Snoopers Rock

Having lamented missing most of the summer, I was happy when my husband asked if I wanted to go for a hike today.  As I was reminded yesterday, the summer isn’t over yet.  In spite of it being one of the more hot and humid days we’ve had in a while, I was anxious to get outside and spend some time in motion.

My husband and I have different ideas about hiking, however.  I want to go at least 5 miles and am willing to go much further if there’s something to see.  My husband, who is on his feet all day, prefers to pick very short, easy hikes.  We compromised by choosing a place that had 3 overlooks and parked in the middle so we could bail if it turned out to be longer or more difficult than expected.

We headed out to Prentice Cooper Wildlife Management Area, which runs along the Tennessee River Gorge.  It’s a beautiful area.  Even the drive to get there is inspiring.  We saw wild turkey and deer along the way.

The down side of the wildlife management area is the popularity of ATVs and hunting.  Fortunately, between the heat and a predicted thunderstorm that never came, there were only a handful of ATVers and we didn’t hear any gunshots.  Both make me nervous when we’re hiking with dogs.

Twiggy, visiting with us for the weekend, and Tisen were very enthusiastic when we got out of the car.  We headed down what was called Snoopers Rock Trail, but it was really a road.  We were passed by a jeep and later a Hyundai sedan, but we weren’t sorry we walked.

The view is fantastic from Snoopers Rock.  Of the views I’ve seen of the river gorge, this was the best–the rock is perched above a bend in the river, providing scenery in both directions.

Unfortunately, when we headed off to the second overlook, it wasn’t clear if we were on the right trail or not.  We hiked through the woods enjoying the shade and the tiny wildflowers along the trail, but the moisture in the air was gathering like a cloud around us as we walked and the mosquitos reminded us why we used to use insect repellant.

When we’d walked about as far as we thought it was supposed to be to the next overlook, we decided it was time to turn around.  The trek back was all uphill.  I was shocked by how hard I felt like I was working–it wasn’t that uphill.

It felt great to be in the woods and moving.  Even sweating felt good.  I feel more alive when I’m pushing my body, even if it’s only a little.  The mosquitos I could have done without.  But, after all, it is still summer.

Tisen and Twiggy were far less enthusiastic on the way back to the car.  I guess I’m not the only one who hasn’t been working out.

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Tennessee River Gorge

The height of the river testifies to the amount of rain we've had

The height of the river testifies to the amount of rain we’ve had

When you see stock images from the 4th of July other than fireworks, they all have one thing in common:  sunshine.  It’s so engrained in my memory that the 4th of July is always bright and sunny that I am unable to conjure any memories of a rainy 4th, even though I’m sure there were some.

This year, in spite of the great fortune of having 4 days mostly off work, the weather refused to cooperate.  We had nothing but rain.  Instead of spending 4 days hiking as we’d planned, I ended up working part of the first two days, rearranging the office in the afternoon of the 5th, and then spending the better part of that Saturday hanging shelves in the newly arranged office.

We watched several large logs racing down the rapidly moving water

We watched several large logs racing down the rapidly moving water

Granted, it needed to be done.  I’m very happy that we managed to get the office into some sort of order–I was tired of hunting through baskets on the floor when I needed something.  But, to be honest, it’s not quite what I had in mind when I thought about how I wanted to spend my 4-day weekend.  But, the deep gray skies that continually spouted rain day after day did make it easier to get motivated to work on the office.

On Sunday, the rain gradually eased up to a gentle mist and then evaporated.  The sun popped through the first gap in the clouds we’d seen for days sometime around noon.  When I took Tisen outside, I had no sunglasses or sunscreen on because I’d pretty given up on ever seeing the sun again.  When the sun suddenly appeared, I had to hold my hand over my eyes and squint, worried I’d perhaps turned into a vampire and I would soon turn to dust.

I was worried about Tisen falling into the river while I was shooting

I was worried about Tisen falling into the river while I was shooting

We made a quick decision to take a drive through the Tennessee River Gorge to a place  called, “The Pot House.”  I kid you not.  In fairness, it’s officially called Pot Point House or Pot Point Cabin, but everyone calls it “the pot house” for short–even the parks and recreation department refers to it in the vernacular in some of their web pages.

Even the storm sewer looked navigable via kayak

Even the storm sewer looked navigable via kayak

I have yet to find an explanation as to why the point is called “Pot Point.”  Perhaps the cabin was once the location of a clay pot maker?

Whatever the case may be, the views of the river gorge from Pot House were not quite what I was hoping for.  After snagging a few shots, the sun decided we’d had enough and was quickly replaced with yet another torrential downpour.

One of the 2 turtles we stopped to help cross the road

One of the 2 turtles we stopped to help cross the road

While it didn’t turn out to be quite the photographic opportunity I’d been hoping for, we did get some lovely views of the river gorge (unfortunately mainly at places where it was impossible to pull off the road).  We also assisted two turtles on their journey across the road, stopping to pick them up and put them where we hope they were headed.  They didn’t seem grateful, but it made us feel better.

A stream running down the hillside had turned into a waterfall

A stream running down the hillside had turned into a waterfall