Thursday, February 18, 2010

Shared Secrets

Having a little extra time, I decide to walk up Bote Mountain Trail. I seldom set out with a thought as to how the trail will make me feel on a certain day. Some trails, by their "personality" have a mood already set.
Bote Mountain Trail brings to mind the route that was used to reach Spence Field in the past by James Spence, but nature itself begins to override thoughts of history as I climb. On this hike, the splendor of the earth stands out. I begin to think of those who can't or haven't yet been able to come to the Smokies. Daily, I remind myself not to take for granted the blessing of living here. I think of those unable and wish to convey this beauty.
During my walk, there are still slight snow flurries, the snowflakes so small, as to be almost invisible. Rocky surfaces of the mountain peek from beneath the snow here and there. Snow, that has lain for several days now, pops and cracks loudly with each step, reverberating through the hills.
The rock face of the mountain wall beside me has crevices and fissures so deep, I could stick an arm in and have it disappear. Lichen, covering the rocks, is one of the few remaining greens out here. There are many fallen trees left from a recent windstorm. Several inches of snow line each one, creating an interesting aspect to the view.
I edge closely to the dropoff on my right, peering down through limbs to see the stream far below. As always, here in the Smokies, it is crystal clear. I can see the bed of the creek, even from where I stand.
I move on. A fallen tree lies across the path. I use the walking stick that I carry to steady my footing. I am thankful for it, especially with my feet slipping occasionally on the ice. The snow has melted somewhat and become hard packed. This has left a surface that I can glide my feet on, as if on skates. In other places, my feet sink deeply into the snow. My shoes and the hem of my pants are damp already.
I pick up a sound as I move along. Tilting my head, I see the stirring of the trees high above. It is the sound of the whisper wind moving through the firs. Looking up in this manner, leaves me feeling very small. I have never heard the mountain speak in this exact dialect.
With the winter trees and snow covered ground, I am in a monochrome world. The only color are the few splashes of green and the red mud where a bit of snow has melted.
Hearing a taptap resonating from the woods, I scan the trees. I find the source. A woodpecker is perched on the side of a tree. I now recognize the sound that I had heard on a previous hike. It appears that I have disturbed it, as it flies away.
Even though curve after curve in the trail had drawn me, I stop. I know that I have reached my limit. I stand still, listening to the sound of the mountain secrets being confessed on the breeze. My heart returns the confidence by letting go of my own. Knowing that here, I will never be rejected.
As I turn to leave, I pause. Facing me is an untouched snowbank. Respectfully, with my walking stick, I carefully carve the words "The Smokies Whisperer" into it.
Feeling that I have left my presence in this simple manner, I turn and walk away.