Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A World Of Waterfalls

Tennessee is a world filled with water.
The state gets much rain, is filled with lakes courtesy of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and has an abundance of rivers, streams and waterfalls.
LC, Jamie and I have been back in Tennessee now for close to four months, and in that time we have actively sought out opportunities to be close to water.
I have hiked trails to waterfalls that are located in recreational areas not far from the house.
We have both hiked other trails to other waterfalls.
Not long after moving back into our house we bought a fishing boat.
Between kayaks and fishing boats LC and I have spent much time on local lakes and have loved every minute of every trip.
There are so many lakes and rivers and streams and falls we have not seen yet since arriving back home a few months ago.
Still much to see.
Bu these are pictures of waterfalls we have found our way to so far.............

Rutledge Falls is only 10 minutes from the house.
This very special place is located on private property but the owners very generously allow the public to enjoy it as well.
The parking area is located alongside the road and the barn pictured above was taken as I climbed out of the truck, eager to walk down to the falls that I had not seen in a few years.
From the road it is only a short walk down an open and flat trail until you reach her.
She stands at the very edge of the trail and close to the steps that lead down to the falls.
She is full size, bronze color, unmarked compelling and absolutely silently stunningly beautiful.............
After I had spent much time admiring the beautiful woman, and then looking down at the fast flowing falls and the young swimmers and the beautiful rocky stream, I was glad that I had decided to visit this place on a sunny and warm Fall day.
And as I headed down the rocky stairs I wondered why I had visited so infrequently when I lived in Tennessee a few years ago.
Truthfully I don't know why. 
But on this day I was glad that I was visiting now.
 A blog post of my visit to Rutledge Falls in early October:
10 minutes from the house in another direction is one more set of falls located at a large natural area on the outskirts of Tullahoma called Short Springs.
Over the years I have spent more time at Short Springs than at Rutledge Falls, but it is also one of those very sweet areas that I largely ignored before moving to Juneau, choosing instead to head out to the trails at the base.
Short Springs contains long and beautiful trails ranging from flat and easy to rocky and hilly and more challenging.
I ran the trails at Short Springs once with a local cop before meeting LC, but his strength was not trail running and we did not run together again after that first time.
I have walked the trails a handful of times, stair climbed on a natural set of steep and very challenging rock steps, rock skipped and stream jumped a bunch, enjoyed the beautiful falls and always loved this very special place.
Although it is on the outskirts of town and barely a mile or two beyond the last rural home on that stretch of road, once you walk onto the trails you are immersed into a totally different world.
A world filled with trails, dense woods, endless rock formations, deep gorges, wooden bridges and steps, rock bridges and steps, high and rugged rock walls, streams and of course the falls...............
Links to blog posts I made after my trip to Short Springs in late October:
I found this Youtube video of a hike at Short Springs in Summer. 
It does the area much more justice than my still photos do:
After a trip to Normandy Dam not long ago my Mountain Boy, my sweet dog and I drove down a side road just outside of Tullahoma in search of a place that we had seen on a sign called Ledford Mill.
The name sounded familiar to me but I could not remember why until we reached our destination.
As we parked the truck behind a barn across the narrow street from the mill I knew instantly that I had been there before.
I ate lunch there with a group of people that I knew socially quite a few years ago, in a rush as I always was when I was out and about during lunch and eager to get back to work.
So although I remember it being a nice lunch in a very beautiful bed and breakfast, there were so many other parts of the place that I did not get to see and enjoy.
The B&B was closed the day that LC and I visited so we could not go inside the building, and we also could not walk the grounds.
Which was a shame because on a clear and warm and sunny day, with time to really appreciate our surroundings, I realized that the grounds included beautiful waterfalls, benches, streams, and so much more located in a very peaceful deep-woods setting.
On our Fall visit LC and I did get to stop at the pond adjacent to the bed and breakfast, saw the waterfalls through the trees and realized that we very much intend to stop by this place again............
Our last visit to both Ledford Mill and Normandy Dam:
LC had been talking about getting a fishing boat for a very long time, probably as long as I have known him.
While we were in Alaska I dreamed of a time when we would be settled enough to purchase a good sized boat.
Good sized enough to expand our world away from the land-locked town of Juneau and explore the channel and multitude of islands that dotted the area.
A thousand times I wandered wharfs and harbors in Juneau admiring both hard working and pleasure vessels, greatly looking forward to the time that our boat would be one of those that was tied to the pier.
We never did get settled enough and we never did purchase that boat.
And so once we got settled back in Tennessee we again found ourselves (not so surprisingly) talking about a boat.
Only in Tennessee we could easily get away with a small open boat and a trolling motor to start.
Big enough to take us where we wanted to go for now.
Cheap enough to not have to incur debt.
We bought our small fishing boat on Craigslist.
LC called about it and we had the money but did not want to spend the money we had.
Instead the plan was to sell the 16 foot trailer we had used to bring our belongings across country from Cody Wyoming, and use that money to pay for the boat.
We listed the trailer and received a few calls but no-one came to look at it.
After a couple of weeks I had forgotten about the boat.
And then LC seeimingly out of the blue said to me "That boat's probably sold by now, don't you think?"
Truthfully I had not given the boat a second thought after that initial call of inquiry but I instantly realized when LC mentioned it again that it was still very much on his mind. 
"Call him - let's see if he's still got it".
He did call. 
And he did still have it.
We drove to Crossville the next day and bought it.
And the day after that we sold the trailer for the same amount.
On the way to Crossville we saw a brown and white state sign indicating the turnoff for Rock Island State Park.
I have blown by that sign so many times I have lost count in years past, always seemingly on the way to a race somewhere east and north.
On the spur of the moment I asked LC to turn off the highway so that we could make a brief visit to Rock Island.
As the saying goes - we were there for a good time, not a long time.
It is a beautiful place and after running all over the Eastern half of the country to race, I have finally slowed down enough to finally realize that I am surrounded by beauty in all directions.
There are so many things I miss about both Juneau and Cody, but Tennessee will do just fine............
More on Rock Island:
Old Stone Fort State Park is located in Manchester about 15 miles from Tullahoma.
It is a beautiful park filled with trails, waterfalls, fast flowing river and rich history.
These are the most beautiful falls immediately in the area where I live and as I looked at them during our last visit not long ago I wondered "how could I not remember this?"
Come Spring, when the world will turn from the brown it is right now to the green that I know that it will be, this place will be absolutely stunningly gorgeous.............
As long as I live
I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing.
I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood,
storm, and the avalanche.
I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens
and get as near the heart of the world as I can.
John Muir

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