Sunday afternoon greetings, to all local, regional, national, and international readers -- especially to you, dear reader! I trust, in the Lord, that you are well.
This greeting, by the way, does not include the “crawlers” or “bots,” from Singapore! I have tried, without success yet, to stomp those “crawlers.” Website analytics -- for the past 30 days, as of 9:30 AM, last Thursday, when I started the draft of this article -- showed 19,400 views from Singapore -- extremely high. Total views from other nations were far more typical. The other totals were: United States 2,320, China 257, Hong Kong 154, Russia 91, United Kingdom 86, Germany 71, Canada 67, Greenland 53, Thailand 51, Israel 48, India 28, Ukraine 25, Netherlands 13, Sweden 13, France 11, Iran 7, Belarus 5, Switzerland 5, and other 82. Singapore, please stop “crawling” my website! Don't make me fly over there, to stop you!
For local and regional readers, are you enjoying the early fall weather? Northeast Tennessee surely needs rain. Trees are dropping leaves, not because the weather is cooling, but due to the lack of rain. Fall colors won't last as long or be as beautiful this season. I still enjoy fall. It's the start of my hiking season.
Last Thursday, this Appalachian Irishman took a civilized hike at Seven Islands State Birding Park (Tennessee State Parks, Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation). This 53rd article, in the “hiking” topic section, describes the park and trail map, mentions a few details of my hike, with two photographs, includes my podcast (the 7th episode on hiking), and concludes with a point of peaceful reflection.
The Park & Trail Map
The Seven Islands State Birding Park website indicates that the land was acquired in 2002 and that Seven Islands “became the 56th Tennessee State Park in July 2013.” (There are 57 state parks. Savage Gulf -- in Grundy and Sequatchie counties, in southeast Tennessee -- became the 57th park, about this time last year.) Seven Islands “encompasses 416 acres along the French Broad River” and has “more than eight miles of natural trails.” The park is in southeast Knox County. I took the Midway exit 402, on Interstate 40 east, to get there.
I began to remember the winding and narrow two-lane roads, as my 2006 Frontier took me closer to the park entrance. I'd been on them before, in my 1995 Nissan pickup. Entering the parking lot, I knew that I'd been there before. My hiking log, which I started on 4/23/2000, doesn't record any hike at Seven Islands. I do recall, however, that I had taken a brief hike there, after having completed a work assignment in the area. The year was probably 2005 or 2006.
I wish that the park provided printed trail maps. They're handy, for showing trail distances and routes, as you hike. The trail map is on the information board only. It really doesn't matter, since you can't get lost! Just figure out the trails on your own.
If you open and enlarge, to about 240%, the Park Map, in a web browser, you'll be able to see the trails and the legend well enough. I downloaded the map, to include it in this article. The parking lot is just to the east of the Bluebird Barn. I walked through the barn, noticing the various items. The fancy outhouse and the information board are a few steps beyond the west (or exit) side of the barn. Small information signs, around the barn, describe the plant varieties, birds, and birdhouses, in that area. Beside the barn exit, there is an area where children can play on a slide.
My Hike, with Two Photographs
I wanted to cross the bridge, over the French Broad River, so I decided on that trail, if you can call it a trail. It's called the Bobwhite Accessible Trail. (I never saw Bobwhite access it.) The legend states that the trail is nine tenths of a mile long. It's a wide and asphalt trail, y'all! You could drive a small car on it! My “bionic” right foot endured the pounding on that asphalt. That foot prefers to walk on dirt, grass, or carpet! It doesn't care for concrete, asphalt, tile, or any hard surface. That foot didn't complain too much, however.
I started the civilized hike (as I call the trail), about 12:45 PM. The weather was warm and mostly sunny. The temperature was in the mid to upper 70s Fahrenheit. Clouds built up, during the hike. I'd hoped for rain. I would have been glad to hike in the rain, since we need it. It never did rain. It hasn't yet.
