big south fork
the best park in tennessee
For the past six years, I have been fortunate to spend a few weeks each autumn in the mountains of New Mexico and Colorado. This year, circumstances did not support traveling that far, so attention turned to our local haunts. We are blessed to live within half a day's drive of the Great Eastern Plateau. Rising a thousand feet above the Ordovician limestone basin gouged out by the Cumberland and its tributaries, BSF is covered in mixed deciduous forest and riddled by 400 foot deep gorges. Spending any time in this part of the earth evokes a special reverence and gratitude for This Moment. Beyond daily practice, we have to make time for such excursions periodically, even if only for a few days.
We met no other hikers on the first day, and two on the second day only because we had a popular destination. The land up here has virtually declared itself wild through sheer topography, a natural shrine to be set apart from the common frenzy, forever. Black bears have been re-introduced. What has been and what will be fuse into a present intensity with no discernible borders. As in meditation, the moment quickly deepens, reflections here tempered by the dark underbrush and empty sky, flow of wind and water, the sanctuary of trees, great exposures of 'gorgeous' rock, heart companions and the communion of autumn light. The secret meaning enworlded into the vista looming before us, ineffable as the mind that would grasp it. A setting which calls forth spontaneous prayer; that such beauty may only expand and serve as a refuge for beings everywhere.