Just about every Christmas since my children were born has been spent with my parents, a few times at their home in Virginia but mostly at our home in Charlotte. This year would be different because both of my parents have passed away, my mother in January 2007 and my father in July 2008. All our kids came home to Charlotte, Megan from Baltimore and Brett from school at Appalachian State and Laura from Virginia Tech, and my husband and I planned a few surprises and we all took good care of each other as we sailed through uncharted waters.
When we saw what the schedule of arrivals and departures and work for the week was shaping up to be, there was a small window of opportunity to go to the Smokies. My husband and son had to work, so the girls and I slipped away on Dec 22. Outfitted with warm clothes and a promise to “fake enthusiasm” we drove to the Tennessee side of the Park. The girls were interested to see the places that I had been talking and writing about and I was extremely excited to show them my world in the Smokies. I probably didn’t make much sense as I gushed about trailheads and campgrounds as we drove towards Gatlinburg. The only thing that would have been better is if the guys had been with us as well.
We stopped quickly at the Sugarlands VC to check the temperatures (32 degrees, yay!) and then drove to the Metcalf Bottoms parking area to hike the Curry Mountain Trail. This is a 3.3-mile trail up to Meigs Mountain (or Meg’s Mountain, as we decided to call it).
See how excited they were? They actually were great hikers, with youth on their side, and it was a beautiful day (the weather forecast is what helped us decide to do the trip). We crossed creeks and hopped over fallen trees. The frozen concoction on the end of this log looked particularly gross.
At the intersection with Meigs Mountain Trail we turned right and walked the short distance to the Meigs cemetery. I could find very little informa- tion in the “brown book” about this cemetery, but it is maintained nicely. There are only a couple of graves with engraved markers and all the others have simple rough headstones and footstones.
As always, there were many tiny graves.
After a short break (it was still cold!) we began our walk back down the mountain. Hiking both ways on a trail may seem boring, but often a trail is worth a second look going in the opposite direction. Are you sure this tree was laying across the trail before? Do you see the way that cloud is hovering over that peak? The big highlight of our return trip was that Megan spotted a bear below the trail! Now that the leaves are gone we can see bears from a safe distance so it’s fun and not scary. And we would have missed it completely without Megan’s eyes.The girls begged for more hiking but I insisted that we go to my favorite hotel in Gatlinburg
and get cleaned up and get something good for dinner. We dined at Ogle’s Brick Oven and then collapsed at our room. We laughed at ourselves as Laura tried to lead us in stretching exercises and watched Hannah Montana until we couldn’t stand it anymore. The lights went out early to rest up for another day of hiking tomorrow. Little did we know what excitement awaited us!