Americans have an amazing country with bountiful natural resources and beauty that some feel the need to see firsthand. Yes, we leave our comfortable homes with heating and air conditioning to go out and walk on unpaved paths into places that often lead absolutely nowhere which may be full of wild, poisonous animals. Does that sound like fun or what?
Now let’s be fair and look at all the positives hiking offers. It is great exercise. And it gives you the chance to… ummmm… to… pee in the woods and we all enjoy that unless you’re not a guy then I hear it’s nowhere near as much fun. Also, hiking is a great way to… let’s see… I like to hike. At least I think I do. Why do I like it anyway? There must be a reason.
There was a time not too long ago that I went hiking in a place near my home called Ijam’s Nature Center. It has nothing to do with the dog food company. It is named after this family who were hippies about sixty years before hippies even existed. This nature center is in the middle of Knoxville and has hills and trails and hills and a boardwalk over the river and hills. Did I mention the hills? They are big hills. In fact, if you haven’t been hiking in a while and decided to hike on these trails with the hills, there is the slightest chance that you could end up laying on the nice cool ground because you’re dizzy from the spinning of the Earth and the spinning of the solar system and the spinning of the galaxy as it hurtles through space. Either that or I got dehydrated from hiking too far while out of shape and not enough water. I think it was the space dizzy thing.
Then there was the time I decided to go hiking in the Smoky Mountains and I didn’t think about the altitude. You see, I live in the Tennessee Valley and the Smoky Mountains are not in a valley since they are mountains. (Funny how that works out.) Hiking in the Smokies even if you are not climbing to the top of any of the peaks can be dangerous due to the amount of climbing you have to do. That thin air will get you into all kinds of trouble because we all know that climbing up those rises leads to less oxygen and fewer opportunities to breath. It’s either that or the fact that I hadn’t gone hiking since I passed out on that trail at Ijam’s and was still horribly out of shape. I think it was more the oxygen thing.
Thinking back, I can remember a time when I hiked sixteen miles and had to blaze a few of my own trails because the trail I was on got lost and I had to go traipsing through the woods trying to find where it had gotten off to. Some trails just have no concept of direction whereas my sense of direction is uncanny. That lost trail later turned up in downtown Chicago but was mugged by some guy who was looking for loose change. That is impressive since the trail started in Virginia. I ended up in Tampa.
This past weekend, my wife and I tried to do one of my bucket list hikes. It is called the “Mount LeConte” hike or the “Tennessee Death March”. One of us gave it the second name but discretion forbids me from telling who she was. We made it halfway to Alum Cave. The name is a little misleading. It is more of an outcropping that shields hikers from torrential rain and the wrath of the hiking gods who like to throw lightning bolts around the peaks. Going down is a lot faster than going up when you are dodging thunderstorms and light rain that some people may have called monsoons. We could still see a good seven or eight feet down the trail. Despite some claims by my fellow hiker, the stream we had to cross was not five feet deep with a current running eighty miles-per-hour. It was no more than four feet, nine inches and was only going seventy-three miles-per-hour. I admit to a little relief when we saw the flood waters had only reached the back tires of our car.
On an unrelated topic, my wife has a backpack and hiking boots for sale on Letgo.com.