Bradley and I have visited the magical smokey mountains once a year since we met. After seeing the peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park and the green rolling steamy hills in The Ring of Kerry in Ireland, the smokies seemed a little anticlimactic at first glance. But within them lies their mystery. To really experience Appalachia one must hike into the Appalachian Trail enveloping yourself in the Bee Balm, the Bleeding Heart, the Azalea and the other sweet scented wildflowers that line the trails. After hiking a mile or two you might catch a glimpse through the thick trees of the surrounding valleys and wide mountains and feel totally alone, totally away from the buzzing cars and troupes of motorcycles that minutes before had swarmed around you. Then almost out of nowhere, an innocent black bear trudges across your path giving you a half smile as you crap your pants. The smokey mountains are calm and exciting, peaceful and thrilling. But only when you slop into the mud and brave the slick rocks of a 10 mile hike will you really ever know them.
I can't wait to go back.