“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” John Muir
As a young teen growing up in Pennsylvania I would take long walks through the woods near our house. There was something about being among the trees, listening to the birds and watching the sunlight cascade down through the leaves. I always felt at peace. Those days of being in nature were calling to me. I needed to leave the familiar palm trees behind in search of maple, birch, and hickory.
I’m not one who enjoys tent camping. Cabins with a jacuzzi are more my idea of roughing it. It had been over ten years since we visited Gatlinburg. I knew it was time to return.
We boarded a plane for Tennessee and after a short hour and twenty-minute flight I felt as if I stepped into another world. Mountains! Glorious, green, majestic mountains with white mist decorating the treetops.
Pumpkins, scarecrows, and bundles of hay stood outside shops and homes announcing my favorite season–Fall! On the windy road to our cabin, I made Eric pull over, no, not because he was driving as if he was on a racetrack, but because I spotted some deer in the forest next to us. To my amazement, a beautiful doe peered at me long enough so I could snap a few pictures.
Our cabin was perched high on a mountain with a fabulous view. Each morning I sat outside on the porch swing, sipping my coffee, and listening to the birds sing. Heaven.
The first day, we hiked to Charlie’s Bunion. I wasn’t too worried about the 8.1 mile hike. Eight miles sounded easy, however, what I didn’t think about because I’ve never been hiking, was the steep incline over 4 miles. It was more challenging than I imagined but definitely worth the view at the top! We sat on a giant boulder at the highest point and ate our lunch overlooking the valley and the Great Smoky Mountains. Breathtaking.
On the way down we made a wrong turn and added an extra mile to our trip but still made it back to our car before dark. Our plans to get cleaned up and go out on the town turned into finding a restaurant where we could take our stinky selves and sit outside for a bite to eat. We knew once we reached the cabin and sat down…there would be no getting up to go dancing. We were right. Exhaustion.
Our next adventure was on the Middle Prong Trail. A kind couple we met at Charlie’s Bunion told us about it. This trail was easy and beautiful. It’s known as the best waterfall hike in the Smokies. It felt like a long stroll through the woods. We hiked a total of 8.3 miles over 5 hours. I stopped to take lots of pictures and we enjoyed our lunch while listening to the rush of water over the falls. Peaceful.
My legs and feet may ache but my heart is filled with peace. “Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” George Eliot
I’m already making plans for next year’s hiking adventure.
Oh, and if you go to Gatlinburg grab a bite at Three Jimmy’s. Ask for Victoria. She’ll make you feel like family.