Friday, March 12, 2010

Just for Fun

Feeling in a mischievous and bit of an energetic mood, I decide to go for a walk in the Smokies before the evening storms hit. I message a friend to let him know which of three trails I may choose. (Which would be the only safe thing that I did today) Somehow, I find myself on an entirely different trail than these altogether.
I choose a trail that I have not tried before. Something feels very familiar about the trail. Not far onto it, I pass backcountry hikers leaving. They are carrying so much gear that I began to look for their sherpa :) I am impressed because I couldn't make it to my mailbox carrying this amount of gear!
The temps are perfect for being here. The trail turns into a climb. I had to choose something with this incline today, just getting over an illness? The trail becomes muddy. I cling to the side of the hill, hanging onto tree after tree. I begin to channel Tarzan.
I feel the wind picking up from the approaching windstorm. I had told my friend that, as usual, if I heard the splintering of a tree my plan was to run.. in any direction. He said to stop and determine the tree, so I don't run under it. I say, "No, a moving target is harder to hit!" lol
I begin to sing, "I think I'm alone now. There doesn't seem to be anyone around", but am interrupted by the sound of a creaking tree. Not a pleasant sound with the wind blowing! I come across a tree that has fallen and is propped over the trail. I count to 3 and run under laughing.
Wait! I hear splintering. Grrr! As much as I want to run, I stand still and see a large tree swaying and creaking well away from the trail. I notice a massive vine hanging from another tree and am tempted to really play Tarzan. Considering the condition of the old tree, I think, "Not a bright idea." I begin to feel raindrops. Dark clouds are moving in. I've figured out what seems to familiar about the trail. It is a larger version of one of my favorite areas in the Smokies that I call "The Secret Garden".
Soon, I come upon a much wider stream crossing the trail. Walking up and down it, I search for a way across. I think to the walking stick that I left in the car. Not a good move. I hesitate, then head across anyway. I made it! It took balancing on fifteen rocks (yes, I counted) , but I made it. Yay me!
A third tree is leaning over the trail. 1.2.3 run! This trail looks like something in a foreign land. It reminds me of the first time I saw the Smokies. Thinking, "Hey, there are, actually, places that look like this outside of a calendar?" :))
I can't believe that I've made it this far. This isn't hard for others, but feeling as I do lately- it's Mt Everest. Maybe the B12 shot helped or I just had a really good night... I'm going with the night. :-))
With the rain becoming heavier, I decide that I have pushed my luck and turn around. As I leave, a high stack of stones catch my eye. I go uphill to investigate. I'm not sure what it is (maybe part of an old fireplace from a homestead?) but as I turn I see a large amount of black fur on the ground. Okay, I'm out of here! I'm thinking that it's not time for bear yet, but if I were a bear, this weather lately would've been too good to pass up! lol
Third downed tree passed, two more to go. I keep looking over my shoulder because the trail beckons me to come back. Well... that and I'm making sure the owner of the black fur is not behind me and hungry. I repeat to myself, "I am not a berry or a grub, I am not a berry or a grub!"
I make it back to the creek and across without falling in. The rain has become steady. I'm thankful that I turned around when I did. Second tree then last tree, I employ my method of safety for the last time and run under. Instead of braving the rest of the muddy trail, I decide to climb the hill and avoid the mud. Why didn't I think of this the first time?
Unfortunately, I know that I'm nearing the end of the trail. Rounding the curve, I see the parking area. I did it! I have beat the storm and have reached my goal, yet again today. That goal being.. just to have a little fun.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Strength Given, Strength Found

Having been sick for over two weeks, I had no plans to be on a Smokies trail anytime soon. Even so, I decide to take a late evening walk. I choose the easiest, flattest trail that comes to mind.
Still not feeling well, I slowly head down the trail, one foot in front of the other. A few short steps into it, I feel my spirits begin to lighten. The trickle of the creek, the rustle of what leaves there are, the crunch of the trail underfoot and the low hum of the wind cause a small smile to spread. Oh, how I have missed this!
I pause to study the flow of the stream. I would love to walk the few feet downhill to stand beside the it, but do not look forward to the effort it would take coming back uphill to the trail. So, I move on. My footsteps are very slow, but in taking my time, I find things that I had never noticed. Exactly the way the stream to my right shifts direction as it joins the bigger creek is but one.
As always, I find peace in the waters of my sanctuary. The water is so low right now that it must work to find it's way through the maze of boulders to flow. It shimmers in one spot as it flows in a thin layer over a low flat shelf of stone in the creek bed.
Feeling as I do, I turn around much sooner than I would have liked to. I see a tree lying on it's side. It has fallen next to the trail since I was here last. I hear a sound and recognize it as a woodpecker somewhere up the side of the mountain. All sights, sounds and sensations here work their usual magic on me. I am so glad I chose to come.
I see the trail snaking it's way toward the end. I am okay with that for I have found what I came for. The solace that my oasis offers. I gave the physical strength to make it today to spend time in my beautiful mountains. In turn, I walk away given the strength to my soul by the spirit of the Great Smoky Mountains.