Monday, October 24, 2011

Short Springs - Part 1

The last few days have been very busy.
The office and the living room and painted walls and trim are done.
So is the hallway and I did not realize consciously until this weekend that there are six doorways in that one hallway - all of them with doors and door jams and moulding seemingly everywhere.
I spent untold hours painting them while zoning out the world and listening to these folks on my headset:
Settlements with the car insurance company, appointment made to get the windshield fixed, yard sales and picking up a patio set that is now sitting happily underneath the trees in the back yard, unpacking more boxes and I can now see the floor in the spare bedroom, minor damage it turns out to the roof and the home insurance company will be in touch, getting Tennessee drivers licences and vehicle registrations, picking up lumber to make a big shelving unit for my stoneware collection so we can get them all off the floor.
After much running around today it was time to head outside somewhere - to be alone, to mentally regroup, to not be painting, and to walk on a trail somewhere................

Not far from the house is a road that very soon leads out of town, and from there Short Springs is only a short drive away.
It was close and since it was late in the day and there were still things that needed to be done, close was a very good thing.
Over the years I have only been to Short Springs a handful of times.
Another one of those places that I do not think about immediately, because I always seemed to gravitate towards the base.
But Short Springs is actually a very beautiful place.
It is a wonderful natural area on the outskirts of town that contains multiple trails for hiking and running, a small but lovely waterfall, never ending hard wood trees, interesting rock formations and abundant and very sweet wildflowers.
An opportunity for those in town to touch nature without having to travel long distances.
Nature almost in their back yards.
As I climbed out of the truck I realized that it was much warmer than it has been for the past few days, and at the same time was reminded of the very changeable weather we can get in Tennessee.
Pictures taken from the small parking lot across the narrow paved road from the water tower.............
The trail head is located immediately across the narrow two lane highway and from the outset hikers feel as though they could be a hundred miles from civilization.
The trails are covered with fallen leaves.
After some busy days I was glad to be alone in this place, enjoying a short late afternoon walk in the sunshine and warmth of Fall..............
There are a number of downed trees out at the base and also at Short Springs.
I don't know if that is from the hail storm that we had last week or from the tornado that touched down a few months before we left Alaska, but as I continued with my short hike I found myself climbing over and walking around a number of damaged trees that were laying across the trail...............
The sun beginning to lower and glisten through the trees.............
It has been a long time since I last passed this way but I remembered a very steep series of rock steps and found myself actively looking for them up ahead on the trail.
About 1/2 mile into the trail I found them.
Beginning gradually and then getting much steeper as I began my decent into the gorge.............
A couple of years ago I remember coming out to these stairs and spending a lot of time breathlessly climbing down, turning around and climbing back up, turning around and climbing back down again.
Over and over again before continuing on with a run on the rocky and root-filled trails, then on the way back doing the same thing again.
Up and down and up again.
Not today though.
As I climbed down the steps I (for the first time) realized that there was enough distance between each unfinished step for there to be a split second of "hang time".
My relatively untrained body no longer had the strength or flexibility, and my brain no longer had the ability to send messages to all the body systems that are needed to effectively stabilize my body on the decent.
And so moving from one step down to the next was a slow, unstable and plodding affair.
Climbing back up was easier................
Dense woods taken part way down the rocky steps.
I could hear the falls as I continued and was eagerly looking forward to seeing them.............
At the bottom of the steps I found these teenagers talking and laughing on the bridge that spans the creek............
Leaving the kids on the bridge I walked along the shore line of the creek.
I had forgotten that in this place there is water everywhere.
Not only in the obvious creek but also trickling down into the gorge from the rocks on both sides of the creek.
The area was filled with water. 
All of the rocks were damp, and filled with moss and mud in lower spots.
Walking soon became precarious in the mud and slick rocks, but this was a quiet and lovely place and the only sound was the rushing of the water.
A sound that would normally seem fairly gentle if it was in the open. 
But actually sounded like a roar as it rushed over the rocks and down into the gorge in this place.
The entire gorge was full of echos....................
Facing back the way I had just walked, and facing directly into the sun............... 
I eventually made my way to the waterfall, looked for a moment at the beautiful falls rushing over and down from the rocks, and then looked 360 degrees around me.
Or rather.........looked up and 360 degrees around me.
Beautiful and ancient rock formations.
Moss and mud and streaming water everywhere.
I knew from previous explorations that there were trails "up there" but they would have to wait for another day.
It was a beautiful day to be in this place................
Machine Falls.............
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