So the Sheriff wrote another book, and this one is could be my favorite. It is a telling of stories about the Cherokee National Forest and surrounding areas. I think part of the reason is that I like it so much, except for the wonderful photography, is that he wrote as we hiked, explored and wandered around lots of places looking for a specific spot of property, a person’s grave or some bizarre useless fact that he didn’t already have stored in his bald head. Doing all of these things, then writing and taking pictures, was so much fun that it has made this more than a book for us. It was an adventure. We are happy to finally share it with everybody.
As always, along the way, we had a lot more adventures and experiences that didn’t make the final cut. He had to narrow it down to the most important things, you know, like who the excellent photographer is. (That had better made the final cut. You guys let me know if your copy doesn’t have it.) So it has some really great stories to read and really great stories to repeat. All great stories are to be retold, especially campfire stories.
Because all of the behind the scenes stuff can’t possibly make it into the book, we thought we’d share some of that with you here, if you’re interested.
One of the best stories and part of the inspiration for the book itself is the Hollow Tree story. Now, don’t worry. I’m not going to spoil it for you. However, if you ever, ever get a chance to hear the Sheriff tell this particular story, you should sit and listen intently because it’s an experience like no other. If you don’t believe me, ask my kids and ask the E.G. Fisher Book Club who were subjected to his nonsense last fall.
This story takes place in a campground off the Tellico River in the Cherokee National Forest. It’s a place we have taken our boys on numerous occasions. It is a wonderful, primitive campground with plenty of room for a big tent, a camper or even your old Suburban when your husband forgets the tent poles. It also has some very neat features that, to me, always make any place more interesting-nature trails, abandoned things and a historical background. This campground has all three, even aside from this story.
I cannot recall a single time have we camped there, whether it be by ourselves, with friends or with other family members, that we hear this story told around a campfire, after dark and just before bedtime. It has become a tradition. Even when our boys were little, they sat and listened in the dark with big wide eyes. Even though they knew how the ending would go, they sat stiff as a board all the way through. It is one of those stories that make that last trip to the bathhouse, before bedtime, a quick one.
Now it is not a story for the faint of heart and best heard in the dark. It’s best heard when camping around your fire. When you can set up camp in the ill-fated campsite where it allegedly happened, it’s even better-if you can find the site open. We have visited the site several times on our way through the mountains while getting this book ready. We have seen some strange things, some rather large footprints (one of which made the book, I think) and of course, you always hear weird things in the woods at night!
On one recent trip through, I wanted to stop and take a picture of us at the scene of the crime. I even offered to re-enact the story in pictures, but the Sheriff thought that was a little much. (If you read the Hollow Tree story, you will see why he thought that). When we got to the campground, we were so excited to find that the famous campsite was not occupied. There were other campers all over different parts of the campground, but this spot and the two spots around it were empty. I guess that other campers are not as morbid or have the same strange curiosity as we do, so we had the entire back part of the campground to ourselves to enjoy a few minutes of peace and quiet time.
What you find, when you hang out at this particular campsite for very long is for some strange reason, your actions tend to become repetitive. You find yourself repeating something you just said two or three times. You will repeat an activity several times in a row without really knowing why you did that. You will try to walk over to the old abandoned fireplace but may not ever make it past the picnic table. You might make several trips over to the old wooden picnic table, find yourself just standing there and cannot figure out why in the world you even walked over there. You also find yourself wanting to clean like crazy. It becomes like an obsession. Even though it is a primitive campsite with no water or electricity, you will just have this need for order and cleanliness that can’t be explained.
During our trips there this year, we have noticed the old hollow tree is gone. It may now be the one lying across the shallow stream that runs peacefully beside the campsite. I don’t know, but it’s no longer standing. The feeling of repetitiveness seems to have dissipated a bit, but we haven’t spent a whole night there so that may be why. But feelings of mystery and curiosity remain. I’ll be anxious to get back there, set up my tent to see if the same vibes still linger.
Who wants to go??? Be sure to bring your ax!
If you are interested in the real story (as told by Joe Guy, wink wink), you can click on one of the affiliate links below to order the book. And in the near future, you will find us various places doing repetitive things, like signing copies of this book over and over (we hope!).
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