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Thread: The Walls of Jericho, AL/TN

  1. #1
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    The Walls of Jericho, AL/TN


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    The Walls of Jericho State Park, Jackson County, AL(there is also a parking lot, foot and horseback trailheads, and campsite just over the TN state line).

    Some info patchworked from a state park website page:
    -In the late 1700s, Davy Crockett explored the area since his family owned land there. A traveling minister came upon the Walls of Jericho in the late 1800s and was so captivated by the cathedral-like beauty that he declared it needed a biblical name and the name stuck. Today, visitors continue to be drawn to the grandeur of the narrow gorge. You can travel to the bottom of its 50-yard-wide limestone bowl and look up at 200-foot-tall cliffs on each side. In a heavy rain, water shoots out of holes and cracks in the rock. Flora and fauna are abundant.
    -The gorge is just one piece of The Walls of Jericho tract, which was purchased by the State of Alabama’s Forever Wild Land Trust, with the help of The Nature Conservancy in 2004, as part of its mandate to acquire land for public use. The entire tract of land is comprised of 21,453 acres-12,510 acres in Alabama and 8,943 acres in Tennessee. The only public access to the land is in Jackson County, Alabama. The property adjoins the Skyline Wildlife Management Area. A 100-mile trail system is presently in the planning stages, expanding future opportunities to enjoy the tract's many features.
    -The upper Paint Rock River watershed, which harbors the Walls of Jericho, supports a diverse array of wildlife, including salamanders, 100 species of fish, 45 species of mussel and plenty of birds. Most notable:
    The rare Tennessee cave salamander, which can be found only in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia
    Five globally imperiled mussels and 12 globally rare mussels are found in the Paint Rock River and its tributaries.
    The pale lilliput and Alabama lampshell mussel-this is the only place in the world where they exist.
    The federally endangered palezone shiner is a fish confined to the Paint Rock River and one stream in Kentucky.
    Three globally imperiled fish, the sawfin shiner, blotchside logperch and the federally threatened snail darter are found in the Paint Rock River.
    -The Walls of Jericho is also perfect for photographers. Some unique flowers and trees to capture on film or with a digital camera include the yellow lady slipper, pink lady slipper, showy orchid, nodding trillium, smoke tree, yellow buckeye and basswood.
    -Birdwatchers will enjoy seeing migratory songbirds, such as the cerulean warbler, and nonmigratory birds, such as the ruffed grouse.
    -Jackson County also has the highest concentration of caves of any county in the United States and is a well-known destination for spelunkers from across the United States.

    Headed up there Wednesday morning, drove around, checked out the campsite at the trailhead after talking to a couple there who I would later leapfrog several times between playing off the trail and hiking on the trail. The midday sun wreaked havoc with most of my pictures. If any of them look interesting, image search google for "walls of Jericho, AL", as I found a bunch of good ones. Here is a page someone made for their winter hike when there was apparently plenty of water(since some of the same falls were dry when I was there). http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=112992
    The frozen waterfall pics are really cool, and he has a wide angle shot of the cathedral that shows it much better than any of mine could.

    Today was a bust for me, as I suffered a gastronomic issue of astronomic proportions(that's all the detail you want), was up most of the night, dehydrated and pretty queasy this morning. It took me awhile to be willing to leave my campsite and get on the road.
    Fortunately, I'd decided to do the hike to the Walls yesterday, and do the separate Bear Den trail today, so maybe I didn't miss much.

