Icy Beauty

January 26, 2017  |  Permalink

Winter may be the most unpopular season for outdoor recreation but there is spectacular natural beauty for those who brave the elements. An old saying I have heard goes, “there is no bad weather, just bad clothing”. While that might not always be true, it implies that you can outfit yourself for a better outdoor experience. Dress for the weather and winter can be a very rewarding season for nature enthusiasts.

Winter can be dark and grey but certain conditions can present you with incredible scenic wonders. A string of days with temperatures below freezing can build fairyland castles around waterfalls. Recently, I led a group on a hike to see a waterfall in just such conditions. After the tough hike across rocks on steep slopes and a challenging stream crossing, many in the group were wondering if it was worth it. As we came within view of Ranger Creek Falls the exclamations of everyone dispelled any doubt. The mist had coated every branch and rock near the falls with a white ‘snow like’ ice. All said the tough hike was indeed beautifully rewarded. Other falls that weekend were just as spectacular but each was uniquely decorated. My favorite was Boardtree Falls with those long bumpy icicles.

Of course the right conditions for an ice show at our waterfalls are fairly rare but a few occur every winter. No ice, no problem, the winter is also the time of year when the streams flow reliably and the falls are breathtaking. So go out, dressed appropriately, and enjoy a waterfall this winter.

I have several waterfall tours coming up; some are 3 day vacation packages and some are day tours. It is a lot of fun sharing a winter outing and a bit safer too, join us!

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About the author

Randy Hedgepath

Tennessee State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath is a native of west Tennessee, where his family’s farm was just 15 miles from the Tennessee River. After graduating from UT Martin and working seasonally for several years for the National Park Service and Tennessee State Parks, he has spent the last 33 years with state parks. Randy worked as a ranger/naturalist at South Cumberland State Park on the Cumberland Plateau and at Radnor Lake Natural Area in Nashville until 2007 when he was given the opportunity to be the statewide naturalist for the state park system.