Tag: climbing

Twin Arches At Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area

Twin Arches At Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area

Nature, Photography April 17, 2019

Part One

I recently visited the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, which encompasses 125,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau – in both Kentucky and Tennessee – and boasts miles of scenic gorges and sandstone bluffs.

With many sights to see, I decided to hike the Twin Arches, described as “the most impressive rock arches in the eastern United States”. The North Arch has a clearance of 51 feet, a span of 93 feet and its top deck is 62 feet high, while the South Arch has a clearance of 70 feet, a span of 135 feet and its top deck is 103 feet high.

North Arch
South Arch

Here’s a video taken at the South Arch…

A sign at the park provided this description as to how these arches were formed:

Weaker layers of sandstone form the base of the nearly vertical walls of this narrow ridge. The weathering of these erosion-susceptible layers caused sections of the wall to fall away, forming shallow rock shelters on both sides of the ridge.

The collapse and shelter enlarging process continued until two “windows” in the narrow ridge were formed. This opening enlarged until it reached the stronger and more erosion-resistant sandstone layer of rim rock that caps the Twin Arches.

A cave was situated under one end of the South Arch, so I entered to discover that there was an exit at the back, albeit a narrow passage at approx. 18″ wide. Footprint-impressions in the sand from hikers provided some assurance that the cave was empty – no bats or bears. But, watch your step & don’t bump your head!

Here’s a short video as I entered the cave…

The top of the arches are one contiguous surface area, accessible by stairs, though the South Arch has additional areas visitors may ascend so as to attain the best view:

At the pinnacle, scenic views were truly spectacular on this fine day – unique walls of eroded sandstone, mountains and valleys lined with trees, and an interesting cap-rock area to walkabout. Here are a few examples:

Here’s a video of the surrounding environment –

Partial Map of Park

The only complaint I had while visiting the Twin Arches is Divide Road. As soon as you leave TN-154, you can expect to travel for nearly 5 miles along a gravel road which is narrow with frequent & deep potholes, many hidden by shadows from trees lining the road. So, to be safe, I drove this stretch at less than 10 m.p.h..

Keep in mind, however, that the most impressive sights to see at the Twin Arches are at ground level. So, stay tuned for Part Two

Sandstone Rock Formation

Sandstone Rock Formation

Nature, Photography April 5, 2019

This photograph features the sandstone caprock at Chimney Top Mountain, located at Frozen Head State Park in the Cumberland Mountains of Eastern Tennessee. If you’d be interested in a print for your home or workplace, then stop by my gallery at Pixels to review framed, canvas, art, metal, acrylic and wood print types.

Ijams Nature Center In Knoxville, TN

Nature, Photography January 9, 2019

I recently visited Mead’s Quarry Lake, part of the Ijams Nature Center, a 315-acre park along the Tennessee River in Knoxville, where I hiked various trails for a few hours. One of my favorites was the Ross Marble Quarry Loop, which included the Keyhole. A sign along the trail read:

If you take the time to look around, you will find large blocks of limestone strewn about this abandoned quarry pit and the wall that surrounds the Keyhole. Operations began in the early 1900s on the property originally known as the John M. Ross Quarry. The quarrying involved removing overburden, drilling the marble to form large blocks, prying the blocks from the rock face, lifting them using derricks and cables and transporting them out for cutting and polishing elsewhere.

Additional information included the following:

Mead’s Quarry Rail Line. FYI Railcars moved the large marble blocks to the nearby Tennessee River along rail spurs via adjacent Mead’s Quarry. During the 1920s, operations shifted to the Williams Lime Manufacturing Company, which is an indication that the large-scale marble extraction had tapered off.

When I came across the area called the Keyhole, I looked down to see a pathway leading to two sets of stairs. Recent rains had left the ground damp and the clay-mud dangerously slick. And, with moss growing everywhere, I decided to proceed with caution.

Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN

Winding my way across ledges, over rocks and around puddles, I could finally see the Keyhole at the base of a 40′ wall of stacked rocks. It was an impressive sight to be sure, no small undertaking.

Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN

Standing at the entrance, I felt small among the many massive boulders. The passageway itself was probably 7′ from floor to ceiling, a scale not apparent in these pictures.

Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN
Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN

On the other side, I encountered Sasquatch! Just kidding, but there were surprises around every corner. I was greeted by the sun brightening the surrounding landscape, and I descended a series of steps toward the bottom of the quarry.

Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN
Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN
Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN

Standing in the middle of the forest while surrounded by walls made of large blocks of limestone was certainly an unusual and interesting way to spend the afternoon. And I wasn’t alone, either, meeting several people who were also visiting the area for their first time. Which brings me to my advice – if you have time, the weather is decent and you’re in the area, I suspect you’ll enjoy hiking this quarry!

Ijams Nature Center, Knoxville, TN

I’d also recommend hiking the Haworth Hollow trail – more on that another time…

Climbing Stairs

Climbing Stairs

Photography, Products February 18, 2018

This black and white photograph was taken in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the stairwell of a local parking structure. I’ve formatted the print with framing in a style reminiscent of the famous photographer, Ansel Adams. A wide variety of prints are available in my gallery at Fine Art America – including framed, canvas, art, metal, wood and acrylic. Customize the print to make it your own!

Ladder To The Clouds

Ladder To The Clouds

Photography, Structures December 8, 2017

This black and white scene features a photograph of an old, industrial ladder leading up to a set of railroad tracks on a trestle, and is collaged with a second picture of clouds in the sky. If you’re interested in adding a print to a wall in your home or at work, then stop by for a visit to my galleries at Fine Art America and/or Redbubble. Other items available, also.

Structure of Stairs

Structure of Stairs

Photography, Structures September 2, 2017

Which way is up? Good question. Whichever set of stairs you traverse, you’re bound to wind up in the same place within this symmetrical structure of stairs. If you suffer from vertigo, perhaps the elevator would be best. Visit my galleries for more – Society 6, Redbubble and Pixels. Thanks for stopping by!