    The trail to the Walls is mostly through open forest, though the degree of ground clutter changes dramatically throughout, as does the severity of the trail. The trip in is downhill over a series of switchbacks, features a couple of bridges from downed trees with added handrails at Hurricane and Turkey Creek, then flattens at a wide meadow. I got to see bees and butterflies competing over who got to pollinate what. The bees always won, buzzing in and knocking the butterflies off, then chasing them around. Never saw anything like that before.
    There is a primitive campground with several sites there, along with the Clarke Cemetery, which has mostly stone markers with initials carved in them, though most are unreadable. The one sizable stone with writing is faded now, too-date of death 1884. The trail becomes steep and rocky again as it goes up and down along the side of the cliffs following the water. I kept getting glimpses of the creek through the trees, and eventually lost my reserve and made my way down there. Very pretty, with lots of rocks, and tree-covered slopes backed by cliffs on both sides. The source of the water is at the Walls, and the trail ends there at the "Cathedral" with a series of small falls, one set coming directly from a cave. You then climb a small wall into a higher section, at the back of which is the "Grotto" a big hole formed by a waterfall at the top(which was dry today). There is also a stream of water coming out of the rock at the bottom, as well. Several aquifers(for lack of a better term) along the way teeming with tadpoles.

    The return hike was the same in reverse, but much more challenging, since the last couple of miles are all uphill, with even the switchbacks being pretty steep. I made it worse by trying to make a workout out of it, and trying to maintain a faster pace going up than I did going down. Had to stop and rest after getting overheated, and downed a quart and a half of water vs. 2-3 sips going in. May have contributed to my getting sick late last night. Wasn't bad after I decided to just walk, duh.

    Because my pics came out so badly, I'll just throw in a few random ones, including a couple of small cave entrances, and some local wildlife.







    What have we here, in this suspicious-looking declavity?
    Last edited by OwenM; 05-20-2010 at 07:15 PM.

  2. #2
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    There's a magic moment when you pass the treeline on the other side of that bridge.
    Everything goes from this.............................................. ................to this:

    Looking past the cemetery, you can see that the terrain quickly reverts back to rock formations and cliff walls.
    Last edited by OwenM; 05-20-2010 at 07:17 PM.

  3. #3
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    Lots of waterways that were dry, but would be waterfalls in a time of heavy rain.


    Cliffs across the way, and I eventually gave in to the urge to go down to the water that had been teasing me through the trees.





    Had to ditch the lumbar pack for these to meet the demands of the 10-second timed races.

  4. #4
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    But the fun has to end somewhere. Back to the trail...

    ..where I almost immediately ran into the lucky snake of the week. I ran over the unlucky snake of the week on the way home-a black something(?) that was almost as long as my lane was wide, and there was traffic in the other lane, so I couldn't avoid him. He kept going like nothing happened, though, so maybe he was a little lucky, after all.

    Not much trail left, and it pretty much ends a short distance further by this small waterfall.

    Directly above those falls is the amphitheater of the Walls.




    I was very fortunate to get these, and the remaining pics, without any interference. Just as I finished up, and was ready to hit the trail back, I heard what sounded like a herd of bawling cattle stampeding down the trail, but was in fact a group of high school kids who came down from the TN trailhead. They had one teacher, presumably a teacher, with them, had brought bathing suits(good idea, that-mine was left in my tent with my sandals), and were probably going to be there awhile, so I was happy to have beat them there. Pretty cool for their teacher to bring them there, though.

  5. #5
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    The falls on the left originate from a cave.



    Tadpoles...there were lots of tadpoles in these depressions, and yes, me again. Hi.

    Second pic...these holes have water flowing through them in rainy weather. This one is about a foot in diameter, though it looks big in the pic.


    Like this one, which was actually on the front side.

  6. #6
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    The Grotto.

    From the bottom, and looking up:

    Here is a link to an awesome pic of the grotto in the fall, and with water. Man, I wish my pictures could look like that! May need more than a $79 camera, though. Or a better operator...
    http://lh4.ggpht.com/_RuLYvoFZQ-s/SW...Jericho-22.jpg
    Got called to work early, and have to go, but will reserve a few posts for some more pics.
    These pretty much cover the trail and the Walls, though.
    Last edited by OwenM; 05-20-2010 at 07:31 PM.

  7. #7
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    I was there for the limestone canyons. So are the snails...




    Kind of surreal when you walk into a group of these little blue butterflies unsuspectingly, and are suddenly standing in a swirling cloud of them. Hard to catch the little buggers on film, though.

    These guys(well, I hope they're not BOTH guys) were hard to get close to, too. I gave up on getting shots of the bees. They were apparently very busy bees.

