What a wonderful few days in the Smoky Mountains with my Meg-a-roo! We really needed this time to escape real life and worries and cell phone signal. Though, we did drive to find signal after 24 hours so our moms wouldn't start planning our funerals AND (mostly) so we could get burgers from Five Guys instead of eating Clif bars for dinner (again). It was as if those delectable Angus beef patties came straight from a bibbity-bobbity-boo-ing fairy godmother. DEEEEEEELICIOUS.
Meg and I happened upon a small lake with a beach made up entirely of flat rocks. They were just begging to be skipped! Do you remember the last time you skipped rocks? It is such a great stress reliever. Brookstone needs to sell mini desk ponds instead of executive sandboxes. I'll be sure to pitch that to them.
Tent camping was fun and rustic and just what the doctor ordered. It almost felt like we were back at SpringHill church camp as we tried to remember the words to campfire songs (Let me see your funky chicken, WHAT'S THAT YOU SAY?) and utilized the buddy system on bathroom trips. Except there wasn't a Chaco-clad camp counselor there to make our fire and escort us to the dining hall and remind us what poison ivy looks like, all of which would have been helpful.
And here's where I leave my pride (as if I had any in the first place).
We went through an ENTIRE BOX (12) of those daggum little half-sphere cedar chip fire starters in attempt to make two separate fires, neither of which became an actual fire. I mean, since when does wood not like fire?! We built all kinds of structures and tried all kinds of strategies and nearly lost our minds, then eventually gave up and made lukewarm s'mores out of jumbo marshmallows that we lightly toasted over the tiny, short-lived fire starter flame.
Hashtag outdoorsy. Hashtag experts. Hashtag just kidding.
We walked over to the camp store to buy some wood, and the guy who took our money asked, "Hardwood?" We nodded. (Because what other kind of wood is there?!) We picked out the prettiest bundle we could find, skipped out of the shed, and the guy looked over and said with a smirk, "That's kindling. It's a dollar cheaper than hardwood. You can take it, but it burns faster."
So, back we went for the other wood that we apparently bought (which was much uglier, bee-tee-dubs), then the guy exchanged looks with another onlooker, and muttered something like, "Dontcha just love city folk," in his Tennessee accent. Then he had the audacity to ask if we needed help carrying it back to our site.
"I'm just fine, thank you!" I replied, sounding much nicer than I wanted to, hoisting the bundle up to my chin, and picking up my pace. I ain't no city girl! Do I live in the city? Yes. But am I from the country? Yes siree, Bob! Can I carry my own firewood? YES, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
But do I know anything about making fires? No. No, I do not.
Well good morning to you, too, Kentucky!!! ^^^ We kicked off our adventure by setting up camp in the Daniel Boone National Forest. While it wasn't the most fantastic experience, our morning drive out of the forest really made up for it.
Also, this happened. ^^^ And I don't regret one sip of it.
My style of roughing it includes Starbucks.
We were too early to witness full-fledged fall foliage.
But as it turns out, the Smoky Mountains are beautiful even when the leaves are mostly green!
In our five mile round-trip hike to Abrams Falls, we saw lots of bear prints on the path, and the waterfall was beautiful, but the most impressive part of it all was the people - people almost three times our age! As we passed them, I kept saying, in between pants, "Did you SEE that couple?! They deserve medals for this!" And they do. I so admire people older than me who fearlessly take on new adventures.
Note to future, saggy Maggie: keep doing big things. Just keep doing.
I know, jumping pictures are so 2009, and we're out of focus, but I just.don't.care.
Our last morning, we were greeted by THIS sight. ^^^
So I whipped the car to the side of the road, and we just took it in.
Our Creator is something else, isn't He?!
The last (and best, and most excruciating) hike was the Chimney Tops Trail.
Straight. Up. The. Mountain.
It was a real I'm-out-of-shape slap in the face at 7:45 a.m. as I struggled to keep up with my cross country coach best friend. I just kept pretending I was Snow White. Because there are no bears in that movie, the forest seemed enchanted, and I'm really pale, so it works.
Lemme tell you about my best friend. ^^^ I've known her since second grade. She doesn't have a filter with me, and I don't have a filter with her. And that kind of authentic friendship is an incredible gift. But my favorite thing about Megan is her heart for the Lord. No one - no pastor, no professor, no person - has challenged me in my walk with Christ like she has. Megan's faith is tangible in the way she lives her life. And she's CRAZY adventurous - the kind of adventurous that bounds up mountains and hungers to travel the world and chooses dare instead of truth. On the drive down to Tennessee, we discussed all things past, present, and future. And she said something that really struck me.
"I just want to change the world."
And she will. She helped me pass AP Calculus with a B+ - she's already moved mountains, for goodness sake!
P.S. She's single, guys!
(I'm not sure any dudes read my blog, so if you ladies know any eligible bachelors...)
The rock scramble at the end of the hike was no joke. As we climbed, and again as we sat atop the mountain, I kept thinking of mountain metaphors. No matter how cliché, they all work. They're all true.
Everyone experiences disappointments and challenges and failures and heartaches. We climb to the top. We stumble along the path. We try. We fall. Then, we try again. All the while, we're never alone. People have gone before us, people will go after us, and people will climb alongside to keep us going. But no matter the difficulty of our mountains, we rarely look back and say, "I wish I never climbed it."