Note: Just for the record, I am aware this is excessively long, but I told myself I would write this up and while I doubt a soul will read this all the way through, its a good exercise for me to practice writing. That said the other sections are linked here:
Part IV - New Beginnings
Again, however, just past the Texaco, we were transported into a world of natural beauty. After being inundated with man made drudgery it took my mind several minutes to truly believe that the river running by the side of the road may have actually not been constructed by human hands and was truly a wonder of natural beauty. Inside the park, it seemed ludicrous to think that just a mile back down the road the atrocities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge,
A bit of the over-crowding that Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (I have to use the whole name because kind of like the opposite of Cher or Madonna, only the full name can partially convey the grand scale of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee), came in handy when we hid our car amongst the several others illegally parked on the side of the park road and figured that there would be enough traffic so we wouldn’t get towed in the four days we would be gone. We changed out of our civilian clothes and into our backpacking guerilla ware. And with that, we hoisted our packs, which would be permanently glued to our backs for the greater part of the daylight hours of the next several days.
The worst part of the few trails I’ve been exposed to, is the walk until you get to the trail. This walk featured a washed out road past an “Authorized Vehicles Only” sign and a row of abandoned houses with broken windows next to the road (note: if I wanted to see that, I wouldn’t have left
Soon the wide dirt road was replaced with a narrower, but obviously well trod gravel pathway. We continued marching up this at a decent grade until the pathway got narrower and narrower and we finally felt like we were on some sort of hiking trail. The initial vegetation we saw was decidedly unremarkable. The trees were mostly still bare from the winter and the moss and fallen leaves were things I saw everyday outside my parents home in
We began to pass a few creeks along the way and the sound of natural water always seems unnatural to me. I suppose it’s a sad realization that the first reaction I have to the sound of water rushing over rock is to look around me for the ornately constructed synthetic waterfall thing that middle aged women like to have in their homes. Instead of it being nature imitating our imitation of nature, its simply nature being. And I get to partake in that experience; I just need a moment to realize that I am directly experiencing it, not observing through some other medium of perception.
When I was a kid, I bought a cassette tape of an album called Twilight Jazz because they had one of those giant display boards in the store where you could press a button and hear part of the song. I don’t know why an eight-year-old would want to buy that cassette, but I must have wanted to bad enough that my parents let me get it as some sort of present. I imagine that I found the sounds of nature irresistible and wanted to experience them in some form. I am not sure whether to regret that I experienced them in a glossy package along with dubbed in trumpet playing, or be glad that I got to experience them as a youngster and that somehow I appreciated the synthesis of natural beauty as well as created beauty in the jazz. For the sake of glass-half-full-ness I’ll take the later.
Diversions aside, we trudged along the trail until after a quick three-miles we found our campsite. Well, specifically we found two tents and some dying fires and figured we must be at the campsite, which of course, we were. Amazingly, less than two hours after departing from our car, we were dumbstruck to see not one group, but two groups of people invading our isolated nature experience. When desiring and expecting solitude (or a small duo as we were), discovering you will have to share your experience with others is frustrating. Especially when the others (note: I’ve only seen like two episodes of lost) seem like a group of 14 year-old girls.