Having been sick for over two weeks, I had no plans to be on a Smokies trail anytime soon. Even so, I decide to take a late evening walk. I choose the easiest, flattest trail that comes to mind.
Still not feeling well, I slowly head down the trail, one foot in front of the other. A few short steps into it, I feel my spirits begin to lighten. The trickle of the creek, the rustle of what leaves there are, the crunch of the trail underfoot and the low hum of the wind cause a small smile to spread. Oh, how I have missed this!
I pause to study the flow of the stream. I would love to walk the few feet downhill to stand beside the it, but do not look forward to the effort it would take coming back uphill to the trail. So, I move on. My footsteps are very slow, but in taking my time, I find things that I had never noticed. Exactly the way the stream to my right shifts direction as it joins the bigger creek is but one.
As always, I find peace in the waters of my sanctuary. The water is so low right now that it must work to find it's way through the maze of boulders to flow. It shimmers in one spot as it flows in a thin layer over a low flat shelf of stone in the creek bed.
Feeling as I do, I turn around much sooner than I would have liked to. I see a tree lying on it's side. It has fallen next to the trail since I was here last. I hear a sound and recognize it as a woodpecker somewhere up the side of the mountain. All sights, sounds and sensations here work their usual magic on me. I am so glad I chose to come.
I see the trail snaking it's way toward the end. I am okay with that for I have found what I came for. The solace that my oasis offers. I gave the physical strength to make it today to spend time in my beautiful mountains. In turn, I walk away given the strength to my soul by the spirit of the Great Smoky Mountains.