Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - July 21, 2005)
Hiking the Tallulah Gorge
A morning fog slowly lifts as the suns warmth
steals its moisture in preparation for an afternoon thunderstorm. Like ballroom
dancers the pink and white blossoms of mountain laurel shake the dew from their
petticoats, as spiders knit repairs to finely spun webs.
|Photo by Rick Tremmel
|The magnificent Tallulah Gorge
represents powerful peace.
In the distance we can hear the distinct drumming of waterfalls upon limestone.
The air is scented with sweet pine and aromatic cedar. Chattering chickadees
flutter back and forth like bees on nearby branches.
Beyond our senses the well worn path offers only a few clues to what awaits us
below upon our steep descent. Our goal is to hike down to the Tallulah River, the
artist of the gorge. We can just barely make out the winding curves of this
tenacious river hundreds of feet below. As we continue to hike were delighted
to venture upon open rock overhangs to view the majestic vista.
As midday draws near the sun becomes hot and unforgiving. We soak our hats in a
thin stream of cold water and sip long, cold drinks from our packs. We move quickly
from open areas back into the shaded trail. Underneath a wide, rock outcropping we
take a break in an oasis of shaded, damp stone, cool moss and lichen. A dragonfly
shares our refuge. The air is clean.
From our perch we observe a large, dark vulture riding the zephyrs against a blue
sky. It seems remarkable that there are no sounds of traffic or machinery. Instead
we hear the sound of industrious bees as they carry their loads of pollen back to
their hives, the continuous trickle of water upon the cliff face, and the wind as
it rushes up from the valley through the trees.
Butterflies sip nectar upon wildflowers in oranges, purples, hot pinks, soft
whites, reds and stunning blues. Vines cling to the ridges and cracks of the steep
rock walls overshadowing the narrowing path, but deep to our right the mountain
descends in dark greens and dappled light.
Along our way we come upon a tree that has fallen to the forest floor,
deteriorating she becomes a mother... a place where seeds may
germinate, is nesting material and a place where insects burrow providing food to
the forest animals and birds.
Mother is the birthplace for future life.
Midway on the trail we reach a long, swinging bridge that spans the Tallulah
Gorge. What a few hours before seemed an indistinct sliver now below us is a river
flowing with a forceful, humbling power. Instantly we recognize and understand how,
through this force and energy, Tallulah Gorge was formed.
Standing like birds on a wire suspended in motion, we are in admiration and
respect. There is peace here in the violent water swirls and falls. There is a
simple calm in the magnitude of this power. The majesty is awe-inspiring.
We are humbled.
As afternoon shadows fall, we make our ascent toward the top of the gorge and
watch storm clouds gather above us. As we look around we realize we are
insignificant in this place. We are but dots upon a swinging bridge or specks upon
a trail and yet unlike an imposing row of concrete high rises towering above, these
walls of sandstone and granite, these misting falls, these raging flows prepare the
earth for the roots of the trees, nurture the wild flowers for the bees and
butterflies, they are the dew upon the leaves, and are the warm winds upon our
Therein is a revelation that through this magnificence, through this power and
grand scale of nature that we, great and small, are all relatives back to
Karen can be reached at: MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.