Sunday, March 19, 2006

My Mountain! (published 3-19-2006)

At the risk of being a Benedict Arnold to the local hiking community, I will reveal the secret location of my Saturday getaway – House Mountain!

The mountain is located in east Knox County, standing alone, off either Washington Pike or Rutledge Pike. Only a small sign marks the direction from Rutledge Pike.

At 2100 feet, House Mountain is the highest peak in Knox County. It has commanding views in each direction – west facing Knoxville, north facing the Clinch Mountain range, east facing Blaine, and south facing the Holston River and the Smokies.

Two primary trails lead to either the western or the eastern points on the ridge. The western trail is not as long, but it is the more challenging. (Real Appalachian Irishmen prefer this trail up.) The literature says that one should anticipate an hour’s hike to the top, but if you’re in shape, 23 to 30 minutes is all that is required.

After taking in the view westward, the scenic hike across the ridge takes another 15 minutes. You pass a communications building and the location where a fire tower used to perch. (The two-seater outhouse is still there; although, it suffers from a few shot gun blasts!) Near the fire tower is a tabletop rock, perfectly suited for a picnic.

Having crossed the ridge to the eastern trail, which leads back down, do not make the mistake of quitting at that point! No, go on across the ridge farther! In about five minutes, you will turn left to find the northern bluff, which, to me, has the best view. (Go just past the “Private Property” sign then turn left.) Watch for hawks circling nearby for prey! What a view!

Continue eastward on the ridge about 10 more minutes to reach the eastern bluff, from which you see toward Blaine and the Holston River. On one cool, crisp, and clear Saturday morning, I stretched out on a rock there, with my canteen for a pillow, and took a nap. I woke up with a hawk circling just overhead. “Not yet, not yet!” I said to him.

Now, you have seen all three views from the bluffs, so you may head back toward the eastern trail, which descends to the parking lot. Notice the views as you go down. The descent takes about 25 minutes.

The distinctiveness of House Mountain is the rugged terrain, challenging climb, breathtaking scenery, unique rock formations, diverse fauna, and relative isolation. Yes, you will pass a few hikers, but the trails are not as crowded as in the Smokes, and they are by far more passable than I-40 during rush hour!

Thus, our secret is out! I apologize to the area hikers who wish to keep our mountain a secret. I just hope that the socialist powers that be do not spoil the mountain for us.

Unfortunately, Congressman Duncan decided to bring in just over $250,000.00 in pork into our little park. These taxpayer dollars will be wasted to “improve” the parking lot, build a picnic shelter, install restrooms, and put up new signs. I’ve even read-tell of paved sidewalks!

Note to Congressman Duncan: our quaint, little parking lot is sufficient! You’ll only be killing several old trees to expand it. For those who make it, the natural picnic rock on the ridge works just fine! And restrooms? Who needs restrooms, when all nature is around you? Take a roll and hide behind a tree, for goodness sake! And, as for taking a leak, there’s nothing like standing on the big rock at the top of the western bluff and taking a leak toward Knoxville!

By the way, some government intellectual set a couple of portable potties near the parking lot a couple of years ago. Some local rocket scientists, who must have been drunk, for beer bottles were amongst the ashes, set fire to them!

Give the $250K back to the taxpayers!

What say you?


Frank Murphy said...

A friend of mine hiked your mountain and sent me a cool photo for my blog. I also included a link to your description of the hike up House Mountain. Click here to read it.

M. Fearghail said...

Thanks, Frank, for the comment photo reference and the link!

Ah, Byron, you are a man after my own heart! I've hiked "My Mountain" over 30 times so far! I would have enjoyed climbing that fire tower! I climbed the fire tower on Clinch Mountain (off highway 70) many times. Maybe we'll see each other on the mountain this 4th of July!

I'll enjoy visiting both your blogs!

Anonymous said...

I've made 7 hikes thus far and am hooked. The parking area is now finished and seems folks like it enough to not damage it. At peak times theres not enough parking space now. I've found that an early start not only gives one alittle more "one-ness" with the mtn, but also gives the best all around ambience. The morning sun lights up your assent while the the sun lags on your 6 during the desent.
Beautiful :D

M. Fearghail said...

Volfandt, you're a person after my own heart! Fifty-four hikes and still counting, for the Appalachian Irishman!