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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Natural Bridge Earthcaches on Tennessee's northern Cumberland Plateau

sumajhuarmi at the Natural Arch, Pickett State Park, TN
sumajhuarmi and Zeph4 from the arch
While up on the plateau we took advantage of several earthcaches. After a week in Livingston, Tennessee we moved over to the town of Jamestown, Tennessee. We stayed in a cabin about eight miles out of town. That put us in close enough proximity to Pickett State Park. Our first morning at the cabin began with a great breakfast and an invitation to watch a movie. Let's see, movie or geocaching? That one wasn't too hard. It wasn't raining, the sun was shining, and a state park unknown to us waited up the road sporting two earthcaches within a mile of each other.

Sumajhuarmi and I took off with our new geocaching friends, Nutz4Brasil and Zeph4. It only took about fifteen minutes to reach the state park in our minivan. We parked right along the road in a paved pull off. From the van to the trail and we were in the woods. There it was! Hwy 154 Natural Bridge Earthcache (GC151QR) is fascinating. We walked across the bridge, taking pictures below and then followed a trail down to the valley floor. The arch backs up against a cliff. If you walk through the arch on the valley floor you can go back in a widemouthed cave that extends maybe 40 feet under the cliff. So the cave runs up under the cliff and the parking area above. You can stand at the edge of the parking area by a safety fence and look down on the natural arch. We took some great pictures and gathered the necessary information in order to claim credit for the earthcache. This meant taking pictures from up on the arch and from below on the valley floor. We wondered what animals must have roamed these woods and walked through this arch or even across
it in the past. This place is incredibly old! I think Bigfoot might have been here. At least I think that Nutz4Brasil resembles that creature a little.

The Natural Bridge
We loaded back in the car to drive less than .5 miles. We passed the ranger station and gift shop, driving back into the cabin area to park. From there we walked a few hundred feet through the woods to where we intercepted a trail leading down to a dried up riverbed. There before us stood and even larger natural bridge. Clearly water had been involved in the erosion process that made this bridge. Through the arch that forms the bridge we could see a pool of standing water and some kind of floodgate that was closed. I suppose the water flow is controlled here. Later when I looked at on-line photos of the Natural Bridge I saw lots of pictures of the bridge with high water completely covering the valley floor beneath the arch. We
The far side of the natural bridge
were fortunate to be able to walk up under it today. We gathered the required information in order to log Picketts Lake Natural Bridge Earthcache (GC151RK) and then took lots of pictures. Once again geocaching had brought us to a place that we'd never have known about otherwise.

After hiking back to the minivan we loaded so we could drive up to the park gift shop where we took advantage of a good sale on walking sticks and park badges, etc. We asked the rangers there if traditional geocaches were allowed in the park. They told us that its up to each park and that at Pickett State Park in Tennessee traditional cachers were not allowed. We did our best to encourage them to allow traditional caches in the future as a drawing card for more tourist. I hope they will consider what we said. Nonetheless, allow me to recommend a visit to this park and the two earthcaches when you get the opportunity. You'll be impressed!

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