BREAKS, Va. — The Towers have guarded the Russell Fork River near here for about 200 million years.
That time line is at great odds with the creation theory that I also believe. It doesn't seem to me to be a bit incongruous that I believe The Breaks of the Virginias was an act of creation. I have the faith to understand that God created it. I suspect that it's not meant for me to understand the difference in the time line of the creation of this work of beauty and the creation of man.
They call it The Breaks because a cataclysmic event broke the backbone of the Appalachians near Elkhorn City, Ky., so the Russell Fork could flow through Pine Mountain and fools like me can go white water rafting. It all happened a long time before anyone suspected there would be an Elkhorn City. That series of events does not fit into Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man elsewhere on this site.
I give man a great deal of credit for not wanting the progress of man to infringe on the solitude of The Breaks.
I can't begin to estimate the time that I've watched The Towers from one vantage point or another during the last 25 years. I've taken close friends there to learn to share the solitude. Mostly I've gone there alone to relish the little patch wilderness.
At times I've stared up at The Towers from the Garden Hole, a place on the river. At other times the view comes from one of the overlooks. My favorite view is from Lover's Leap. I invite very few people there to share that space with me. It's as if others will use up all that I have experienced watching The Towers.
The memories of that space include a Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) gliding on a strong updraft out of the gorge. Most people would describe it as a hawk. He regarded me with a cock of his head. He proceeded on about his business and ignored the intruder in his space.
Solitude at The Breaks has taught me three important truths:
No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
~Henry David Thoreau, 1854
The mark of solitude is silence, as speech is the mark of community. Silence and speech have the same inner correspondence and difference as do solitude and community. One does not exist without the other. Right speech comes out of silence, and right silence comes out of speech.