Conservation Report: Cummins Falls State Park


Team Monster Nash woke up early(er than usual) to make the almost 2 hour drive to Cummins Falls, a Tennessee State park where we would carry out our last CP. Just barely making the poorly marked turn onto a long gravel road, we pulled into a large expanse of open parking lot, decorated with nothing but bleached gravel and a small informational sign. We were the only car. Where was the ranger?
We creaked our bodies out of our cars, stretched in bastardized yoga poses, laid on the ground in the sunlight, and waited. I slumped on the dusty rocks like a slug, lethargic from the long car ride. Sam hollered and attempted to thrash Erica with a left behind walking stick. Tyler and Lindsey waited in the cars and camping chairs ever-patiently, singing their favorite Nicki Minaj songs. Stephanie looked like a funky Mary Poppins, holding one of our busted survey umbrellas to protect herself from the sun. Eventually someone found that the other road, which was gated off, was actually unlocked. We drove down and behold! There was the head of the trail to the falls!
Stephanie talked to Ray on the phone, who apparently had been tied up with a project at Fall Creek Falls and that meant there was more waiting. It gave us time to walk down and take a look from the top of the cascades, nerdily observe the diverse and abundant fungi under the old oak trees, and eat our lunches.
Soon enough Ray met up with us, a seasoned and chipper Ranger, and explained that he wanted to cover up some areas of trail with brush in order to divert people away from a path that has been created down to the top of the falls. Coincidentally this was the area over which we had just crossed. Oops.
Cummins Falls, Ray said, was only recently converted into a park from an old family private property, and was fairly untouched. The path down to the falls had been used informally for a long time. He seemed to enjoy it, mentioning that he had a lot of freedom in shaping trails and pioneering projects. This was a new perspective and a break from the heavily used and trail-less Army Corps Rec areas, and the bustling Radnor lake trail. He was visibly glad that we could help out.
We gravitated towards a fallen tree, where Ray some technical difficulties starting up his chainsaw. He bore this with the most contained frustration and level patience of any person I’ve ever seen toiling with a stubborn machine. His only visible betrayal of irritation was in his slightly strained smile after about the 15th attempt. Eventually, Ray miraculously started the chainsaw and we began carrying segments of felled tree to create a helter-skelter arrangement of a barricade.
We moved 5 or so trees into a thicket of logs and twigs/ covering back to the edges of the trail. Soon enough it was time to stop and admire our work. It looked as if a deranged beaver had become confused and attempted to make a dam on-land. Although it was a hot mess of a blockade, we concurred that it would certainly prevent people from walking through.
We chatted with Ray and thanked him. We then wasted no time to pick our way down to the falls and enjoying the rest of our day in the beautiful sun, and the cold, clear and roaring water.

Written by Brenna Taylor