Saturday, June 9, 2012

Great Smoky Mountains

My buddy, Scott, from Portland, happened to be in Knoxville, Tennessee.  We made plans to meet up in Great Smoky Mountains NP...what a  great place to catch up.

It's been fun exploring this side of the Mississippi, and the Smokys were no disappointment.  The plan was to camp in Cade's Cove and hike the next day.  I remember looking at a satellite view of the area and was a bit confused.  The campsite looked covered by trees, but there was a weird clearing next to it that I assumed was a mined area.  Come to find out, people in the 1800s clear cut the valley in between the Smokys and made it into a community of farms.  We spent the whole day on this loop learning about the culture of the time and hiking to a waterfall.

First stop was the oldest cabin in the area, and then the Primitive Baptist Church.  Now, I was confused on the adjective there.  Was it primitive because it was in the middle of nowhere or because it consisted of basic values?  Turns out, Primitives believe that everyone is predestined to go to heaven or hell, so do what you want because you can't change your RSVP to the party!

There were 3 different churches in the small agricultural community and each had a very antique cemetery.  One man died in the Revolutionary War, another murdered by North Carolina Rebels.  What do you want your headstone to say? 

We stopped in the middle of the loop to hike to Abram's Falls.  Man, did we see Nature!!  Upon our 5 mile journey, we encountered a black snake, a millipede, river otters, tadpoles, wild turkey and white tailed deer.  We also saw the wilds of a different kind, such as running shoes left to the side of the trail with no one in site and a lone shirt hung in the branches (to dry?).  Well, we are in the South....

We made friends with Ranger Tom, who informed us of the stupid questions people ask, such as "When do you release the animals?" And, "Where's the petting zoo where we can pet the animals?"  Tom often pointed out to tourists embarking on the 5 mile hike that they may want to change out of their flimsy Old Navy flip flops because he had carried out a girl who broke her ankle not too long ago.  "Oh not to worry" they say, "we'll be fine."  Of course Ranger Tom doesn't know what he's talking about.

Scott and I had some nice fire talks and comtemplated the fact that when the park was being created, it kicked out all those people who had farmed the land for so long.  Most received compensation, but one man refused to go.  The court system took care of him eventually, and now the NP gives heritage lectures about the place.  A little ironic if you ask me.  And to perfectly juxtapose the hard work those farmers endured, Scott and I stared in awe as our neighbors, who were perfectly capable of walking, took turns using the motorized scooter to get to the bathroom while yelling at the kids to clean up the site.  Just some things that make you go hmmmmm....

We did really luck out on the weather: it was perfect the 2 days we were there and then started raining overnight.  We packed up quick in the morning and headed back to Knoxville, and I back to Kentucky. 

So thanks Uncle Scotty for the visit!!!  

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