Blue Hole, TN
Good news! There is, in fact, rock climbing within a half hour of Johnson City. For anyone who doesn't know, I live in Asheville and my girlfriend, Melissa, lives in Johnson City--a place not exactly known for climbing. So when I'm there visiting, I'm generally planning how we can get to Boone for the day! But at an hour away, it's not always practical. So when we heard rumors from a friend that this swimming hole called Blue Hole had rock, we were more than skeptical. Simply put, non-climbers don't know what climbable rock looks like. For example, we recently drove past a chossy quarry with one guy from JC and he said, "Hey, can you climb that?! You use those steel-toed boots with the nails on 'em, right?" Yes, it's 1945, pal!
Anyway, we drove up to Blue Hole thinking we could at least get some swimming in--and were surprised to find a lot of rock there. It's a strange mix of quartz-like rock and a sandstone conglomerate I'm guessing. There are a few boulders and some low cliffs, some with overhangs and most slabby, but all waaay dirty! The route and bouldering potential is limited, and time investment is probably high thanks to moss, but it's mentally calming somehow to know there is rock near at hand. (I know, I've got a problem!) Even without the rock, Blue Hole is a pretty neat area--kind of a mini, mini gorge with a cool swimming hole and a couple of small waterfalls. I'm sure we''ll be heading back soon, fat toothbrushes in hand. And to watch locals do back flips off the cliff above the falls. Check out this blog for more info and directions.
Posted by Matt P.