Friday, April 10, 2009

To All My Hiking Partners

Well, it has been a very long/short year hiking the Smokies and I simply could not have done it without the help of my hiking friends. Thanks to you all, my goal is met, every trail except one is done, the Old Sugarlands Trail, and those steps will be taken tomorrow, Saturday, April 11.

Here is the speech I would make if you were all there that day:

We have seen sunrises and sunsets, waterfalls, lots of animal poop, bees and bears, deer and elk, rain, fog and lots of sunshine, spring and summer's flowers and winter's icicles and frosty breath, sweltering days and hot nights with no showers. We have slept in campsites, cabins, shelters and hotel rooms (and one abandoned house). We have crossed dry creek beds and raging rivers (except one). We have lost cameras and hiking poles and occasionally our minds.

We have eaten energy bars, ramen noodles and pizza, drunk a lot of water and the occasional flavored libation that goes along with backpacking. We have hiked loops and driven shuttles, made plans and changed them. We have been energetic in the morning and worn out at the end of the day.

Each and every hike has been special to me. Your encouragement, good thoughts, flexibility, advice and footsteps alongside me have supported me through the miles and made this journey a highlight of my life. My wish for you is to experience the joy that you have helped make possible for me. "Thank you" seems inadequate, but I do thank you very sincerely.  

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. ~Edward Abbey (1927-1989)

15 comments:

still waters said...

It has been a real pleasure to keep up with you, here in this blog, and out there on the trail. This journey you've been on.....one of death and life, resonates deeper within me than many things I come across in everyday life. Kudos to you for setting out on this journey, with all the reasons and goals you had in mind, and then for doing everything necessary to carry it all the way to the end. No small accomplishment; congrats to a special lady!

Smokies Hiker said...

Though it may have been overcast and we felt a few drops, today was a golden day and I was so glad to be part of it.

It’s funny when you started this adventure that you looked at today as an end and a door closing but now instead today you see that you have just opened the door wider and rather than your hunger being quenched it has just been intensified.

Though I so deeply treasure the solitude and amazing life altering tranquility and awaking of hiking alone and really experiencing the trails and myself as deeply as possible, the people I have met upon my journeys in the park has been a real incredible bonus.

Just a few days ago I was taught how to indentify edible mushrooms and on the way back to the car today I found enough to make a meal tonight. As long as you are willing to look, listen and learn – and yes sweat or freeze a little sometimes - the adventure and rewards never stop in here. One of the best rewards of my time in the park was being able to be part of your adventure.

You will never be the same now, and that makes the darn whole world just a little bit better.

So when’s our next hike?

Chris

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