Sunday, November 28, 2010

Devil's Nose Tradition (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 for 2001 forward. To make up for not going after Thanksgiving 2001, Doug, his wife, and our next to youngest brother, Arthur, and I hiked in February 2002. Since then, at least Doug and I have hiked every year, except 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.

The first two photos are taken from the south side of the Nose. Can you see the hawk in the close up of the east bluff?

The next two photos are from the southwest side that 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!

This photo 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 find your own way mostly. Isn’t that true in life too?

The next three photos are at the east bluff. A persimmon tree was still ripe, and we enjoyed its fruit. Just don’t eat 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 photos look toward the southern valley, below the mountain. What views! The camera does not capture well 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!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Four Hikes in Four Days! (published 11-14-2010)

The Appalachian Irishman was on the verge of insanity! He was overworked and over stressed. He needed a week off. Instead, he took two days, Thursday and Friday, October 28 and 29. He had a plan. De-stress. Unwind. Free his mind. Let nature, the woods, and the ridgelines work their healing. Four days off, counting the weekend, equaled four hikes, in four days, in four different locations!

On Thursday, the Appalachian Irishman hiked his nearby and beloved, House Mountain, for the 72nd time overall and for the eighth time this year. Some years ago, on the north bluff, a true patriot planted an American flag. Enjoy the views!

On Friday, I chose Panther Creek State Park, in Hamblen County. Regrettably, I had not hiked in the park before. I don’t know why. One trail led down to Cherokee Lake. Another followed an inlet. Walk along with me. Yes, I found a cactus in the woods!

The Saturday hike was at Norris Dam Park, north of Knoxville. This was my fifth hike there this year. I didn’t have many good opportunities to photograph, but I found the backcountry campsite, for future reference. The gravesite marks the earthly remains of those, who once called the area home, many years ago. My mind dwelt on how those folks must have lived back then. (I should have been born 160 years before I was!) I made my own trail along a ridge, near the campsite, and stealthily photographed the boat through the trees. The foundations of two structures indicate where a Civilian Conservation Corps camp was located in the 1930’s.

Well, on Sunday, Mrs. Appalachian Irishman braved the wilderness with me, on a hike in Cumberland Gap State Park. Last year, we visited the park around our birthdays, but we didn’t hike. We trekked along a trail that led past an old Civil War fortification. Signs of the earthwork lines are still present. A large hole, not photographed, marks where powder storage caught fire and exploded many years ago. I stood on the spot, where the “guvermint” bureaucrats say that three states meet. Again, I didn’t choose many photograph opportunities. The image of yours truly is on a knob, near the cross roads of the Wilderness Road and the Daniel Boone trail. The large rock is called Indian Rock. Yes, I had to climb on it!

The time in the woods, over four days, restored my soul, rested my mind, and energized my body. It is my calling to hike, explore, camp, photograph, and write. Does anyone need an enthusiastic trail/camping guide or a nature photographer/writer? May the dream become a reality for the Appalachian Irishman!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

House Mountain Sunset 10/16/2010 (published 10/24/2010)

Sunset views from the Appalachian Irishman’s mountain, House Mountain, on October 16, 2010! Sit with me for a while on the bluff and enjoy!
The Appalachian Irishman certainly enjoyed the thrill and challenge of hiking down the mountain in the dark. His only light was from the half moon!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Well Machine & Water Truck Legacy (published 6-26-2010)

The cab was all that was left to Dad’s 1958 International well machine, on February 21, 2010, when I took the six photographs, below, at the homeplace in Hawkins County. Only the cab and frame remained from Dad’s 1951 Ford, with a 1970 501 engine. That was the “water truck,” which Dad used to store diesel fuel and water, in two big tanks, for the well machine. My youngest brother and a neighbor of many years, from across the road, had already salvaged most of the vehicles. The photos show all that was left, to finish salvaging the next day.

Due to my work schedule and when my brother and the neighbor could salvage, I never had an opportunity to help them, which still bothers me. The money from salvaging the well machine and water truck will be used to pay off the property tax each year on the homeplace, as long as the money lasts. On February 24, 2010, I took a much-needed half day off from work, to drive up to pay the property tax, in typical family fashion, four days before the deadline. I paid with some of the money from salvage.

Dad drilled water wells for 46 years in and around Hawkins County. See my 6/21/2009 article, Tribute to Dad. Dad did well enough to get by, putting a roof over our heads, but he never did as well as he wanted. Dad took over Ferrell's Well Drilling, from his father (Marion Ferrell), in 1953. Papaw Ferrell had started the business in 1901.

On March 26, 2004, Dad told me that, back in 1966, when he bought the drill, he would have bought a 1964 model, but the bank would not lend him enough money. He traded in his old cable drill, with which he started drilling in 1953, for $6,000, and bought the 1958 machine for $28,000. The bank would not lend him the $40,000 that he needed for the 1964 model.

As the well machine aged, it broke down more often. As Dad aged, he could not work as hard. Lifting heavy drill rod and well casing, pulling pumps by hand, etc., took their toll. I helped Dad a lot, especially when school was out in the summer. It was muddy, dirty, and hard work, hot in the summer and cold in the winter. The well machine seemed to break down more often in the winter, when it was harder for Dad to work, due to the weather. Sometimes, when the weather and business were good in the summer, the machine would break down, just at the wrong time. Still yet, Dad got by well enough.

I removed the base of the well machine’s air horn, after I took the photographs, below, as a keepsake. It is all that is left of the two large machines. The piece is placed proudly on an end table. It reminds me of what once was. The well machine and water truck legacy continues.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

More House Mountain Snow! (published 1-31-2010)

Yes! We had a real snow for a change! The Appalachian Irishman measured four inches in his yard, in the early afternoon before his hike yesterday. The freezing rain of late morning may have diminished the total. Is there hope for global cooling?

Two snows in one month (albeit, the first, on January 9, was light) bring back childhood memories of several good snows each winter.

Enjoy the views, this time mostly of mountain streams and trails. A cloud covered House Mountain, with heavy snow falling, prevented any scenic shots from the bluffs.