Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Ron had to get his car’s oil changed today, so I picked him up at the Ford place and took him on a road trip around Harriman before a planned lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s.

We first explored a small road that twisted its way up Walden’s Ridge northeast of Harriman, but it did not wind up where I wanted to go. So, we’ll try another back road out of town next trip.

We then decided to see if the old road up Walden’s Ridge southwest of Harriman, through the West Hills Subdivision, to, what’s known locally as, Buzzard’s Bluff, was open.

Walden Ridge (or Walden's Ridge) is a mountain ridge and/or escarpment that drops off on the eastern side of the Cumberland Plateau. Walden Ridge is about 74 miles long, running generally north-south, and forming the western boundary of East Tennessee.

Walden Ridge is higher than the Cumberland Plateau, and its eastern slope, descends over 1,000 feet from the plateau to the Tennessee Valley. Walden Ridge continues south into Alabama where it becomes Sand Mountain, which is kind of cool since my Grandparents moved, in a covered wagon, to Tennessee from that area in the early 20s. It’s kind of a neat connection back to my past…don’t you think!?

Buzzard’s Bluff is an easily recognizable outcrop of sandstone that juts out of the ridge just above where Interstate 40 drops down to the valley floor at Exit 347. If you are heading west on I-40 and you pass this exit, look off to your right and along the ridge line to your north. You will make out the rocky face of Buzzard’s Bluff.

I built a house at the foot of this rocky point back in 1978, where Corey’s mom still resides. From there, I used to watch hang-gliders silently floating over the house to a large field about a mile from the base of the mountain. Once, I used the scope of my .22 to get a closer look and some dude freaked out, thinking I was about to shoot him! He made a sharp evasive maneuver to his left and was quickly out of sight through the tall timber. I’d love to hear his side of that tale!

Anyway, back up on the mountain today…the road up is just about as rough as I remember it from 25 years ago! The chain that usually blocks the way was down, so we ventured on out to the bluff.

Stupid people, who have no regard for what nature provides them, have busted bottles, beer no doubt, all over the place and almost every inch of the outcrop has been spray painted with initials, names, “I heart you’s”, dates, and vulgarisms. It’s a great shame that such a beautiful place has been desecrated in such a manner. The area should be a beloved little nature pocket with numerous hiking trails and picnic areas.

Sometimes at night you can see bonfires flickering off the bluff, with the occasional flash from a camera. You can bet there is a party going on, which would be fine, IF they would just take their mess back off the mountain with them.

Here is a shot from 1980 (fall leaves) and the same place today…note the red paint in today’s shot! A damn shame!

It’s things like this that make you understand the reason the Bible says the earth has to be purged by fire…it has to get hot enough to burn up all the crap we leave behind I suppose – glass, pop tops, and rusting tin cans!

Standing there on the edge, you can just about imagine how it was for some Indian brave, on a long hunt, to sit there and contemplate what he beheld. To him it must have been a holy place, a place where the Great Father placed his foot as he stepped down from the heavens.

Today we seem to have no regard for the beauty of this great land, and will go out of our way to make it as ugly as possible. Mostly, I think, it’s an effort to leave a lasting mark on the land. Wouldn’t it be better to leave a beautiful place rather than a scratched or painted name on a rock?

Anyway, Ron and I enjoyed the view for a while and then made a promise to come back in the fall, when the weather was clearer, the colors were brilliant, but we won’t look down at our feet.


Louise said...

That is quite a beautiful spot. I coudln't agree more about leave it nice. And the gun scope/hang-glider story is hilarious!

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I bet those who spray painted the rocks were teens from a nearby town. The probably took boom-boxes with them, got drunk and didn't bother to listen to the silence or the sound of the wind.

I feel sorry for them because their senses have been coarsened to the point where they can no longer see beauty.

Suldog said...

Not much cogent to add here, but I was intrigued by the name "Buzzard's Bluff." Up here, we have a place down Cape Cod way called "Buzzard's Bay." And Stan "The Man" Stasiak, former WWF Heavyweight Champeen, was always announced as hailing from "Buzzard's Creek, Oregon."

Yup, like I said. Nothing cogent to add! :-)

Jose said...

These pictures reminded me of some of the images I captured in Mexico. I am sure you agree with me that the picture doesn't do justice to the actual beauty you were witnessing.

I am an enemy of graffity and I don't get it how anyone would desecrate places like this, and or private property in the cities.

Sarge Charlie said...

Very cool Mr Mushey, I love places like this. I can remember going to Sand Mountain in the late 40's with a boy scout troop.

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Beautiful spot. Never noticed it on the drive. Too tired and busy looking for the exit. It would be cool if someone, maybe like a retired dude with shit loads of time on his hands, organized volunteers to go up there and clean it up. Maybe even get the city or county to fund the establishment of camp grounds. Just an Idea.

Back when I lived in Ft. Worth in the late 80s I used to go hiking by myself out at Lake Benbrook. Once, grossed out by all the garbage and crap that folks left behind, I went out there with a few garbage bags. I did my own little cleanup, filling a few bags with crap and even burying the carcass of a dead beaver that some folks had shot and left to rot. It was a busy day, but it left me feelin' really good. No doubt, the place is probably trashed out again now, but it made me feel really good to do it back then.

I bet you'd get the same gratification, and I bet you could get it done.

Mushy said...

Grand scheme, but it's privately owned. Half the time it's locked behind a chain.

Same thing with the "Pepper Box"...private and I can't get access.

It is quite a waste...both areas.

pat houseworth said...

Outstanding Photos of your local beauty....the paintings? Just non think youth and young adults, we were all stupid at times and proved it by doing various dumb things, doesn't make it right however.

BRUNO said...

I was gonna make a comment about the grafitti, but you beat me to it by the end of the post!

Sure, who hasn't "marked their territory" by leaving this, or that? But still, using whole cans of paint to make a "statement" bigger than life? And on an already beautiful hunk of history? At least keep it small---leave the BIG "displays" for the railcars, and the shitty "bad-side" areas that all cities have, like it or not...

catscratch said...

It's a shame. There are alot of places in the Smoky's that are marked up and ruined by passer's through.

Really annoys me.

Becky said...

Very nice, as usual. We have a lot of mountains and similar areas up here in WA and we always say "can you imagine being Lewis & Clark and hiking through this for the first time?"