Cataract Falls – Smoky Mountains

Flea Market Guy (FMG) and I went on a Sunday morning adventure yesterday. I had mentioned on Saturday that I wanted to go on a hike. He had mentioned that he wanted to just chill out before he had to go to work at 4. I thought maybe I’d just go hike alone at the nature center, but nothing had been set in stone. We like to spend a little time together before he goes to work, so I thought if I was going to go hike, it would be around 3 or so.

He went to an AA meeting early Sunday. He goes every day. We are on day 38 of sobriety (happy dance), but I’m still trying my best not to stress him out because if you know anything about alcoholics, then you know they don’t need much of a reason to drink. Or maybe I should say, everything can turn into a reason to drink. But he’s been doing great and I’ve been trying very hard to be positive and supportive. Luckily, I’m really good at both. And he’s really good at being happy, so it’s seemed really easy from where I am sitting.

I know it hasn’t been easy on his end, but he’s taking it in stride and I am enjoying every moment of it.

So when he got home from his meeting yesterday, I was laying in bed half reading a book and half playing ToonBlast on my phone. We all have our addictions, but enough about mine. FMG got home and said that we were going to a waterfall. It took me all of 30 seconds to change my clothes and put my hiking shoes on and we were out the door before he could finish his cigarette. We decided to go to Cataract falls in the Smoky Mountains.

FMG said it was supposed to be a 1 mile hike to the falls and then it would be a mile back down. Piece of cake. I was ready to go. It took us about an hour to get there and the one mile hike was actually only .1 mile. We basically got out of his truck and walked 100 steps and were at the falls.

 

 

After hanging out at the falls that were barely falls at all (probably because we have been in a drought), we decided to walk part of the trail that was the Cove Mountain and Laurel Falls trail. It was much further…

 

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We didn’t have time for an 8 mile hike or an 11 mile hike, because FMG had to work in a few hours, but we did have time to take a small hike up about a mile before we headed back down and I’m really glad we did.

If you are from Tennessee then you know all about the fire in the Smokies. If you live in the US, then maybe you recall seeing it on the news. If you are in another country, you may not have any idea what I’m talking about so I’ll give you the short version: in November 2016 a massive fire started in the mountains and it burned acres upon acres of woods, people lost their homes and there were some people who lost their lives. It was a tragic time for East Tennessee. And as tragedies usually go, once the smoke clears or the rain stops or the water recesses,  people tend to forget about what happened. I’m guilty of it too. But today was a good reminder of the destruction.

As FMG and I were walking on the trail, it was nice and cool and green.

 

We walked up the mountain and it was almost like a clearing. There was no shade and lots of the greenery was gone. And it was HOT! The temperature had to have increased by about 20 degrees. As we looked around, we could see that part of this mountain had been on fire. The green that was there was new growth. We could see parts of trees that were still covered with soot. And even though it had been 3 years, you could rub your hand along the trunk and have ash and soot on your palm. There was a large old tree that was still standing but it was mostly black from flames, but it was still alive and you could tell he fought to be there. He didn’t have leaves anymore but he was standing tall and strong. And there was another tall lanky tree that was black all the way up to the top and right next to it was a tree just as tall that hadn’t been touched at all. The fire looked like it had jumped and was selective about it’s victims.

 

 

 

The forest is fighting to regrow. We could see across the valley the tops of trees that had been burned but were still standing and below them, we could see the lush forest that was left unscathed.

Life is like that sometimes. We watch others or ourselves get trampled on over and over while others seem to be skipped over and left unscathed. But lots of times, it’s the ones that have been burnt and refused to fall that are the really successful ones. I want to be that old burned tree standing in the middle of the forest refusing to fall.

It wasn’t long before we were back in lush forest again and in the shade. We took that as our cue to head back down the mountain to the truck. We talked about destruction and the wonders of nature to build itself back up after tragedy. We should strive to be more like nature.

So if you feel like your life is getting the best of you, just remember, they may burn you down, but you are an oak and not even a forest fire can bring you down.

 

 

 

 

 

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