Quiet Roar

I live around 40 minutes from Tennessee’s newest state park. Rocky Fork is just over 2000 acres, surrounded by an additional 7600 acres of national forest. When the land became available, buying and protecting it was the number one purchase priority in in the nation by the US Forest Service. It was described as the largest privately owned and unprotected land tract in the Appalachian Mountains. There were many bidders including a plan for a housing development. The state worked closely with local conservation groups to raise funds for the purchase.
Rocky Fork is named for the rushing river running through the park. It is a park full of water, with many streams feeding into the creek. The deep gorge creates cool shade much of the day, and year. Even when hiking there in summer it can feel quite cool, a place that makes its own climate.
Whenever I go there, I instantly soak in the wonderful peace. There are no sounds other than the rushing waters and birdsong. Because of the enormous size of the park, there is a true feeling of wilderness. Right now spring rains have filled the creek, and it rushes through the forest tumbling with a noisy chatter over the namesake rocks. Sometimes I pause just to listen, trying to decipher the conversation between rock and river, a language stretching back to times I can only imagine. If I listen long enough, I can hear the deep quiet of this roaring river.