Mountain magic

mountains-portraitMan has created some lovely dwellings – some soul stirring literature. He has done much to alleviate physical pain. But, he has not created a substitute for a sunset, a grove of pines, the music of the winds, the dank smell of the deep forest, or the shy beauty of a wildflower. ~Henry Broome, Posted at Newfound Gap in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

What do a faulty master brake cylinder and a mountain vacation have in common? Unfortunately, too much in our case. After a car repair bill just south of $1000 and a two day delay in our departure date, the utopian edition of our trip to the Smoky Mountains did not begin as envisioned. However, we are a resilient clan. Stubborn determination runs deep through my blood. This was one time where I could channel that character trait towards a worthy cause.

We packed up the car that had been figuratively duct taped together and headed for the hills, literally. 685 miles and 11 hours later, we coasted into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With temperatures hovering around 70 degrees and relative humidity near zero, any leftover feelings of anxiety or stress were expelled from our system like the exhaust from a car. Poof. Gone. Vaporized. It’s amazing how nature can provide instant relief like that.

Before the whole debacle surrounding our departure, I remember hearing a story about recent additions to the Oxford dictionary. The new word that piqued my interest, digital detox. Used to describe those times where you unplug from all electronic devices, it is a scary endeavor to consider for many individuals into today’s world. I was up for the challenge.

For eight days, I carried only a cell phone in my pocket. Not a single phone call was made. Not even one e-mail was read or responded to. The only liberty I provided to myself was the ability to use that phone as a camera to chronicle our adventure. The entire experience was soothing, rejuvenating, and peaceful. In one word, it was holistic. It reminded me that stepping into ways of the past may be the way of the future.

Travel is the dominion of the muse. You are out of your comfort zone, in unfamiliar territory, so you are particularly receptive to new input. ~Laura Oliver

wildflowersWith natural beauty pouring into our being from every direction, all our senses were fully engaged. It’s as if the mountains provided us with a magical 6th sense that penetrates the soul and provides a portal to a new dimension. It speaks through the smell of the fir trees, the chirping of the chickadees, the sight of butterflies frolicking from one brilliant bloom to the next. If there is a non-verbal definition for pure bliss, this is it. It needs to be felt, experienced, and fully absorbed in order to appreciate the influence it has over your sense of completeness.

sunset-moonBefore embarking upon this pilgrimage, I had seen a reasonable amount of wildlife in their natural habitat. After watching an absolutely breathtaking sunset unfold before our eyes at Clingmans Dome, we were “clinging” to every last drop of beauty the sunlight painted across the evening sky. Not to be left out, the crescent moon even made an appearance to dance with the sun during the waning moments of its performance (if you enlarge the picture, you are able to see it). Our senses were numb from over-stimulation. The numbness may have been enhanced by the 45 degree wind chills 😉

As we made our way out of the parking lot, the quickly fading sun provided us with the perfect nightcap. Silhouettes that could not be mistaken, a mama black bear with her cub served as gatekeepers to the exit. As the cub playfully scampered across the road, the unabashed smiles across our faces followed. It is a vision and a memory that I will never forget. There is something sacred about seeing an animal in the wild.

In the days that followed, we were blessed with other wildlife sightings: a wolf, a fox, and an entire herd of elk migrating across an open field at dusk. Only one word could come close to describing it. Magical.

Speaking of migration, we felt as though we were members of a migrating herd ourselves. Over the course of 8 days, we hiked over 23 miles on trails throughout the national park. Although 23 miles is not an earth-shattering accomplishment, for us flat-landers from Florida, the 23 miles in the horizontal direction coupled with the 2 miles in vertical elevation hiked imparted a feeling of supreme triumph even if our “well-used” legs did not share in the same level of exuberance 😉

rainbow-fallsAs we begrudgingly prepared to complete our annual pilgrimage, the final day included a trek to the summit of Rainbow Falls. Having a natural affinity for waterfalls and being the tallest in the Smoky Mountains, it was one destination on my must see list. After a 2.7 mile hike up 1700 feet, the journey’s end did not disappoint.

