Sunday, November 28, 2010

Devil's Nose Tradition: 11/27/2010 Hike (published 11-28-2010)

My grade school and high school friend, Bill, had an uncle, Walter, who lived and owned land at the southwest base of Devil’s Nose, in my beloved and native Hawkins County. Bill, his brother, my brother Clark, another friend Randy, and I went “up the Nose,” from “uncle Walter’s” land, back in those days a few times.

Some things change. Some remain. “Uncle Walter” is gone, but a descendant still lives in his old homeplace. Now, at least, my youngest brother, Doug, and I “hike the Nose,” on the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving every year, as a tradition, since Mom’s passing in December 2000. I have kept records from 2001 forward. To make up for not going after Thanksgiving in 2001, Doug, his wife, my next-to-youngest brother, Arthur, and I hiked in February of 2002. Since then, at least Doug and I have hiked every year, except in 2003 and 2008. Well, I hiked alone in 2007.

Devil’s Nose stands alone, rising about 2,300 feet, with a ridge running west to east, south of the Clinch Mountain range. Years ago, I heard two origins for the name. Viewing the mountain from the east, it looks like a craggy nose coming out of the ground. Another option is that a man, long ago, went into the mountain and never came out. When asked, “Where did he go?” Someone replied, “The devil knows.”

Regardless of how named, Devil’s Nose calls, at least once a year, and my brother and I must answer. I enjoy the woods and the solitude. The east bluff unfolds a spectacular view of the valley below. Hiking in the woods clears my mind, heals my soul, and rejuvenates my body. Looking down from above, my mind expands, and the minute issues of daily life take perspective. A man needs to answer the call.

My youngest brother and I hiked “the Nose,” on Saturday, 11/27/2010. The first two photographs show Devil's Nose from the south. Can you see the hawk in the close-up of the east bluff?

The next two photographs are from the southwest side, which we go up to get to the west side of the ridge. Make your own trail most of the way. At one point, climb over the rocks, pulling and crawling your way up! Do you see the icicles? The valley temperature was in the upper 30’s in the morning. The ridge was colder!

The following photograph is facing east, near the east bluff, along the ridge. We’re almost there! You can follow an animal trail part of the way, but you must mostly find your own way. Isn’t that true in life too?

The next three photographs are on the east bluff. A persimmon tree was still ripe, and we enjoyed its fruit. Just don’t eat it before it’s ripe! I made a small fire from damp leaves, pine needles, and twigs. Of course, the Appalachian Irishman had to strip down to his T-shirt in the cool weather!

The final two photographs look toward the southern valley, below the mountain. What views! The camera does not well capture the view that the mind retains!

You know, if the weather allows, I might just need to see who will “hike up the Nose” with me around Christmas this year!

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