A hot and steamy September afternoon couldn’t keep our intrepid group of six 4-6th grade girls and four Girls Outside guides trapped indoors! Ijams’ Mead’s Quarry provided the perfect retreat. After a little getting to know you and some Leave No Trace charades, the girls began by experimenting with brand new binoculars and guide books generously donated by the Tennessee Ornithological Society. Then, time to hit the trail — here’s the highlights!
We hiked out to the Ross Marble Area and found the Rock Bridge and Key Hole first. Several of the girls were familiar with the spot and showed off first-hand knowledge of the best places to scramble over the rocks. We all paused for a while to hang out over the natural “air conditioning unit” provided by cool air flowing out of a spring-fed cave. Also tried in vain for find a calling catbird mewing from thick brush.
Then, onward to another enchanting spot — Hayworth Hollow — which provided lots of neat areas to explore as well as cool respite in a shady ravine. A mud wallows at the trail end proved to be too tempting — many of the girls crept out to sink their shoes into the cool mud, a few up to their ankles. One girl proclaimed that mud is “good for the skin.” The adult guides decided to take her word for it.
So, what are you to do when your shoes are covered in mud? Well, go wading of course. The trip ended with a trek back to the lake in Mead’s Quarry, where girls waded up to their knees at the boat ramp, some choosing to just sit or lie down in the shallow water. The water in this spring-fed lake is so clean that freshwater jellyfish make their home there. Unfortunately we didn’t spot any. One girl caught a minnow by making her cupped hands into a tiny fishbowl.
Amazing to think that this area was once a bustling quarry, then later a neglected dumping ground. With great regard for all the folks who helped clean up and restore the area to the recreation spot it is today — it’s now an amazing spot for a group of young adventurers to spend an afternoon!