Warnings at High Falls State Park

Imagine the feeling o top of the world as you tower on a boulder above a rapid river. Suddenly, your foot slips, you plunge beneath the surface as intense water pressure and gravity forces you to the bottom of the mad river. The temperature of the water is the least of your worries. The half of breath left in your lungs is all the survival you have before fluid replaces the air and you drown. Perhaps your last thoughts are the four warning signs you passed to get to that boulder. Your last feeling is regret for not heeding those warnings.

According to the 11Alive.com investigation article at High Falls State Park, there have been fourteen reported injuries since 2013, three fatalities.

When I recently visited the park, bright red warning signs were outlining the rapid river bank. Honestly, how could anyone miss them? You can barely get a decent photo of the waterfall without one of the many signs in the way. An observant hiker takes note of information boards that are usually located at the beginning of a trail. As I read the board, I notice the same-o same-o about the history of the area, the map of the trail, what committee sponsors the trail, blah, blah, blah. Management of the park posted a warning post stating that anyone climbing on the rocks has to pay a $5,000 fine and do over 100 hours of community service. It probably results in janitorial duties. Yikes.

You see the first few warning signs when you descend the steps leading to the best view of the waterfall and rapid waves. After that, it is obvious what you should and shouldn’t do while hiking the trail. Park management went so far as to create a barrier using twine to rope off the bank’s edge. Honestly, I’m not sure what else could be done to clarify the danger of the raging river. I hope that visitors be responsible and heed to the warnings so the park won’t be forced to put up large fence walls.

It’s cold.

FORT CLINCH: A Memory Built to Last

Florida rolls forward through the hurricane season. After Hurricane Matthew and Irma’s destruction of homes and coastlines, it has become a learned lesson that to rebuild, we must build something that will last. Take a page out of the book of the men who constructed the infamous Fort Clinch in Fernandina. For every brick that held the walls and buildings were built with a purpose. These bricks laid were for the defense and the protection of everything the fighting soldiers held dear.

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When you visit Fort Clinch, before you prepare to enter the fort, you can sense the danger that loomed on the hearts of the regiments. At the entrance of the fort, two lines of large wooden spikes greet you.  What better way to invite you into the chaotic world of military defense than to give you a taste of what enemies faced if they ever tried to breach the fort? After you pass through the brick hall into the parade, the view instantly takes you back. Your first sight is the American flag whipping in the wind that comes from the beach’s shore, a positive reminder to the men to remember why they fight.

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With each room and corridor you explore through, a clearer picture of the fort’s history forms in your mind, the canons pointed toward the ocean, the small beds and cold cement floors the men dealt with, the social hall where they danced and talked, and the many passage ways leading to other parts of the fort.

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The bricks that make up the fort witnessed much danger and happy times between 1847 and 1945. Everything from expanded construction, to surviving three major wars, Fort Clinch’s fortified walls aren’t just years of labor with masonry and dirt; they are the surviving pieces of history that continue to remind us that to defend what we hold dear, we must construct something that is built to last.