Big South Fork NRRA is close to home, yet I have many miles to cover before I can truly "know" the area. I spent a couple days down in the area at the first of the year. The first day I met a handful of friends and we rode MTB and had a great time. They all rolled out after our ride and I stayed to camp for the night.
Going a bit back in the woods and finding a nice place to set up for the night, I built a fire (using veggie stick snacks) and cooked my dinner for the night. It was a clear night, so clear that I was upset that the trees blocked the view of a nice long shutter photo. Being a handful of miles from the closest town and not having any light pollution to distort the sky was nice. When morning came it was flurrying and a bit colder than the day before.
After I awoke I drove to a trailhead so I could hike out to an overlook for breakfast (fairly remote area, 4-5 miles back to a paved road). I get there and I go to check out the trail map to see how far out it is. As I stand there I start to hear loud breathing and heavy "puffs" of air, I got a little spooked. Definitely a mammal of some kind that didn't care for me to be around. As I walk back to my car (hand on bear spray) I decide Huddle House sounds pretty good!
Making the call to go into town was a good one. On my way in I see a fire tower not far outside the town of Onedia, TN. I make a turn and start driving towards it. It was easy to locate because it stood above the tree line and wasn't far off a paved road. When I got to the base of the tower I found a Forestry Office. I enter in and ask if I could go up there, mention that I am a photographer and would like to get some pictures (I have always wanted to go up in one). The guy smiles, says "at your own risk" and hands me a key so I can go inside it. Excited is an understatement to explain how I felt.
Climbing up it was cold. It was slightly snowing still and where this was on top of a hill and exposed it was catching a lot of wind. I am not afraid of heights, but a few of the steps had a little more flex than what I prefer. When getting inside the top it was nice because it blocked the wind. It was a bit difficult to get any good long perspective shots because of the hazy, snowy day. I was ok with that though, it just gives me a reason to go back. I spent a bit of time in there just looking around and enjoying it.
It never fails to amaze me at how the smallest things that happen unexpectedly can be some of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences. I can't wait to find another fire tower to say the least.