Thursday, November 15, 2007

Savage Gulf Natural Area, Tennessee, 1977

Looking through my photo albums, I found a suitable image to put on a DVD cover for a slide show I recently created. The slide show includes pictures I took between 1975 and 1983. This photo was taken in a wilderness area called The Stone Dor, in middle Tennessee. "Dor" is a geological term for a large crack in a cliff in which one can bodily pass through. This particular Stone Dor was used by indians for many years to pass from the top of the Cumberland escarpment to hunting areas below the rim. The low-land area in this location are called "gulfs".

Since I hiked in the Savage Gulf over 30 years ago, I wondered how the place had changed and of course hoped that the primitive nature of the wilderness had been preserved. Actually I had forgotten the names of towns and markers in the area. Fortunately, there were several references to the Stone Dor and Savage Gulf on the Internet, and I stuffed the web sites into my Favorites. It was interesting to see how the images on the Internet matched my own photos taken many years ago- even to the tree that somehow grew up in shadows of the Dor (see below).

For more on Savage Gulf, go here and here. The last site will probably change one day, but it concerns a hiker, Jeffrey Hunter, who led a group of Chattanooga Hikers to the Savage. From Jeffrey's web entry, I surfed to another interesting web site for Appalachian Trail hikers.

Back in 1977, I was teaching a Sunday School class of teenagers at Bellvue Methodist Church in Nashville. Everyone knows most teenagers need a challenge to stay interested in anything. Nearby the Savage Gulf area, in Beersheba Springs, there were some retreat cabins owned by the Methodist Conference. The Sunday School class decided to hold a weekend retreat at Savage Gulf. I forget the details, but I will never forget the thrills and chills of the teenagers when we climbed down through the Stone Dor; walked under a waterfall; and truely experienced God's country. One morning we met near the ridge of the Gulf and opened our day singing Cat Steven's "Morning has Broken". I wish I could start everyday like that.

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