Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Walk to Remember

On Sunday afternoon, Vol Fan went off with the guys to do guy stuff. You know - drink beer, shoot guns, cuss, belch, etc. This didn't exactly fit my idea of a good time. So I decided to head to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a hike. After a little research, I settled on doing the Alum Cave Bluffs hike.

After fighting the traffic (Thankfully for me, a huge percentage of visitors to the park never set foot on a trail, preferring to snap photos from the air-conditioned comfort of their car!), I arrived at the trail head at about 1pm. It is a very scenic trail, following a mountain stream for a long way. And made all the more enjoyable because the rhododendrons were in bloom.

As I walked along, I was lost in thought - forming beautiful sentences for a blog post. I had planned to post this beautiful essay on how hiking made the stresses of this world just melt away. Walking along listening to the crunch of my boots, the gurgling of the stream, the whisper of the wind through the century-old hemlock trees....

Crunch, crunch and the cares just melt away.....

[sniff] The occasional call of a distant bird......

[sniff, sniff] The hum of cicadas.....

[sniff] What is that god-awful smell?.....

[sniff] Crunch, crunch......

[sniff] Then the light bulb turns on!


So I start making noise - yelling, clapping my hands, etc. Then there was a rustling in the underbrush to my left. I froze. Getting mauled by a bear is not on my top 10 list of great ways to die. But I could hear the movement getting farther and farther away. So, relieved, I continued on my hike, thinking that I must be crazy. It was probably just a squirrel or something.

As I round the next bend, there in the middle of the trail is a fresh paw print. Not a little paw, either.

So I quickly decided that maybe I had hiked alone far enough.

Maybe I didn't need to see the bluffs.

Maybe my stresses had melted away enough.

Maybe I should take up trail running. Like now, back to my car.

Maybe those car-bound tourists aren't so crazy after all!!


Snooty Primadona said...

Oh Crap! A bear huh? Jeezuz, I would have lost it, but running sounds like it was a stellar idea. Screw nature. I would have set a record getting out of there.

However, I love your pictures and I want to someday see the Great Smokey Mountains. If I live long enough.

Big Hair Envy said...

The pictures are beautiful! The bear, on the other hand, scares the crap out of me!!!

On a camping trip a couple of years ago, we were awakened in the night to something BIG foraging around our campsite. I was too afraid to look outside, and was confident it was a bear. Turns out it was some huge Mastiff (sp?) dog that had broken its chain and was terrorizing the campground!!!


Dirtbikes and Divas said...

Ok, 2 things not to do on our next trip to Pigeon Forge

1. Hamster Balls..(Although I showed pictures and I swear all 3 boys lost consciousness for a couple of seconds)

2. Leave my big ass (that wouldn't fit through the hamster ball therefore making that #1 on the list) in the car on the ride through the Smoky Mountain National Park.

I have to tell you that at first I thought this was going to be a super funny post about how you thought it was a bear but then it was a skunk and I was just giddy at the prospects but between bears and drinking beer, shooting guns cussing and belching....well, let's just say I'd have to think long and hard!

sista #2 said...

Holy shit a bear??? Oh no...I dont know if I would have been able to run I would be so scared.


Monkey Toe Momma said...

Holy Scheisse! Are you serious? I didn't know that bears had a smell. I mean, I'm sure they smell, but I didn't know that it was distinctive enough to know BEAR when you smell it. What does it smell like. See, if had been me, I would have continued walking not knowing what that funny smell was. I'm glad to know that you know how to take care of yourself! At least you got some great shots in! Just BEAUTIFUL!

thatcoolbroad said...

I would've been in the same situation at MTM....I had no idea that bears smell. I've heard that camels smell...but I guess they probably don't live in the Great Smoky Mountains. Gorgeous pics!


Lori said...

Snooty - Let's just say that I made it out of the woods a whole lot faster than I made it in. The mountains are nice but be prepared for traffic - it is a very touristy area!

Big Hair - HA - I love camping stories!

D and D - I am sure your kids would love zorbing!! Next time I going to have to think long and hard too!

#2 - Yeah, that was my first reaction. I was absolutely frozen in panic!

MTM - Bears have a very distinct smell, kinda like a really stinky dog crossed with, well I'm not sure what it's crossed with. But once you smell it, you know!!

I'm just glad I was hiking in black bear country instead of grizzly country. Black bears will run if you make noise, etc. Grizzlies, well, you are supposed to play dead and try to protect your head and neck.

I made very classic mistakes - I was hiking quietly, next to a stream, and I was downwind. I'm just glad it wasn't a Momma and her babies!!

Lori said...

TCB - Yeah, I've heard they spit, too!! But I would like to ride one some day!

Pleasing Procrasinator said...

I don't know if I even remember how to run but by God I would have made record time getting out of there and would have been more stressed than before I went.
The pictures are lovely tho.

Desert Survivor said...

Sounds like a hike you won't forget anytime soon! You are so lucky to see a bear (and be able to tel labout it)

Lori said...

PP - Believe me, I did make record time!!

Desert - Yea, bears!!