I choose the trail carefully for the day's walk. Completely sure that I'll be alone, for solitude in nature is often necessary for me. I begin, assured of my way and set off through the woods for the short walk to the trail. This trail is more dangerous than others I travel. For now, I have more to lose. The vulnerabilities from the past put me in the way of greater harm.
After a time, I realize that the mountain's whispers of encouragement have stopped. I pause and look around, convinced I'm in the right place, but the trail has faded. Again, I hear the voice of the Smoky Mountains. The whispers have grown urgent, "Turn around.... now." For once, I ignore the whispers. Instead, I follow past trails, faint outlines, old ways.. believing the results will be the same .This land will not force me to do as I should, but gives warning signs all around -The trail was more worn than this- This isn't the direction you were headed in on the previous hike-
At last, I pay attention to what the Smokies are telling me. I know distractions have caused me to veer off the course that I set out on. I turn and carefully make my way back. I leave the area I am in. With the guidance of the mountain, I reach the trail that I entered this wilderness for. I head down the path, this time paying much more attention to my surroundings.
I've regained the respect for the dangers that are held, along with the beauty, in this wonderful place. These mountains have no intention of harm, but with a single moment of disrespect... disasters can happen.
I come upon a fork in the trail. I know what one way holds... a easy walk, safety. The other.. a harder journey, greater risks and hazards. I take my choices into consideration. The path of least resistance or the way that I know will be much more treacherous. Following my heart, I choose the harder trail. This trail is steeper, harsh, strewn with roots and boulders. The path is lined with a rock wall to my right and a drop to my left. The twists and turns on the trail take me higher and higher. The fatigue begins to set in.
I reach three small waterways I must ford. This time, the mountains whispers encourage me forward. They know that I'm taking more time, treating them with the care that had been lacking in my actions recently. I've now entered areas of extreme danger, where a misstep could result in a horrible fall. Some spots have become so dark, so dim, that even the air carries the scent of danger. I continue.. knowing that with my carefulness, the dangers are worth what awaits me. I move ahead, but not before I take time to absorb the beauty that is already evident. The delicacy of lavender flower petals, the dim of the air, the glint of waters far below... all promises of rewards.
Others have entered the heart of this land for many different reasons, but none have ever entered with the such love, such a connection. These experiences in the mountains are mine alone. The magic that exists between the Smoky Mountains and myself move me in ways that I thought were impossible.
Still, I'm aware of the hazards. Eerie sounds from the woods grab my attention. I understand what they may be and proceed with caution. I am amazed that danger and serenity coexist here. Such, are some of the greatest experiences in life. My faith lies in what awaits me.
I am sure, now, that the mistakes made at the beginning of this journey will not happen again, as long as I treat the mountains with the respect owed them. I know, to where I turn when problems become greater than I can bear. To these mountains, I run. The comfort is ever present.
The whispers heard, the caress of gentle breezes on my cheek, the care, are for me, only.
At last, I reach my destination, the end of this awesome, yet dangerous trek. I have been rewarded for my new found understanding of this beautiful land. The beauty, the solace that I sought, have been found. The love returned ~ The journey was worth it all ~