    After all, though, they had a lot of work to do...

    There was a fire. The campground areas are pretty much picked clean, but a park employee actually brought me a load of firewood on a 4 wheeler. Came and hung out with me for awhile, too, since he stays out there 4 nights per week. The wood was cut the day before from a live tree that was downed as a result of a storm 3 days prior. Very green. We cussed a little, but laughed at ourselves, too, for how much trouble it was to start and keep burning. I split 4-5" logs to various sizes down to toothpicks(that were so green they still wouldn't break). We made fuzz sticks. I used a trioxane tab. He tried a bird's nest. We burned a little garbage. A paper grocery sack wouldn't stay lit-can humidity actually be that bad? It took us two hours to get a decent fire going. 'Course by then we were sick of it, and just let it burn out.
    Last edited by OwenM; 05-21-2010 at 11:10 AM.

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    Over a dozen years old, and still looking good, having never been pitched anywhere but under tree cover. 'Course it's only been used a couple dozen times in those dozen years.
    I probably need to test its waterproofness, and patch the little hole in the floor, though.
    TNF Slickrock, btw.

    Firemaking tools of choice for the evening: the GB small Forest Axe, and a well-beaten BK7 with thinned down and filed up handles.
    If you don't know what a neutral tint Zebralight is, I'll go ahead and tell you that you want one.



    Brought way too much crap(and used almost none of it) and no backpack, thinking the campsites would be next to the parking lot, instead of a couple hundred yards away. That's a heavily loaded lumbar pack, right there.

    Four sweet and gorgeous puppies someone abandoned in the park, that a couple of state biologists I talked to on the way out had taken. I don't have a fence or time to fool with them, but I wanted one sooo bad. Actually, I wanted all of them.



    I do love this state.
    Last edited by OwenM; 05-21-2010 at 11:23 AM.

  9. #9
    More please! I live in AL and am going to have to make a trip up there. Looks like you had a great time in a place with a lot of history.

  10. #10
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    Haven't been there in years...even though Jackson county is only a forty minute drive...thanks for the mental trip and the great photos, maybe now I'll remember to get back down there for a weekend!
    History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies. ~Alexis de Tocqueville


    B.H. #27

  11. #11
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    Wow, looks beautiful. Awesome pics, great information, thanks for sharing. Makes me think I should start compiling a list of places to go.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheZenful1 View Post
    Makes me think I should start compiling a list of places to go.
    Good. I like posting these threads, and reading other people's about the places they go, and looking at their pictures, too.
    Making time to do things I really enjoy the last few months has been more fun than I'd had in the last decade. I feel ten years younger, too.
    Except on some of those steep hills

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    Thanks for taking the time to post all those photos. I really enjoyed them.

    Jeff
    Proud Supporter of JK Knives

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    Good post and pictures, I'll have to check this place out.

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    Excellent pics, interesting post, thanks!

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    Thumbs up

    Owen, my long lost friend.......
    Let me say that everything about this post, from the picture to the commentary; is fantastic!!!!!

    Thanks, I feel like I have been there after reading this.

  17. #17
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    Great pics, the puppy is the sad part.

  18. #18
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    Cool spot! Lots of good rock, and I love streams full of large rocks.
    Die Entropie der Welt strebt einem Maximum zu - R.J.E. Clausius

  19. #19
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    Those puppies will be good to go. One of those biologists said she was taking one or two home, and they would find homes for the others.

    Quote Originally Posted by teacher View Post
    Thanks, I feel like I have been there after reading this.
    Hey, Chuck!
    If you had been there, you might have been laughing at me. The stomach bug or whatever wasn't too humorous, but I had a lot of fun. In some ways the trip turned into a self-imposed comedy of errors, and I think I reverted back to childhood for a day
    When two grown men determine to burn a pile of wet, green wood when they could have just as easily dragged a deadfall over(the guy had a 4-wheeler, after all), and had a bonfire in five minutes, they've probably got too much time on their hands.

    edit:
    lambertiana,
    I'm big on rocks and water, too

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