recently relocated from the land of poke, poi and humidity (Honolulu, Hawaii) to the land of shrimp, grits and…humidity (Charleston, South Carolina).

My most recent adventure is an obvious fit for the Outdoor Junkiez crew. Not only did I travel with friends made in Hawaii that I was lucky enough to reconnect with here in the low country, but the trip took us to a place so special that no words or photos can do it justice. Please, go and see it for yourself.

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Smoky Mountains Overlook

After a long work week (as they always are) we packed up the Dodge and hit the road to Tellico, TN. Mind you, we left Charleston at 6pm so by the time we arrived at the cabin it was 2am and pitch black as there is zero light pollution. After unpacking and unwinding next to the first of many fires, it was bedtime. We did not know the treat we were in for, had no idea where we were camping out. When we all woke up, it was like Christmas morning. Santa has brought us a slice paradise. A luscious forest and a river flowing through the back yard.

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Tellico River

Tellico is a special place in the Smoky Mountains in the Cherokee National Forest where there is no cell reception, WiFi, or grammar. Instead, you find yourself entranced by the untouched beauty of the Tellico River, surrounded by the forest and rednecks.

During our time here we ventured to Bald River Falls and Baby Falls. Both as stunning as each other. We hiked up the side of Bald River, which is easily 100 feet tall, up slick rock and past the fast moving water. According to a travel site, these falls are considered to be the most impressive and scenic waterfalls in East Tennessee. At the base of the falls is a beautiful round pool that was perfect for a dip on a hot summer afternoon. But the real fun began upriver a ways at Baby Falls.

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Baby Falls is a real gem if you enjoy jumping off waterfalls and let’s be real, who doesn’t?! Above the falls, a soft algae grows that turns the rocks into a natural waterslide. You simply sit down and allow the Tellico River to take you on a ride, her way. Of course, having been indulging through the day, we thought it a good idea to ride a blow up raft down the falls, hilarity ensued. We all tried out the waterslide, raft and cliff faces in Mother Nature’s playground for an afternoon rush of adrenaline.

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We spent the remainder of the afternoon in the Relaxation Station, trout fishing and taking in all we could. The day ended with a beautiful steak dinner with a backdrop and ambience that cannot be reproduced.

Gear addendum:

Water shoes: Don’t under estimate the awesomeness of the dorkiest footwear around. Everyone in the group brought a pair on the trip and they quickly became a staple while in the river. The practicality and ease of use out weighed any sense of fashion they may have accidentally been packed. The fancy-feet crew rocked the water shoes climbing waterfalls, floating in the river and wading out to fish. There was a range in quality of water shoes from Walmart brand to Sperrys. In this specific example, each was as good as the last. But I’m sure you get what you pay for in the long run.

Croakies: Every avid outdoor adventurer should own a pair, especially if you have spent more than $20 on a pair of sunglasses. I have a pair of C-mono retainers by Costa that I love. The thin, light band is perfect for fitting under a ponytail and is comfortable to wear around the neck. I did wear my sunglasses over Baby Falls a few times and managed not to loose them. I did however, loose one lens out of my glasses so in the end, the croakies did not do me much good.

Hammock: End Double NestOutfitters DoubleNest Hammock. Amazing. Packs up into a travel-sized attached bag. Easy to set up, we used ratchet straps between two trees but a sturdy rope would work as well. This hammock is comfortable for one but has room enough for two. Many a nap and good book were enjoyed in this hammock under a forest canopy with the Tellico River as scenery and lullaby.

Relaxation Station: I’m not sure if this fits in the ‘gear’ category but we used it and loved it. The Station was anchored in the middle of the river in the backyard. We enjoyed the sun, cool water and many a beverage while sitting on this oversized floatie. At one point, we did free the Relaxation Station to go on a float down the river. Not one of the best ideas as the river was rather shallow and fast moving in some places but we all loaded up for an adventure.


Meet Lauren, an adventure gypsy always on the hunt for a weekend of camping, hiking, and crab hunting. Her ability to make anywhere home, while still being able to pack her life into a backpack make her an amazing travel inspiration for outdoorjunkiez!