Having pounded my “bionic” right foot to the bridge, I laughed, when I saw the sign! It warned me to watch out for ice on the bridge! (I'm sure that's important, in winter.) I joked briefly, with three folks, who were at an observation area, on the bridge, about the danger of ice, on that warm day!
Having crossed the bridge, my “bionic” right foot led me to the grass and dirt Island Loop Trail. The legend says that it's a 1.2-mile trail, in total. At the fork, I decided to turn right (or northwest). (Always take the right fork, in life, y'all!) The trail presents several great views of the French Broad River.
At 1:29 PM, I took the photograph, below, while still on that right (or northwest) trail. I never did see the Bigfoot that must have built this Bigfoot house!
Yes, I know that a human or humans built this lean-to, from nearby tree branches. My hiking theology asks the question, “Who created the trees, from which the lean-to was made?” My full answer is in the third article, of 11/16/2022, on the teleological argument for God's existence, in the ongoing Christian Evidences series of articles.
Having walked that right (or northwest) loop, my “bionic” right foot wanted more! So, I hiked the shorter left (or southeast) loop. I conversed briefly, as we passed, with only a few other hikers. I enjoyed the solitude. Only the Good Lord was with me.
I saw several pawpaw trees and stepped over quite a bit of pawpaw fruit that was ripening on the ground. I should have picked some, to eat in the woods or to bring home.
At 1:51 PM, having completed the shorter left (or southeast) loop, I took the photograph, below, at a fork in the French Broad River. The trail fork is a few yards behind me. A picnic table (not visible) is a few feet to the right of the image. Thanks, Lord, for reminding me of your living water of salvation! (See John 4:10-13; 7:37-39.)
The entire Island Loop Trail, grass and dirt, is wide and well maintained. It is mostly flat, with only a few gentle slopes. If I hike Seven Islands again, I'll try the Hickory Ridge Loop Trail (eight tenths of a mile), since I may be able to get a good workout, by climbing the ridge. The Seclusion Bend Trail (2.7 miles long) looks interesting also.
Starting back, on the Bobwhite Accessible Trail (asphalt), I found an observation area, near the middle of the bridge. I decided to record an extemporaneous podcast episode. Are you ready to hear what I said? I thought so!
My Appalachian Irishman - Podcasts (YouTube) episode is Seven Islands State Birding Park: 9-21-2023 Hike (published 9-24-2023; episode 19). I started recording at 2:05 PM. As the description indicates, “I stated, incorrectly, that this is the seven 'rivers' state park and that the bridge crosses the 'Holston' River. My mind was in full retirement mode, apparently!”
I hope that you enjoy this brief episode, of about three and a half minutes. I was standing where the French Broad River runs through it! The final segment, which I recorded at 2:27 PM, shows the two deer that I saw, when I was near the Bluebird Barn. Can you spot the deer?
My total time, on this civilized hike, was an hour and 51 minutes, from 12:45 to 2:36 PM. Any day in the woods is better than not.
Remember, fellow hikers, that the Lord is the source of living water! See John 4:10-13; 7:37-39. Also, please remember to take the right fork, in life! That's my hiking theology.
I happened to notice that last Thursday was Peace Day. What's that? The United Nations (UN), on “International Day of Peace: 21 September” (United Nations), states:
Each year the International Day of Peace (IDP) is observed around the world on 21 September. The UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire. Never has our world needed peace more.
The UN wants only twenty-four hours of non-violence? This world needs peace, all peace, not just more. The UN can't provide it. Who can?
The Prince of Peace can, if we let Him! This article concludes, by encouraging you, dear reader, to study Isaiah 9:6; Luke 2:14; and Ephesians 2:14 -- in their full contexts. You may know the Prince of Peace. If so, we are family, in Christ. If you don't, please get to know Him. You are welcome to use the “Contact Form,” on this website, to begin a private and confidential email conversation.