4-6 August, 2017

This weekend’s family adventure was brought to us by the Boys Scouts of America.  After jam-packing the car with all of the “essentials,” which included a percolator, coffee, and half and half, we departed for Camp Jackson, a five hundred plus acre camp on the Tennessee River near Scottsboro, Alabama.  After a scenic hour-long drive into the beautiful Jackson County Mountains, we arrived at the Camp.

In the distant past, the camp was used as a Boy Scout summer camp, but was revamped in the late 1990s as a high-adventure base, offering hiking, mountain biking, rappelling, kayaking, canoeing, and spelunking.  There was even a river cave to explore by kayak.  FUN.  However, in 2011, the camp was devastated by a tornado, which destroyed several of the camp buildings, including the trading post, as well as the entrance bridge and Pinnacle Trail.  TERRIBLE.

Fort Jackson Chimney

The camp is still limping along the road to recovery, and much has yet to be repaired or restored.  However, the camp is open for primitive camping and there is running water and electricity in the Dining Hall and Shower Houses.  And the best part, the Pinnacle Trail has been cleared and modestly repaired.

The Pinnacle Trail winds its way from the camp up to the top of The Pinnacle.  Over a mile in length to the 1200 foot summit, we enjoyed a strenuous hike up through limestone boulders and sedimentary rock.

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And then we were treated to this beautiful view.

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While resting at the summit and enjoying a blessed breeze and this amazing view, we were also treated to a rare sighting, a bald eagle! We had been watching a turkey vulture circling both above and below us and thought the eagle was the same, until we noticed a white tail and collectively thought, “I didn’t know buzzards had white tails.” Then we saw a white head, and it dawned on us, EAGLE! Of course, no one snapped a picture, we were all too dumbstruck. Our first wild eagle sighting.
On our climb down, we were able to savor some of the hidden beauty of the forest.

I’m not sure what the purple flower is, in the Trillium family perhaps, but the white flower is a Ipomoea pandurate, or wild potato vine.  And the knobby wood was just too unique not to take a photograph.

We also encountered many wild sumac trees, with their spikey crimson clusters of red berries.  These berries have a tart citrus flavor, that can be soaked, strained and sweetened to make a refreshing ade, or, at least for the middle eastern varieties, ground to make a popular spice.  Since my family is bunch of scavengers at heart, we collected a container full to take home and experiment with.

Sumac

Besides our hike and exploration of the campgrounds, my husband and I spent the rest of the weekend relaxing, drinking percolated coffee, reading, napping and eating food cooked over the fire, while the children kayaked, played King of the Hill and enjoyed the company of friends.  Marco (Marco Polo) even completed his ILST Training!

Although campouts are never restful, unless one really enjoys sleeping on the ground or an air mattress, the weekend was a needed refresh to remind us of the beauty and abundance of nature.  I hope you have a chance to refresh in nature soon too.

 

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