As we landed Wednesday I had a flood of memories come back to me that included my dad walking us through the mountains in tube socks, old photos from Mount Mitchell, my son and I hiking near Clingman’s Dome and my wife and I enjoying coffee at Double D’s.
The Great Smoky Mountains were one of the first places I remember falling in love with outdoors, and a wealth of memories have grown since 1977.
This weekend I hit the Appalachian Trail with five incredible friends. A group of men I would follow into any battle. This was the annual May Club Die Hard trip – our adventure that adds a little more, well, adventure.
I had not covered so much of the AT on the Tennessee, North Carolina border, but it was an incredible part of the trail. Georgia has its piney woods, Maine it’s think ferns, but this was surreal. It was as if we were walking in a rain forest built for a movie set: thick canopies, massive roots, and sharp contrasts between brown and green.
But even more enjoyable were friends to share it with.
"Discourse, the sweeter banquet of the mind." Book 15 Homer, The Odyssey
Our night in shelter on the trail had the perfect blend of beauty and back woods funk.
I could not image the trip but with Mark, Walter, Wes, Terry and John. I did wish Brian had been able to make the trip, but he stayed back to deal with the difficulties this life deals us.
What a gift – friends.
I am not sure why I have been gifted with such great experiences with such great people – but I am grateful to the Giver of all good things.
Two days on the AT, one day in the Pisgah National Forest, and one last day running up to the highest point east of the Mississippi.
If you have the chance, pack your bags, grab a friend and hit the trail.