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Protecting The Best Known Pond In The World

“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. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”

— Henry David Thoreau



If you wish to enter the Great Smokie Mountains National Park you drive through Gattlensburg, Tennessee until you see the sign.

Then you enter. In back of you is a busy town, with all the amenities. In front of you is wilderness, with NO amenities. For those you leave the park.

For what is likely the most most famous pond in the world along with its environmens, you drive down US Route 2, come to the traffic light at Massachusttes Route 126. After a mile or so you see a wooded partking entrance on your left, followed by “headquarters,” a small bookstore and if you are watchful, down a steep embankment you will see Walden Pond. So you park and start walking.

It is not developed but it is far from prestine and natural until you descend the concrete steps, perhaps 30 vertical feet down to the shore of the pond.

Walden Pond happens to be the only pond suitable for swimming in a heavily populated and upscale area. In summer its a very popular bathing beach.

Walden Pond is a 100 foot deep kettlehole from the last ice age and is clear and pure. It is spring and rainwater fed and there are no traces of polution. The principle sign of human intrusion is the well-beaten character of the path around the pond. The path is elevated and fenced in an attempt to keep it usable. On a reasonably warm day it is rush hour traffic. When it is cold and rainy, only an occasional visit, which might be me.

I might circle the pond or I might stop and photograph at Wyman Meadow and then head back to the car.

The state owns about 2000 acres, but did not own some nearby land slated for development. The hero of this story is Don Henly of the Rock Band, The Eagles, who raised 86 million dollars, bought 96 acres of important land, built a goregeous library and cast the future in reasonable certainity. However, as time goes by and politics plays, and individuals assert themselves, nothing is certain.

My adventuring began by pure luck. My wife worked at the agency in charge of the state reservation and one of her colleagues suggested I go to walden. I did and I photogaphed it for 10 years and published two books of photographs and excerpts of the writings of Henry David Thoreau. It is has had a large impact on my life and on my photolab where I print (and sell) pictures taken in what I call "greater Walden" although it is largly within the state reservation. I put one picture below to illustrate that what I found was not what one would expect around a kettlehole pond. There is more in the various galleries.

Ipswich Sunset
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