And it's a good thing because she never would have allowed me to scale a 30ft. limestone bluff into a raging river gorge. And Kay Keyes Farrar's mom wasn't there either so she went with me.
Was it worth it? After the edge of the initial adrenaline surge subsided, yeah, well worth it.
We were painting with the Chestnut Group Saturday in an area right outside Cookeville Tennessee called Cummins Falls. It was bought by a private land owner who gave the Tennessee Parks and Greenway Foundation a year to generate enough money to purchase it and save it for posterity.
Enter, the Chestnuts.
They will be having a show on the 24th of February at the Belle Meade Mansion to raise funds for the purchase so we are making an effort to get out there and paint it.
If there is anyone out there who is going to try and get to the bottom of the falls, be prepared, there is no easy way to do it. We had initially began to hike but ran into some hikers who said maybe up to an hour to get in plus a knee deep river crossing three different times. We bailed. On the way back we noticed an area on the bluff that didn't look so "bluffy". We contemplated the climb about two seconds and then over the edge we go. There were a couple of areas at the top that had a pretty high "pucker" factor and after that it was just a matter of keeping your footing. Someone before us had the foresight to tie ropes at the lower areas so you could climb back out. Had they not been there it would have been a lot of muddy hands and knees climbing at the bottom. Oh, and I wouldn't suggest doing this with your gear on your back. Maybe lower it with ropes, then climb.
Once down there though, it was gorgeous. Boulder strewn river gorge, huge sheer bluffs on both sides, and the roar in your whole body of the falls at the end. The photos I had seen of it didn't even come close to the magnitude and weight and scale of this place. And being there as a light snow fell was perfect. Absolutely perfect.
After climbing back out and a little coffee, provided by the parks folks (Thanks!), we painted along the river at the top and then home that afternoon with nothing more than a little mud on our clothes. With the drive only an hour and a half it's not a bad day trip. Hopefully it will wind up in the hands of the Parks and Greenway Foundation because when you're there you realize how unique this is and what a jewel it is for our state.