“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” (John Muir)
There was a time in my life when a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains offered a daring adventure of inner tube rides along a wildly running river or an arduous hike to the top of a steep mountain. But this other world of youthful physical exuberance has now vanished as Ruth and I pondered a more subdued experience in visiting this popular National Park on our 2020 road trip visit on the first weekend of June. Most assuredly then, these picturesque mountains would now entice us with easier hiking exertion as well as a much desired mental escape from the past three months of pandemic quarantining.
Regretfully, however, so many other tourists in Gatlinburg, Tennessee appeared to have the same thought in mind as we drove through the busy downtown. With heavy traffic gridlock into the park thus arising as a potential problem, we realized that our next morning plans to visit here might have to be changed. It seemed that a timely road turnoff or an empty picnic table would become our less ambitious reality on this day visit if parking near hiking trails could not be found. Good fortune, however, would strike us today as we found two hours of easy hiking bliss along the “Fighting Creek”Nature Trail on our way back to Gatlinburg. For those of you who are tired of those lengthy periods of pandemic isolation, the following photographs might provide you with some outdoor emotional therapy.