Sunday, March 17, 2019

In 25 images: My 'brutal' trip down (and up) Lookout Mountain

Those two "wild" dogs in the background could not prevent me from completing my mission.
(CLICK ON ALL IMAGES TO ENLARGE.)
My goal: Reach the Cravens House, opposite the Iowa monument in the middle distance.
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On Nov. 24, 1863, gutsy Union soldiers fought their way up rugged Lookout Mountain during the "Battle Among The Clouds." On March 16, 2019, armed with a Fitbit and blessed with well-honed backwoods instincts, I battled my way down the Tennessee mountain, stepping through a puddle or two, climbing over 2-foot-high log obstacles and easily dodging a small but vicious white terrier. Simply brutal. My mission: Hike the Cravens Trail from the summit of Lookout Mountain at Point Park to the bottom ...  and then back up again. (And live to blog about it.) Estimated round-trip time: Two hours. Temperature: 40 degrees.

... I deftly walked down two long flights of steps, tightly grasping the ice-cold metal handrails. Seconds later, I was rewarded with a view of these remarkable works of art on the face of Lookout Mountain. Amazing placement for the weather-worn 29th Pennsylvania plaques. The regiment was organized in Philadelphia in 1861 ...


... and steps away is this fabulous plaque for the 111th Pennsylvania, soldiers recruited from Erie, Crawford and Warren counties. ...


... a close-up of the massive, bas-relief plaque reveals how some of the Pennsylvania boys advanced up the mountain. Yup, they occasionally deployed ladders during the assault ...


... the boulder-strewn side of Lookout Mountain. ...


... I photographed this helpful information on the trail marker during my descent. You know, just in case. ...


... One slip on the narrow Cravens Trail can lead to painful results. ...


... Tempting fate? Nah, I wouldn't do that, would I? ...


.... 45 minutes after my journey began, I reached the Robert Cravens House and plateau, the vortex of the Battle of Lookout Mountain. The house, destroyed during the war, was rebuilt in 1866...


... The beautiful view of Chattanooga, Tenn., and the Tennessee River from the front porch of the Cravens House. Ah, this would be a perfect time for one of those Cracker Barrel rocking chairs and a beer. But alas, I must be on my way. That's the Iowa monument in the middle distance. Perhaps my wife, an Iowa native, will appreciate. (On second thought, nah.) ...


... Confederates valiantly defended the Cravens plateau, but they were vastly outnumbered and outgunned. ...



... and be sure to visit the outstanding New York State monument near the Cravens House. ...


... On the lawn behind Cravens House, an early sign of spring. ...


... The seldom-visited 28th Pennsylvania and 59th Illinois monuments on a trail behind the Cravens House. Be warned: Poison ivy could ruin your visit here during the summer, according to a source extremely close to this blogger. ...


... A panoramic view of the monuments on the ridge behind the Cravens House. From left, the 28th Pennsylvania, 96th Illinois, 59th Illinois, 12th Illinois (in distance) and 147th Pennsylvania monuments (in foreground). ...


... On the 28th Pennsylvania monument, a tremendous carved forage cap. ...


... What? I have to go back up? Where's my vehicle? Oh, wait ...


...  I'm doomed! ...


... But nothing can truly stop me on the way up, not even this massive log. Thankfully I got a running start for my leap. ...


... It's not one of those high-tone, boutique hotels, but this will do if your fragile body can't make it back to the summit. (I wonder if a soldier used this crevice for refuge.) ...


.... I am almost back where this journey began. Hey, kid, get off of my steps. ...


... Like Douglas MacArthur, "I have returned." Slightly winded, but pride not wounded. On this spot in 1863, a certain high-ranking Union officer was photographed ....

(Library of Congress collection)
... Yes, Ulysses S. Grant (bottom left), clenching a stick -- or is it a cigar? -- in his mouth ...


... No victory cigar for me, however. My final results: 77 floors climbed, 12,500 steps walked, 2,000 calories burned, two hours elapsed and a deep appreciation achieved for the courage and grit of  Union soldiers who fought their way up Lookout Mountain.

Until next time ...

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11 comments:

  1. I just finished (last week) some letters by Edwin Whipple of the 111th Pennsylvania. I recognized the plaque you took a picture of on Lookout Mountain. Edwin was wounded in the fighting there. See: https://edwinmwhipple.home.blog

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  2. Wow, I feel like I just burned at least a dozen calories reading your great account. Keep up the good work and healthy climbing!

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  3. Really enjoy your travelogues John. Thanks for posting.

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  4. My wife and I are both born & raised in Iowa, hoping we can get there soon to stomp around a bit, would be nice to see the Iowa monument - always enjoy your articles John.

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  5. Love that carved kepi!!

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  6. I enjoy your self-deprecating first-hand accounts AND you made a story I’ve long known more real with your photographic journey. With gratitude...

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  7. Enjoyable presentation, as usual. I recently groused that I can't sustain the route step, even without the weight of an infantry man's gear. Wife reminded me that most of them were 60 years younger.

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  8. Some day soon I hope - thanks John

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  9. Another brilliant post - thank you for sharing these brilliant photographs and your words, too, as you have convinced me that I should visit the site.

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