Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Things Pondered on the Trail

Mark ponders.
I skamper. 

Mark plots. I wing it.

Mark reads and interfaces with several forms of electronic gadgetry
 to plan our outings.
I smile and say, "Sure."

It usually works out in both of our favors.

View from our room that morning

The trail to Rainbow Falls was ~reportedly~ labeled, a "moderate" hike. Moderate means I can walk it with a purposeful stride and not get too winded to chat; moderate means not-too-easy; moderate means maybe-not-a-stroller-but-toting-a-child-is-possible.

Moderate, the trail to Rainbow Falls was not.

Still, we spent a delightful hour on a well-marked trail 
winding up a few moderate inclines.

Beautiful scenery.
Crisp November air.
Encouraging sound of rippling brook off to our right. 
(We were headed to the Falls, ya' know.)
(Did I mention crisp air?)

That was the first hour.
As the elevation increased and the cloud-cover decreased, the sun coaxed our exercising bodies to unzip our coats and loosen scarves. The same sun-turned-traitor quietly began loosening the snow's icy grip on branches above us. The tree limbs cackled at they repeatedly sent cascade after cascade of slushy snow bombs onto our heads and backs with sniper accuracy. 

The climb became a Quest.

step.step.step.rainbow falls under the overgrown mountain laurels.shoosh!new snow on the neck and back.
step.step.rainbow falls ahead.

That was the second hour.
Did I mention the First Hour was fun?

We caught up with and passed an occasional couple 
walking more slowly than us. 
A cheerful "Beautiful Morning!" was greeted by a grunt. 
(not sayin' which of us emitted that sound)

The other groups we encountered along our slushy way were those returning to the shelter of their vehicles waiting in the lots below. There appeared to be two categories of survivors hikers:
the grinning ones sporting aluminum walking sticks, goofy but warm head gear and the equivalent of tire chains strapped to their water-proof foot gear; and
the not-grinning groups dressed like us.

Hikers have their own lingo so we assumed our best State Park accents as we queried each set of apparently successful hikers, "So, did you make it to the Falls?"

Their response dictated from which side of the flow chart our next question came:
"We turned around at the Bridge," received our second question--
"So, how much farther is that?"

The other response, "We made it to the Falls," elicited, "So, how far past the Bridge do you think that is?" (We tried our best to sound all casual.)

 Their answers varied from encouraging us that we were about 2/3rd of the way! to "...oh, maybe 30 more minutes." VAST DIFFERENCE when you've hiked/sloshed/slid/climbed for over 2.5 hours!

I would be unfair to omit that a third group also emerge. A few backpack toting groups cheerily answered: "You don't have far to go. We spent the night at the Lodge on top. 
It was beautiful!" 
I have no words for them. 
I have the feeling if their hands had not been restrained inside those down lined mittens, a sheepish grin and a peace sign would have escaped. 
Not one word from wet-socked me.

When all was said and done, we decided the icy log sporting the misnomer "Bridge" was far enough for us that day and the rhododendrons beyond would have to ambush others with their well-timed ice droppings.

We began our descent and I quietly wondered that the gnarled tree roots that argyled the path were no longer 
toe-tripping annoyances. On our trek back along the same path, they became sure footholds and stair steps. We wondered aloud how this hike would be next Spring--flowers (from my Father, to be sure!) and buds and chattering bird and growing things replacing the sound-muffling whiteness and occasional dry-leaf rustle from the tree tops.

We stopped for more photos of 
nature teasing Winter while still dancing with Fall.

It really was a lovely day of adventure with Mark, John, and Loni.

Some of my path ponderings:

1. Follow a trust-worthy guide. (Mark has earned that label!)
2. If you walk too quickly, you'll always be looking down, worried about your next step. Slow down.
3. No matter how easy or strenuous the terrain, you have to take short breaks--just stop--in order to take in the wonder around you.
4. The thing you thought was an unnecessary hindrance might actually be the thing that helps you along the way.
5.  Listen to those who have experienced the trail you're on.
6. Take joy in the journey. The next time you wander through a trail, it might all be changed. You only get one chance at this path today.

Hmmm. Analogies might truly be my one weakness.

Gatlinburg, TN 
October 27-November 3. 2012


  1. Yet another reminder that I miss you... and your blog posts too of course. ;) So glad you and Mark were able to get away together.

  2. :) I was just thinking of the hike we took the kids on up to Table Rock. I thought some of these same things. Funny how the Father has to take us on a hike to remind us of some of the small, and not so small, stuff!