Sunday, February 14, 2010

Coming Home

I first came to the Smoky Mountains nine years ago in 2000. Upon arriving here, I knew that I had come home. The beauty of the Smokies captured my heart. The first trail I visited was Abram's Falls Trail in Cades Cove. Having never been an outdoors person or someone into sports, I was surprised by my immediate attraction to hiking. I began going to the mountain trails as much as possible, experiencing the "personality" each different trail had. I grew to love being there, it being the sole activity I wished to pursue.
After a time, health issues began to make it harder to do what I loved. The hikes became shorter and simpler. My last hike was the short, (what should have been a simple walk) to  Hen Wallow Falls. After struggling to hike this easy trail, I knew it was time to give up. As I drove home, I made the decision that it would be my last. Heartbroken, longing to be on a trail, I stopped going into the mountains.
Four years passed without a hike. This past year, August 2009, I decided that nothing, including how bad I felt, would keep me from what I loved. I began to get onto the trails, slowly but surely.
They have become my strength, my solace, my oasis, my escape, my Eden, my Secret Garden. The crystal clear waters, massive boulders, kaleidoscope of fall colors, snow covered grounds of winter, pale green of spring and warmth of a summer day there are medicine.
Above all, the very spirit of the Smokies, this collage of history and beauty of present form the soul that can be felt, if you only take the time to notice.