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Monday, April 18, 2011

In our BackYard

It dawned on me that our travels take us through and across our large backyard.  Like our home yard we can take that for granted.  Having had this profound thought I want to embark on a series of articles reflecting the various "backyards" we encounter along the trails.

First of these was explored the weekend of April 8-9.  Our habit is to reside at the Canal Campground at Grand Rivers for several weeks during this Spring time it seemed we should continue our exploration of the history of this area.  Now, obscure history seems to find me even when I am hiding.  Pulled by unknown and possible mystic forces, I propelled my self and loving wife to explore Mantle Rock.
As seen from Highway 133, Mantle Rock is marked but somewhat obscure historical area in western Kentucky near the banks of the Ohio River.    Marking the winter camping ground for the Cherokee Indians walking the "Trail of Tears" this short trail has mystical, ghostly remembrances for the forced march of the native Americans.
The aerial photos depicts the current hiking trail to the natural arch of Mantel Rock.  Now being an adventurous couple we chose to hike the long way around to get a feel of the "trail of tears".  A portion of the current trail follows along the original trail of tears.  Imagine walking in the foot steps of these Americans from the 1800's.  Many hiked several hundred miles during the forced march west.  As we stumbled along the trail, slipping in mud and moss, our path was a lark compared to the exhausted Americans carrying children, food, water and their limited possessions.  Our walk along this portion of the trail was void of human tracks but decorated with spring flowers, singing birds and water trickling down to the creek.  This is a moment to let your imagination soar.

After traversing the down the ridge to discover a gently flowing creek we were directed off the Trail of Tears as it crosses private property.  The marked trail leads you along the creek.  It is easy to imagine the exhausted Cherokee kneeling for water, filling gourds, skins and possibly a quick meal.
 The creek pools just below this portion of the ridge.  Suddenly you begin stumbling across limestone boulders, climbing higher on the ridge.  Large out croppings appear and you know you have reached the Mantel.  But wait, the ridge continues along more creek with even larger boulders and pools.  Rounding a portion of the ridge you are confronted with Mantel Rock.  Oddly a large tree has grown behind the arch giving more life to the history of the rock.  The Mantel is 40 ft. high and 80 ft. long.  Unusually, I did not notice any graffiti or carving in the rock.  Another indication that the modern world has not blimished this historical location. 
I was warned that cosmic forces can be experienced near the Mantel Rock.  While cosmic forces may not be present, the historical feel of the formation is a reminder of the history of the Native American in our Backyard.  We only inhabit their land at present and we must be good guardians for the Americans who passed this way.    Soar with your imagination, explore new lands and find those mystic feelings along a new path.

Happy Trails,

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