We’ve added another member to the crew, Jason, and his first day is a tough one. The haul up the first mountain is long and steep. Then we go back down. Then we start back up again. I walk a bit ahead and as the day progresses my lead increases. Jason is a smoker, but assures me that within a week he’ll be “battle hardened”; little do we know that it won’t take him nearly that long. As we start our final ascent of the day Jason stops and gasps, “I’ve gotta take a fiver.” I’m about 40 feet in front (and 20 feet above) him, so I sit on a nearby rock and wait. I’m not concerned. I figure he’ll do okay--at least as well as anyone else could be expected to do.
As Jason stumbles wearily up the dirt road I see Carl on a deer stand—more like a deer platform—that someone has built way up in a high-tension tower. He waves and it looks like he’s having fun, so I stop and once he comes down I go up. At the top the platform (a piece of wood simply laid across a corner angle) is small and the footing precarious. It’s a very long way down. I wonder for a moment what hunter would be crazy enough to sit up here with a gun waiting for a deer to pass by below. Then I quickly realize there’s plenty of ‘em. Hell, now I’m up here too.
Alright, there's a little photo trickery here. The first and third shots are from Hamilton County, not Marion. That middle photo is from inside a coal mine in Sequatchie County. Did you know you can die from going in old coal mines? The culprit is known as "black damp." We'll get to that later.