I woke up to a beautiful view of land rising towards the sky, standing tall and proud and majestic; realizing that in the grand scheme of things, I/we are nothing compared to what I was seeing. The intense feeling of being so tiny only comes when being a part of the land that goes up; an incredible feeling and one that immediately puts things in the right perspective. With that on my mind, the decisions for the day were made.
Plan A simply would not work; first, the weather would probably not cooperate but more importantly, Plan B was the one I was leaning towards. Being a traveler instead of a tourist, it was time to hit the trail running, exploring places known and unknown. No need to re-acclimate myself to these mountains; they’d been a part of me for 17 years. Some things never go away.
I headed south from said destination (refer to previous post, Return to the South Forty – Day 1) and then headed westward. Beautiful county. Beautiful views. Awesome road to drive if you’re not skittish of the curves and drops and rocks and things. Yay! The party had started!
I went over a bridge and there, below me, was a beautiful waterfall. It wasn’t a big, gushing one but a beauty just the same. The water came from under the bridge and flowed down the gentle slope of rock until reaching the drop. Down it went, lost from sight only to be found seconds later farther down the mountain before being carried around the bend. The path of least resistance. I couldn’t help but wonder how forceful the flow would be if a big rainstorm should happen. The path of least resistance might become obsolete for a time.
Forever onward, I thoroughly enjoyed driving this curvy, sometimes switchback, road. Curves are just so much fun! While in the midst of one of said curves, I happened upon a sign pointing out another waterfall. Hang an immediate left so I hung an immediate left. Yea, I’m good at things like that (big grin!). State Park one mile up; not my destination. My destination was nine miles up, a lonely, silent, desolate stretch of road that I enjoyed immensely. If I could choose that location as home, I would but that was all National Forest. The few homes I did see were bordered by National Forest land. In other words, the perfect spot.
Destination is reached and wow, is it ever quiet! There were a few other stragglers like me hanging about but otherwise, I was on my own. Waterfall up ahead but first I had to hit the woods. The silence, the dim light, the heavy canopy, no sound whatsoever filled the soul (and all points in-between) with peace. I could have sat there all day, enjoying that little wonder. However, I was determined to see the waterfall so out of the woods I went and onto the trail to see another wondrous sight. And what a sight it was.
Whitewater Falls is impressive, to say the least. Over 400 feet of cascading water; falling, tumbling on rocks, falling more, tumbling on more rocks until it finally reached the bottom that was so far down. The sound was a lullaby, another wondrous gift from this earth.
Since this was a public place and others were around, I decided to take the foot trail down the mountainside. That was my first blast of reality. I couldn’t do that anymore. Hike. The mountain. My heart hurt for me. I had no stamina, no energy, and definitely not the nutritional resources to do it. One-eighth of a mile maybe, and I had to come back up. Didn’t need to be a medical emergency that nobody knew about. Rude awakening. A definite smack up side the head moment. I reached the summit and sat down, contemplating what had just happened and couldn’t think of anything else more I could possibly do. I haven’t been cleared to continue ‘living life’ so soon after surgery but this little realization took some wind out of the sails. That’s okay though, I did get as far as I did and back up again. I’ll just have to work more efficiently and within my realistic boundaries, not do things like I used to could do, which obviously was not within my boundaries. It sure was in my heart, though!
So I hiked myself back to the woods, the dim light, perfect silence, heavy canopy and felt good about everything again. Besides, it was time to hit the curvy road again.
The trip was beautiful, no other way to describe it. The mountains have a smell like no other and I breathed that like life-giving oxygen. Bittersweet because I couldn’t fill up a bag and bring it home (laugh!).
I made another stop at another waterfall along the way, this one right on the side of the road. Very popular because it’s right there. Had a chat with a couple riding motorcycles. They were from Florida and camping ‘up’ the road somewhere. Interesting talking to perfect strangers. But soon, our quiet time came to a screeching halt as about 15 Harley Davidson’s pulled in and drove directly under the falls. I know lots of Harley riders and there’s not a bad bone in their bodies but this group here was rude, arrogant and king of the falls, and sure didn’t mind letting you know it either. They ‘subdued’ the normal folks out there and I soon left. Arrogant Harley riders were not on my list of peaceful things to do. Besides, the best curves of the bunch were on the open road right in front of me. Peaceful, easy feeling once again.
I hated when the ‘road’ ended and I entered town. Good thing though; it was getting late in the day, I needed to eat and restock healthy snacks for the night and I still had not reached the second destination, the one that was my old stomping ground. Did what I had to do and headed westward again, driving one of my most favorite drives in one of my most favorite of places, the Chunky Gal mountains. Such a beautiful place. I’ve been there when there was no snow starting up the mountains only for there to be eight inches of falling snow within 2 miles. Ice climbers always come in winter to climb the frozen ice over the sheer rock. They draw a crowd because you can’t help but stop and watch them in action.
Coming out of the Chunky Gal’s, I’m pretty much there. Literally in the South Forty, which is just ahead. Home. It’s good to be back. Destination has been reached. Time to gather my thoughts, put things in perspective, sleep on it, and start afresh the next day. I knew the next day would be full of memories and I needed to be prepared. Good memories that needed to be put in their proper place.
Day 2 has ended but the rest of the story will be continued.