15/50: Woodall Mountain, Mississippi [807’]

Any water that drips from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians will eventually find its way into the Mississippi River. I crossed this mighty black river as stormclouds gathered ominously overhead, and my entire time in Mississippi was marked by water, from the river to the rain.

 

Yellow Dog bridge Mississippi

 

Much of the land I traversed was made by the Mississippi. The river slices the United States from top to bottom, sweeping silt and sand into the Gulf and piling it up into an ever-growing delta. Every thousand or so years, it piles up so much land that it naturally changes course, seeking out the fastest way to gush into the Gulf. For half a century the Army Corps of Engineers have strung reins on the mighty Mississippi, wrangling it to New Orleans while it tries to tug wildly west to the Atchafalaya.

 

One day it will break free.

 

map source, Army Corp of Engineers, "Geologic Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River," Harold Fisk, 1944
map source, Army Corp of Engineers, “Geologic Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River,” Harold Fisk, 1944

A river can’t be tamed.

Far to the northeast, I’m still surrounded by water, this time a solid cold rain. The sky remained dark all day, the only nod to the memory of the sun a low fog that rode the ground during the hottest part of the day. I’d planned to hike the mile or so up the rough road from the pavement to the swell of the summit, but this lugubrious sky in the heart of hunting season kept me in the car. The autumn trees folded overhead, blacking out what little light remained beyond the rainclouds.

Woodall Mountain Mississippi

Mississippi’s highpoint is marked by a boulder placed in a gravel cul-de-sac, guarded by tall radio towers taking advantage of the prominence.  On a clear day there might have been a view, and indeed a small plaque describes the hill as a lookout point during the Civil War’s bloody Battle of Iuka, but today the indigo sky hides this profane history behind a curtain of rain, streaming steadily downhill to the black river miles below.

Woodall Mountain Mississippi      Woodall Mountain Mississippi

 

About the beer: 

When you order an iced tea in Mississippi, you inevitably get “sweet tea,” a concoction that my southwest/midwest palate identifies as incredibly sweet, like it’s half sugar and half tea.  Their Southern Pecan from Lazy Magnolia follows the same pattern, a nicely rounded English Brown spiked with the taste of glazed sugar-crusted roasted pecans, the sort you’d buy in a wrapped paper cone from a sidewalk vendor around Christmastime. It’s sweet and warm and undoubtably pecan-y– if there was a liquid pecan version of a box of Cracker Jacks, this would be it. As sweet as a magnolia blossom and lovely for a stormy November afternoon beyond a black river.

Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan - Woodall Mountain - Mississippi

photo taken slightly beyond the highpoint, since Tishomingo is a dry county, and while I might occasionally bend the law, I’m sure not going to post evidence on the internet.

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