Seduced by the beauty, moved by the sublime, forever altered by the ethereal world she inhabits, enchanted by nature's spell.
She dreamt of nature, of foreign lands. Of moonlit nights on desert sands. Once upon a time, she was a different person who lived a very different life. There was never a thought given to spending time in nature. One step onto a mountain pathway and her life was forever changed, but nothing prepared her for the first trek into the mountains alone.
When on a trail, there was a presence outside of herself that she couldn't explain. A spirit, a hush, but vibrant in it's silence. When she was there, she became one with this spirit, the spirit of nature.. Alone, yet not alone. Listening to the whispers of the Smokies.
On a trail alone, far from civilization, this merging with nature began to heal her soul. In this world, the pain and disappointment from hardships she faced ceased. Pain became innocence. Disappointment became wisdom. With each return to nature, she brought with her an abundance of emotion, fear, joy, pain, the desire for peace and at times adventure. She offered these to nature. She leaves with gifts of wisdom, peace, acceptance and strength. The calm found in the reserves of nature made her whole, again.
Yet, there was another gift. Seldom, does she set out with the conquering of nature in mind. Every trail holds a different "personality" to her. Each trail is chosen to suit her need. She goes where her spirit leads. She hikes until the need is met or her body tells her, "Far enough today." At this point, the adventurous soul awakened by the mountain trails speaks. "Just one more curve in the trail." Curve after curve, she is pulled forward. She walks slowly, soaking in this peace. Often the sinking sun is her sign that it is time to go.
This sense of wonder and wanting to experience "another curve" came home with her. In the walk of life, she carries now this insatiable desire to experience "one more curve". It consumes her. She dreams of experiencing all of nature's offerings. She has heard nature's whisper, "There is more". This freedom felt on the trail, this sense of wonder, this amazement at tiny miracles such as a crimson fall leaf lying mid-trail or magnificent, sweeping vistas lying before and below her as she stands on a mountaintop. Thoughts of canyons, deserts, valleys, rugged mountain peaks scraping the skies fill her. This freedom she feels on the trail, this strength and bravery she has earned fuels this desire. She began to dream. "What else is out there to fill my heart joy? To touch my spirit?"
Still there was one more gift. Unbeknownst to her, with each return to the trail a foundation was forming. Through many trials in life, she came for solitude and peace she knew she would find. When filled with pain, doubt or fear she sought solace in nature. With each step on a Smokies trail, she explored the emotion and choices she would have to make. The calm of nature quieted her turmoil and made decisions clear. In this, she learned self-reliance. Belief in her choices gave strength to defy expectations and gave courage to bring dreams to life. Even a time she had gone into the mountains underprepared and feared she may not make it off of the mountain had taught lessons. This lesson was that there was always a way if your desire was great enough.
Today, she sought solitude on a trail to measure her dreams with nature's guidance, again. Deeper and deeper into the mountains she moved. Higher and higher, she climbed. There was no rush. At times, she knelt in the trail for a closer look at the red autumn leaves and trailside flowers in shades of periwinkle and violet. She lost count of the times she paused to take in the rays of the setting sun's rays falling between tree limbs and across the trail. She turned to look up the mountainside at the dark green dells. Then, turned to look down into the forest below.
Eventually she stopped to rest. She had gone for enough for the day. As she stood, sweat trickling down backs hollow, she looked around for a place to rest. She could find no suitable rock or fallen tree for a seat. With a smile, she chose the trail. She took a seat, The feel of the earth against her skin, the leaves brushing her legs, her connection with nature. As she listened to the sounds of the whisper wind, she began to write. She wrote of dreams turning to hopes and of hopes turning to plans. She wrote of strength and weakness, disappointment and innocence, disillusion and wonder. She wrote of pain and healing. Her heart filled with gratitude at the gifts that land had given her.
Finally when her needs were met, her heart filled and adventurous spirit sated, she knew it was time to go. The sun was low, touching only the treetops. Her timing would be just right to leave the trail at dusk. Rising, she gently brushed the leaves from her clothes and dusted her skin. Looking around one last time, she set off down the mountain thankful for the peace found today, her spirit renewed and heart wide open for the new adventures to come.
- The Smokies Whisperer
“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
― John Muir
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