Sunday, December 30, 2018

Rocky Top

On December 18,2018 I did my longest hike to date, accompanied by my daughter Marissa. 20 miles with 4,587 feet of elevation gain. We started near sunrise at 7:30am and headed up the Lead Cove Trail, which intersected with Bote Mountain. We continued upward to the Appalachian Trail at Spence Field and took a break at the same spot where we experienced the solar eclipse of August 2017.

The section from Spence Field to Rocky Top is a tough hike. It starts up, and then goes back down, then up again. It’s only about a mile, but I found it to be the toughest part of the day. The scenery was fantastic from the top, so it was worth the effort.

We continued on to Thunderhead Mountain before turning around and heading along the AT. The section from Thunderhead to Russell Field shelter is a pleasant stroll, although there is the uphill section after Rocky Top.

 A few patches of leftover snow covered shaded grassy areas, but nothing was on the trail form the previous week's 18" snowfall. 

We hiked a short distance past the Russell Field Trail intersection, but turned back since this was within a day or two of the shortest day of the year. The afternoon was fading and we had a ways yet to go.

We made it to the car after 7pm at the Lead Cove trailhead, so it was dark at this point. A long day but full of memorable scenery and time well spent with my daughter. Making memories in the Smokies-

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Mosaic of Life

On the first morning of my annual pilgrimage into the Smoky Mountains for a mental reset and some great hiking, I was greeted with the scene below.

A gentle breeze took away any coverings of an inspiring morning.  Morning’s light, full of hope and new beginnings, faded in and out from behind a thin sheer of clouds off to my right, above a high ridge line. After a while the sun lit up the side of my face and felt like a warm cloth. The trees were bare, leaving a mosaic of the winding road below, and the hills beyond.
The road below; it was there before me and will likely be there long after I am gone. Beauty is carved out through time, following natural terrain. Nature’s flow. A beautiful life should follow that pattern with the natural mountains and valleys (our belief systems) carving out a boundary for when we step out too far. But not too rigid. It’s okay to have the hairpin turns to slow us down from imminent disaster, and we can go around a mountain when it serves no purpose to climb it.
The view can be spectacular along this twisted journey, but we can’t see too far ahead with the upcoming turn. Be spontaneous, enjoy your road trip, stop along the way, and soak in a good dose of life.