I spent Tuesday and Thursday driving up to Tennessee and back and the day in between working on hikes in two state parks. I hated that it was so rushed, but the point was to do the parks and write them up and make sure that I have the “template” down before finishing the remaining 54 plus the two National parks (which I’ll have to hold off on doing until they open again).
Working on the hikes turned out to be a lesson in flexibility (Thank God for yoga! Okay, not that kind of flexibility.) as well as helping me to iron out some unanticipated kinks in the process.
For example, I learned that I am not going to be able to use my iPhone as both a pedometer for mileage and a compass to get the GPS points. Not only does it suck the battery dry in no time, but also it is incredibly awkward to switch, what felt like continually, from one to the other. So, I will be investing in a pedometer that can give me my mileage in tenths of a mile. And, needless to say, I am looking forward to being able to take my time hiking these trails and not scurrying from park to park.
And, that’s where the flexibility came in. I was all set to hike in Booker T. Washington State Park, but when I arrived at the entrance, the road was blocked and a sign stating “Detour” pointed back in the direction from which I had come. I dutifully turned around and drove several miles back in the other direction without ever seeing another sign. Eventually, I pulled over and perused my Tennessee state map and as far as I could see, there wasn’t another way to get to that park. Perhaps if one were a local, one might know of a few back roads that might take one around to the park, but I’m not intimately familiar with the Chattanooga area.
Fortunately, further along the shores of Lake Chickamauga was an older state park—Harrison Bay State Park—built as a TVA project in the 1930s. So, I drove a little further north and was soon hiking the 4.5-mile loop trail that followed the shoreline of the bay and its coves for most of its length.
I started the morning at the former Cherokee village of Red Clay, now a state park and archaeological site, so by the time I was done with the loop trail and nature trail at Harrison Bay, it was late in the day. And time to be heading south again. An exhausting but necessary beginning to the book. Now, to write up those two parks and hopefully get the go-ahead for the remainder.
Next time I head out, it will be for considerably longer, each day should be more leisurely, and I’ll have the advantage of being able to camp in those parks that have camping (not all Tennessee State Parks have campgrounds—neither Booker T. nor Red Clay did, which is one of the reasons I had chosen them to begin with), but I guess that’s where the flexibility part comes in again.
Journeying with me on these hikes are my little travel companions and good luck charms, Pikachu and My Dog Martin, both of whom have traveled with me around the world. Pikachu accompanied me to Israel, Jordan, and Egypt and My Dog Martin (yes, there’s a story behind that) joined us a year later in Scotland and has since been with us to Italy and France, Colombia and the Dominican Republic, as well as around the United States.