As Tisen and I walked what we thought was the last 15 minutes to Edward Point, shadows raced across the forest floor like silent, dark ghosts. I looked up to discover a half a dozen turkey vultures circling overhead. Close overhead. Too close.
Given we were hot, tired, and bleeding from numerous wounds from brambles, it was a little ominous to feel like they were so interested in us.
Fortunately, they soared further away as we approached, giving us a more breathing room.
As we looked around (well, I looked around, I don’t know what Tisen was doing exactly), I realized that the area must have had a fire in recent years. The trees were charred in place. The growth was thick and dense, but it was all wild flowers and sun-loving brush. The bugs loved it. I couldn’t seem to keep them off of me. I saw bugs on me that I’d never seen before. I stopped shooing and started swatting, leaving red hand-prints on my arms. They went well with the bleeding scratches from the earlier brambles.
There is something disconcerting about hiking from relatively deep forest into bright meadows when a mountain is well below timberline. You expect to come out into open spaces when hiking in Colorado, but here, it just seems wrong. I found myself wondering when the forest had burned and whether that was normal here in the Eastern US.
About 15 minutes after we’d found our way back to the Cumberland Trail, we encountered an overlook that faced the cliff on the other side of the gulch. Directly across from us was a huge building that absolutely looked wrong. There is nothing I resent more than when I spend hours making my way to a overlook in the “wilderness” only to discover I’m within a football field (or two) of a major development. I found myself hoping this was not, in fact, Edward Point.
I googled Edward Point to see if I could tell. Thankfully, I was able to determine that we were not there yet. Now, I had a decision to face. A 72-pound dog who is tired and hot and 45-year-old knees that are equally tired give one pause at moments like these. Had it been me and only me, there would have been no hesitation–I was going to make it to Edward Point this time no matter what. However, I’d lifted Tisen enough times on the way up to know I couldn’t carry him back. I had to consider whether he could make it or not.
I decided to give it another 10 minutes. I could see where we were along the gulf and it seemed like Edward Point, which overlooks the main river valley, had to be close. I was so glad we’d stuck it out when we arrived at the overlook. While Tisen took a nap in the shade, I took as many photos of the view as I could.