Showing posts from April, 2018

Waterfalls and Wildflowers at Standing Stone

Standing Stone is an area named for the monolith that once stood in Monterey. (Sadly, little remains of the original monolith .) The area consists of a state park, state forest, and a wildlife management area. I spent several days over the last week exploring Standing Stone trying to catch wildflowers in their prime. My timing was excellent and the showing of wildflowers was as well. After a few hours of exploration I noted that the Chattanooga shale exposed in the park often produced nice cascades and waterfalls. Unfortunately, most were ephemeral features. On a hunch I ended up walking up Bryans Creek and found the most beautiful undescribed 35' waterfall.  Previous to my documentation of Bryans Creek Falls, I had bumbled around with my friends Kurt Heischmidt and Haley Dickson. We visited OV440 (a cave whose name I feel best to withhold), and a few other interesting features. Then there were the wildflowers. Five species of trillium, and plent

Fort Payne Formation & Chattanooga Shale Contact Waterfalls

Part of the beauty of the Eastern Highland Rim is that the morphology of landforms is largely consistent along its north-south axis. Waterfalls are especially predictable when one knows some basic geology, and can recognize the patterns. It's hard to talk about waterfalls in Tennessee without mentioning the webpage Tennessee Landforms . Tom Dunigan has invested a lot of time in cataloging the resources of the state and making them available to outdoor enthusiasts. The existing waterfall data used in this post all originates from his webpage and my own exploration. The map below illustrates the relationship to known waterfalls and to the contact between geologic units. Note that described waterfalls are found where streams cross the Fort Payne formation and (since there is no Chattanooga shale on this map, we'll use the next lower strata...) Leipers-Catheys limestone. Examples of its waterfalls on this geologic contact include Cummins, Burgess, Twin, and many of the ot

Chimneys State Natural Area

In Marion County, Tennessee, there is a little known State Natural Area named Chimneys. The Chimneys are a series of natural arches and rock pillars formed from the middle unit of the Warren Point sandstone. A meander of Pocket Creek had weathered the ridge down to a knife's edge. The pillar stands approximately 80' above the surrounding landscape, as a detached island of cliff line. Within the wall of rock, which varies from approximately 25 - 10 feet in thickness, one can find two natural arches. A third arch was likely present until only recently in geological history, but it has since failed leaving only an overhanging pillar. The trailhead from the parking area isn't obvious. One must wander past the kiosk to the tree line and look for a steep unmarked goats trail down. At the bottom you'll see where generations of dumping left cars and other trash in this beautiful landscape. Plans are being discussed to clean this area. Beyond the car at the bottom of Overl

Volunteering for the Cumberland Trail

On Good Friday I joined my friends at the Cumberland Trails Conference for a day of trail building. I wasn't alone, college students from two universities were there on their alternative spring break assisting with trail building. A group of about 40 people descended on a segment of trail on Renegade Mountain (more correctly, but less well known as Haley Mountain) in Cumberland County, Tennessee. I was shown how to use the tools, mattock and McLeod , and given some loppers and clippers to groom roots from the trail. Thus began hours of swinging a mattock to remove duff from the trail surface and bench it out. Side by side we stood (out of the swinging death zone of a deadly tool) breaking away and moving duff and soil to the trail specifications. The Cumberland Trail has very particular specifications to the quality of its trail, which is probably why in the segments I have seen, it is the very best trail in the state in terms of quality. Briefly, the specs are that the tra