A Frosty Scene, Complete with Snow Queen, at Bald River Falls
You never know what is around the next turn when you travel through East Tennessee.
My latest road trip brings me to the lair of the Snow Queen in “The Chronicles of Narnia.”
Or so it seems…
I follow Tellico River Road as it winds along the river and deep into Cherokee National Forest. Rock outcroppings wear giant icicles like glittering jewelry. Snow drapes hang from rock formations at Bald River Falls. Water crashes from the rim, casting spray into the frosty air. On this overcast morning, the light is wan and fleeting.
As I admired the otherworldly winter landscape, my eyes fall on a young woman in a sleeveless white lace gown standing like a statue at the bottom of the falls. Sparkling diamonds circle her neck and trim her pure-white puffed hair. She moves her head toward the spray as if to catch ice crystals on her shimmering face and eyelashes. Then, she further embraces the cold by lounging on a snow bank.
Perhaps she is channeling recording artist Lady Gaga, a kindred spirit of outlandish attire and tattoos. With a photographer capturing the scene, I’m thinking she is a model on a photo shoot. She couldn’t have picked a more spectacular backdrop. Icy water tumbles down a 90-foot rock cascade and splashes across giant grey boulders before it thunders into the Tellico River. Tall trees flank the falls, their branches bare and dark against green rhododendron.
A few other bystanders watch her as if hypnotized and not quite believing what they see. They huddle on the bridge in front of the falls. One woman tells me her husband proposed marriage here 10 years ago, and now she is back with him and their young daughter. “Two days ago, the falls were almost completely frozen over,” she says. Warmer temperatures since the deep freeze in late January are thawing the ice.
A trailhead for a 5-mile path is nearby, but rain clouds are threatening, so no one wants to take a walk in the woods. Although some of the bakeries and cafes in Tellico Plains are closed in mid-winter, a hot cup of coffee and conversation aren’t hard to find in Monroe County. Wouldn’t it be fun to hear the little girl tell everyone about the Snow Queen and icicles?
Have you experienced the wonder of Bald River Falls? Tell me your memories in the comments.