Camp hosts and park volunteers stressed the importance of bear safety and asked that if you encountered a bear to let them know….I truly think if anyone encountered a bear, EVERYONE would know about it. That kind of thing tends to bring a loud gasp from your innards. It was told to us that there had not been any bear sightings in the campground in a very long time. Well, guess what. They didn’t know I could bring them in with just my very presence. I did NOT see the bear, but as I stepped out of the camper about 2 a.m. I could smell he/she had been through that area. I guardedly made my way to the bathhouse only to find one of the “containers” by the frost free hydrant had been ripped out of the ground and tossed around. What ever this thing was for, it HAD been buried about 2’ into the ground and about 4’ stuck above the ground. The campground is not well lit so when I came out of the women’s room with my trusty flashlight, I made a sweep of all the shadows that could possible be a bear…and beat foot it back to the camper. It IS a lot easier going downhill than coming up.
The next day, we went back through the Cumberland Tunnel to the Visitors Center, got the info we wanted and took off to make the drive up the Pinnacle Overlook. Vehicles that are 20’ or longer are NOT allowed on this road. I’m guessing about ½ ways up the side of the “mountain”, there was a turn off and some uphill hiking to do in order to get to the cannon that was left behind during the war. I don’t blame them for leaving it there…especially since they didn’t have steps and a paved pathway to get it down to a parking lot! This first overlook was definitely an advantage point for the soldiers.
After we caught our breath and Dan picked up a few more acorns (he’d been picking up acorns ever since we arrived in Kentucky!) we got back in the truck and continued the climb to the top. Once you park at the top, you have more uphill walking to do…and some steps too. BUT WHAT A VIEW! Even though it was cloudy, gray and misty, it was quite spectacular. You could see the Gap so clearly from this point.
I like to stand in a spot like that and imagine what it must have been like for “those who went before us”. I don’t know if Daniel Boone and the others were taken in by the sheer beauty of the area or not. I doubt after all the searching for a way to get through the Gap, trudging through the wilderness and personal hardships they endured making their way through the Gap that they really gave a hoot about the beauty of any of it. And besides, they may not have stood on this spot…as I said previously in this post, the Cumberland Gap is very visible FROM this point and THAT is where Daniel Boone and others traipsed through.
On our way back to our campsite, we went into the historical town of Cumberland, Tennessee. It is a very quaint LITTLE town, but at the end of it, there is a large paved parking area and some park buildings explaining just what this place is and what the significance of the trail into the woods (or out of it, depending on which way you are heading) means. This trail IS where Boone, his family and others, including Native Americans, came through. Dan and I walked the uphill trail for a ways but I was getting colder by the minute. For both of us, it is a feeling that we can’t explain to actually walk where these people walked. This was history; the struggle to find a way over the mountains, finding the natural gap IN the mountains, making the way through, bringing families and other settlers through….we STOOD and walked where they had been.
After we left there and before we returned to our campsite, we went to a little town just up the road from the campground. I think it is called Gibson Station. There was a little grocery store of sorts. It truly reminded me of Ike Godsey’s store…from the Waltons. Outside there were old wooden baskets full of huge juicy tomatoes, cabbage, and apples. Inside, it was jam packed with EVERYTHING and none of it seemed to be in any particular order. Along the walls, hanging above the “cooler” where the eggs and more cabbage was, there were deer head mounts, turkey mounts and assorted antlers. Around the corner from that was hardware but across the aisle from that was bread, etc. The store had an old wooden, creaking floor. We finally found the “meat cooler” and had our choice of 3 different brands of bacon. We decided on the Cumberland brand…$2.59 per pound (did I tell you groceries are about ½ the price down there as to up here??). One comment about that bacon (as we opened it for breakfast the next morning)…NO FAT! It did not shrink and there was hardly enough “grease” to fry the eggs without them sticking! Dan had to resort to spraying some Pam on his cast iron skillet. DAMN, that was good bacon!
This photo is of the cannon I wrote about. It isn't going anywhere soon. I wish you could read the sign..or that I could remember what was on it and tell you!
A view from the Pinnacle. The lake in the distance is Fern Lake.
Another view of Fern Lake from a slightly different location on the Pinnacle.