Mountain Trails

Mountain trails, swinging bridges, log bridge, waterfalls, creeks, rock climbing, and crawdads are plesannt memories of the hiking world of my younger days. I can remember hiking with my husband and children when the kids were younger (and so were we). Of course, picnics were also a part of the festivities. We usually had a picnic lunch in the Chimneys or Cades Cove, and found a picnic table on the way back, near Pigeon Forge, to finish off the food for dinner. Sometimes the extended family would gather in one of these two places for picnics, which included something being grilled on the wood or charcoal grills, which were wonderfully placed throughout the picnic area. No matter how many participants, it was always fun and memorable. The creeks always provided a mishap or two and often left at least one of us completely soaked. Swim suits often saved the day, but sometimes we would simply ride home wet, wrapped in a blanket or towel. Wet or dry, at the end of the day, we were happy and tired.

On one particular excursion, my husband, fourteen year old daughter, ten year old son, his friend, and my husband’s aunt went for a mountain hike. My aunt liked to hike and knew the mountains well, so well she suggested a trail neither my husband or I had hiked or knew anything about. It proved to be quite a challenging trail. It was several miles and very steep in places, but very doable, or so we thought. Before reaching our summit, my aunt became overheated and somewhat dizzy. It was decided we should abandon the hike and return another day, for the pleasures that awaited us, up ahead. The boys were having nothing short of completing our mission, and to my later dismay, it was decided the four of us would continue to the top, while my husband waited with our “resting” aunt, for us to return from the short, final, leg of out hike.

The boys grew more excited by the moment and by the time we reached the top, they were frenzied. When I saw the prize, I knew I was in serious trouble, for before my eyes sprawled a huge rock that overhung a very distant world below, and gleefully running toward the dangerous end of that dreadful rock were two ten year old boys, exerting their male prowess. It was any mother’s worse nightmare and, suddenly, I was in it! Boy, did I wish my husband was there to corral the rambunctious boys. I heard myself screaming at the top of my lungs STOP! DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER! What I heard back was “it’s OK, we won’t fall off, we’ll be careful.” What I saw was continued motion. Panic set in and I roared like a lion, “STOP NOW, AND LOOK AT ME!” The roar finally got their attention and they turned to glare at the crazy woman behind them. And then, I heard my daughter, from behind me, scream something that sounded like an alien language. I turned to find her hugging the last tree on the ledge, scared to make another move in any direction. She had just found the rock ledge and was anything but happy. Now, I stood in the middle of boys that really wanted to experience the edge and a daughter that was terrified of the edge.

Deciding my daughter was going nowhere, my decision was made. I quickly approached the boys and moved them back from the edge, mumbling under their breaths something about dad letting them get nearer the edge. We moved together to where my daughter was tightly clutching the tree. Nothing I said would convince her to let go of the tree. She wanted her dad to come rescue her… and believe me, I wanted that too. I finally enlisted the help of the “brave” boys, by letting her substitute them for the tree, after I pried her hands away. We walked away from the ledge in a tight little pack, down the trail to my waiting husband, who took one look and said, “it didn’t go well, did it?” All I could say was, “ya think?” and was just happy to be off the rock ledge!

Source: K. P. Guessen