07-Oct-2018 -- As I had just arrived in Tennessee for a series of workshops and presentations focused on geotechnologies, and as I would be quite busy over the next week with those presentations and today was the only day possible to get into the field, and as the Degree Confluence Project would not be possible without geotechnologies, I considered it my solemn duty to attempt to visit a point. Hence, as soon as I arrived at the Knoxville airport, I set out for 36 North 83 West.
From the Knoxville airport, I drove north along a very busy US highway, that was in the process of being improved since it was no doubt carrying much of the airport traffic. I then headed then northeast on I-40 to US Highway 411. Traffic was still heavy on this road as well despite it being a Sunday. But I knew that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, not far away, had for years been the most popular national park of any of them. I looked forward to exiting the freeway, because as a geographer, love the back roads best. Once I exited, indeed, all sorts of photographic moments presented themselves, from an old theatre and bowling alley to a American Legion Hall, Debbie's drive in diner, and a wonderful historical downtown at Newport. Alas, I was in a bit of a hurry, as I needed to do some work preparation this evening for my upcoming presentations. Hence at the downtown I turned northeast at US Highway 321 without taking a single photo (though upon my return an hour later, I did take a photo of the Resurrection Boxing Club in downtown Newport). US 321 was a beautiful road, especially here in Autumn with the sun sinking lower, and I could not help taking a photo when I turned at Salem Road from the Salem Lutheran Church of the breathtaking view. The ridges in the distance, the cemetery in the foreground, and all of the green trees and pastures combined for a wondrous vista. I then took quite a while to reach the point, driving about 15 mph on Peanut Road and Kenyon Road, because they were all winding and one lane wide, with Kenyon being gravel in addition. But it was grand to be rising and falling with the ridges and hollows. Truly this is a magnificent part of the world. At a bend in Kenyon Road about 1350 feet (411 meters) northwest of the confluence, I stopped and gathered supplies.
The farm at this point proclaimed that it was part of the American Tree farm conservation network, which I took as a good sign; perhaps the landowner would not mind a geographer there. I walked up the lane, to the house, and knocked. I could see that the front room was devoid of furniture. The yard was well maintained so I could not determine if it was occupied or not. But apparently someone was maintaining the property. But, hearing no answer, I proceeded to the southeast, past a pond where some cows were having a delightful afternoon dip. They left the pond when I walked up despite my entreaties for them to go ahead and have an additional soak.
Fortunately, no dogs or snakes were present. There were scarcely any thorny plants. Then it was up a rather ridge to the south, where I was treated to one of the nicest views from any confluence hike I have taken in 20 years.
After I crested the ridge, I became a bit concerned that I might have to cross a wet marshy area that lay straight ahead to reach the point, but after a few minutes I found the confluence before I reached it. I descended the ridge and arrived at the confluence about 8 minutes later. The air temperature was a very warm 86 degrees F (31 C) under mostly sunny skies but with some thunderclouds out to the east. It was late afternoon in early Autumn and a beautiful, despite the heat, day. I got quite dirty getting to the point, and was wearing my work clothing; I would have to wipe it off later, but it was totally worth the effort. The confluence lies in a valley that might be around 1/3 mile wide, with a high ridge off to the east. The point therefore is mostly hidden from the surrounding terrain. About 15 meters off to the east is a bathtub and a circular watering facility for livestock, but the confluence itself lies on grass that is about a foot high. It was a peaceful spot. I saw a large bird circling off to the west but no people, and no other animals, and from the point, no buildings can be seen. I knew that mine was the fourth visit to this point.
I had stood on 36 North several times in the past, from 36 North 119 West in California all the way to a bean field at 36 North 78 West in North Carolina on the east. I had also stood on 83 West in the past, but only once before, in Ohio at 40 North 83 West, back in 2005. This was my first Tennessee confluence in 4 years, and I was glad to be back. I have a tidy collection of 5 or so confluences in this state including a few near its southern border which may be listed in Mississippi or Georgia, but all of them have been quite beautiful.
I walked back the way I had come in, filming a video as I walked through the curious cattle there; fortunately no bulls were present, and they parted for me but not before I could practically touch them. No one was at the house. I arrived back at the vehicle after about a 55 minute hike. The adventure was not quite over, because on the way back to I-40, I drove on an absolutely beautiful set of roads. First, from the confluence, I drove southwest on the remainder of Kenyon Road, which rose and fell in a series of ridges with all sorts of surprises. Then I drove southwest along Long Creek Road, a one lane paved road which was every bit as beautiful, followed by US 25 and US 70, which, even though a federal highway, followed French Broad River along a picture-perfect valley. Once back in Newport, I had made a circle in the surrounding countryside. And I had one more treat--a orange-red sunset as I returned to Knoxville. It was indeed a wonderful way to start the work week! Get out there and explore!