Monday, October 11, 2010

My October Thing

A number of posts back, I wrote about celebrating my 50th year by doing one new "thing" each month. September didn't present many opportunities for wild-n-crazy adventures, but I did manage, for the very first time ever, to cook a perfect steak on the stovetop (gotta have a cast iron pan!), so I'm counting that as my September "thing."

Having already devoted almost 15% of my annual income to vacations and dental procedures this year, there wasn't much in the budget for October's new "thing," but this past weekend's Indigenous People's Autumnal Warming meant I just had to get outside and enjoy as much gorgeous weather as possible. I decided to head out into the hills of Bubba County to be in the sun and catch the fantastic show the trees are putting on.

Now, I had already attended the Shady Valley Cranberry Festival a few years ago, so viewing Tennysee's native cranberries (all three of them) no longer holds a strong attraction for me. Instead, I drove past the festival grounds and found myself motoring toward Backbone Rock, a spot that I'd never gotten around to visiting in the 12 years I've lived in these parts, most likely because of intellkid's propensity for car-sickness when traveling certain winding roads in the county.

Admittedly, Backbone Rock is no Mount Rushmore, but it is a very lovely spot to stop and get a few lungsfull of Autumn air tinged with the scent of foliage that's just past its prime. (I need to work on that description.) I hadn't bothered to educate myself about the rock before my visit, but I spotted a number of trail markers and some stone steps up the hillside, so in spite of the sign advising of steep drop-offs, unprotected ledges, and uneven footing, I presumed the hike to the top of the rock was very do-able.

And so, it was. But once at the "summit," I remembered that although I'm not afraid of heights, per se, I am extremely and ridiculously afraid of falling. Nervous, I sat down a safe distance from the edge of the rock and tried to figure out which would cause me less angst, walking back down the steep, uneven, leaf-covered stone steps:...or continuing across the ridge to see where the trail led:I told myself that I was being ridiculous, and of course I could walk across. What was the point in being there if I didn't go all the way, so to speak? Luckily, there was nobody else up on the ridge at that moment to witness my utter lack of bravery, so I figured that even if I had to crawl across on my hands & knees, I'd make it. And so I did. Walk, I mean. Didn't need to resort to crawling!

On either side of where the arch crosses the road -- which is maybe 12 feet wide at the top (I didn't stop to measure) -- there is a 75-foot drop, just high enough to be exciting without being terrifying (see top photo). Nevertheless, my knees were shaking while I stopped long enough to snap a picture of the road, then walked on to see if there was a way down from the other side.

Much to my relief, the stone stairway on the opposite side of the arch was much shorter than the route I took up, and was also supplemented by an iron handrail most of the way down. I took my time walking back to the car, congratulating myself for my bravery while simulatneously ridiculing myself for being such a chicken. I thought of rewarding myself with an ice cream cone, but got lemonade instead, and enjoyed the rest of the drive home while pondering what my November "thing" might be...Any suggestions?


  1. My folks had a place in the woods, and I would trek back into the trees and rocks, climb a few steep, rocky hills and look over the area from about 50 feet up :-)

    I have the same fear of falling that somehow didn't prevent me from climbing. But I still tended to stay back from edges.

  2. Wow. Your area is stunning. Very Ansell Adams!

  3. I can almost feel the coolness of the air. Thanks. (15%? I feel a vacation coming on.)

  4. Beautiful Intelli. I'm jealous. Time to visit the grandkids in North Carolina.

    Everyone suffers from vertigo to some degree or another. I'm told the thing to do is the same as for sea sickness, keep your eyes on the horizon. I've never quite figured out how that works when you're trying to keep from stepping off of a cliff.

  5. Glad everyone likes the view! A few years ago I was encouraged to apply for a job in a desert town near the Cali/Arizona border -- I just couldn't do it!

  6. I think I have been to that very spot. I am not sure because there are so many hikes I've taken in the Smokies and environs, that at this age, I get them all jumbled up.

    As to the vertigo my,stupid youth...I thought it was a great idea to jump out of problem...Mr. Macho John Wayne man. But lead me to a cliff, or the edge of a skyscraper...the knees become mush, and cold sweat breaks out. Total, unreasonable, fear.

  7. Jaded, you were probably at Natural Bridge in Virginia. Backbone Rock is pretty out of the way.

    Actually I don't have vertigo with heights... it's more a fear of my feet doing something stupid, like forgetting to hold me up.

  8. That looks like a lovely spot.

    I love the idea of one new "thing". I'm thinking of giving it a try.

  9. Hi, KIT - thanks for stopping by & good luck if you try the "thing" thing!


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