Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hen Wallow Falls


The Cosby campground & picnic area is around 60 miles from Maryville, TN. A 1.5 hour drive, which is well removed from the first time here, in the Summer of 1973.

Those many years ago, we were camping in the Smokies, with my parents and my brother Mark. Based on this trail, I assume we stayed in Cosby, for those many years ago, Dad took the two of us boys for a hike in the woods.

To this day, an austere 3"x5" photograph of Mark & I, sitting on a large rock at the base of the falls is still a part of my parents' "on display" collection of household photos. And to this day, I recall the sights of that walk, mostly being the huge logs and standing deadwood of the American Chestnut, which had been wiped out decades earlier by a blight.

Thirty six years later, I'm the same age as my father was when he took us on this hike. And along the trail, there's still some slowly composting logs - not quite as huge as I remember them, but still 3-4ft diameter and arrow-straight for 50 to 75 feet (or perhaps even more). T

A unique recollection, since what I've enjoyed in the hikes in the Smokey Mountains have been sights such as the waterfalls themselves, and here's a long discussion of times past and of the "boring" fauna of a quiet walk in the woods that lack a spectacular view of mountains or water or wildlife.

As the trail undulated for its 2+ miles back, a sight again seen was more scat from black bear. Fresh. Approaching the falls itself, a convergence of groups resulted in easily a score of human visitors to the base of the falls, and the predictable chatter and bustle that often accompanies groups of youths (a soccer team, we understand). A reminder of the population who visits this National Park and a strong contrast to the day that the three of us were here, all by ourselves. Of course, this day happened to be a Saturday, which clearly can be an influence on attendance.

After a break, we returned, and reflected on our visit, including my prior visit so many years earlier. There wasn't any huge standing deadwood with the Chestnut's distinctive spiral in its grain like I recall so vividly, but I did see a fallen icon that looked incrementally less ancient than the others that seemed to be in the appropriate region and size.


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