Faith is not being sure where you’re going but going anyway. ~Frederick Buechner

There is something therapeutic about the inertia of moving water as it falls over a ledge. It reminds me to have faith and always keep moving. A new type of rainbow connection was made on that day, a connection that stretches across the miles between my physical home in Florida and my spiritual home in the mountains.

Mother Nature provided us with a special connection over these precious days. Our return to civilization has been accompanied by a renewed sense of inner peace and calmness. Perhaps, it’s because we know those memories are waiting at the other end of our own personal rainbow. A pot of gold to be sure.

May the warm winds of heaven blow softly upon your house. May the Great Spirit bless all who enter there. May your moccasins make happy tracks in many snows, and may the rainbow always touch your shoulder. ~Cherokee Blessing

sunset

13 thoughts on “Mountain magic

  1. MRS N, the Author September 20, 2013 / 8:59 am

    What a beautiful retelling of your adventure through the Smoky Mountains! I could close my eyes and visualize it so clearly. Isn’t nature truly amazing? Sometimes when I am deep in a forest, I look around at the wildlife and my soul is cleansed! Thank you for sharing it with me. I hope you don’t mind that I saved the sunset with the mountains to my computer for a desktop image. It is truly beautiful! 🙂

    • davecenker September 20, 2013 / 9:06 am

      Thank you for your wonderful comments! I am happy that I could convey some sense of the natural beauty experienced over the course of our vacation. It has reminded me to keep nature close to my heart for it has powers beyond that which we can comprehend 😉

      • MRS N, the Author September 20, 2013 / 9:15 am

        So true! I am reminded of many past civilizations who knew the power of nature and honored it! I often think that while technology is great, nature is really the key to unlocking the magic of the universe. 🙂

        Just curious, have you gotten on Twitter yet? You would bless so many people with your writing and imagery. 🙂

  2. apartmentwife September 20, 2013 / 10:22 am

    i’m glad you were able to persevere and make the trip enjoyable despite the initial setback. have you ever considered writing a book? this post started out somewhat like a novel and i found myself wishing i could turn the pages…

    • davecenker September 20, 2013 / 10:26 am

      Why, yes, yes I have thought about it 😉 Thanks for the nudge in that direction. I am happy that you enjoyed the post and appreciate your encouraging words 🙂 Have an inspired day!

    • MRS N, the Author September 20, 2013 / 10:31 am

      I felt the same way. I wanted to know more and was sad when it ended. 🙂 Dave, you should write a book! 🙂

      • davecenker September 20, 2013 / 10:34 am

        Those proverbial winds are definitely growing stronger. Perhaps it is time to raise those sails and set forth on a new adventure 😉 Thank you both for the encouraging words 🙂

      • MRS N, the Author September 20, 2013 / 10:41 am

        You have to follow the winds or you might never know what new lands you could discover. Okay sailing aside, my simple response is… if I did it so can you! You have been blessed with this gift and you need to use it. The world needs inspiration so let’s change the world! 🙂 (If you ever want to chat more about it, feel free to email me) MRS N

  3. Jennifer September 20, 2013 / 10:58 am

    Gave me goosebumps – I wish that there was some way that we could just move permanently up there – talk about a soul cleanse! I think Mountain Magic was exactly what our family needed and I will never, ever, ever forget those 2 bears crossing the road and the look of sheer awe on our son’s face!

    • davecenker September 20, 2013 / 11:08 am

      Nor will I forget his impulsive desire to open the car door and jump out before it actually stopped. Special indeed 🙂 Regardless of whether we live in the mountains or visit frequently, a part of us will always be present there.

  4. TauneZenDen September 23, 2013 / 2:29 pm

    True to your well wishes for others, your posts are so inspiring! I agree there is something so sacred about seeing animals in their wild habitat. Although (some) zoos and wildlife centers really do help animals- there’s something so real and true when viewing the natural world and its inhabitants from within it! Thanks for sharing your beautiful trip! 🙂

    • davecenker September 23, 2013 / 2:53 pm

      Thank you very much for your kind and thoughtful words! It is refreshing to hear from others who feel the same connection to animals in the wild. It is truly magical. If everyone were able to experience that same mystical joy, I think the world would be a much different place. I hope you have an inspired day!

      • TauneZenDen September 23, 2013 / 3:54 pm

        I agree! You too 🙂

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