Today is Thursday, August 17, 2017

Biking the Blackburn Fork Valley

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What a beautiful day it was to be out in the fantastic country with friends. Melinda and Kendall Porter joined us for a bike ride through the countryside in what turned out to be ideal weather for the trip. We put our bikes out at the Cumberland Falls parking lot then took the transport vehicle to the Boils parking spot some 10 miles away.

I got a chance to point out the route to Kendall as we drove the paved backroads almost devoid of traffic. The plan was to come down the escarpment alongside the Blackburn Creek and then ride back up in Kendall's truck after we completed the course. Turns out the ride was so refreshing and easy that all of us were primed for more.

Along the way we coasted through great stands of forest, stopping to hear the neotropical birds shout out their characteristic songs to anyone who would pause to listen. The hooded warbler was quickly recognized at the top of the ridge. A beautiful metallic blue indigo bunting was finally seen on the roadside just in front of me and was a first sighting of the species for Melinda. We had been hearing its song all along the route down the hill. The drab brown spotted mate sat beside him in the fencerow.

The clear-water creek gurgled along beside us, furnishing a refreshing cool breeze from across its surface which soothed the air with comfort. The water level was too low today to kayak as Linda and I had done on a previous trip. In fact, we saw a four-wheeler rolling along filled with passengers exploring its riverbed. There was little concern of it getting stuck since the entire expense of the creek was covered with gravel.

The first 10 miles seemed to go by quickly so we set out to find a cabin in the woods at the end of a dead end road by a waterfall. I remembered the route and showed them the way over a recently plowed and not-too-rough gravel road. The water of the rolling river had dried to a trickle when we reached the upper end of the valley. We passed the Washmorgan Trail, a Nature Conservancy property, leaving it unexplored this day but vowed to return next year during the wildflower season to see what might be growing there.

When the group got back to the truck, I was happy to see that all the bikes fit in the trunk although I was prepared to ride back up the ridge to get to our car if the Porters were anxious to get home. It turned out that they were satisfied to share a sandwich at the local Dairy Queen before returning to Lebanon. Looking at the routes on a map, I figured we each rode about 20 miles, which satisfied my exercise needs but left my soul still thirsting for more scenes of the beautiful trees and nature.

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