A day of hiking bliss expectations detoured: A pot of gold after the storm.
Mr. Wonderful’s love of the mountains was as palpable as his very breathing. It was obvious he was being called to his ‘church’ in the great forests; he knew all the names of the trees, the different types of stones and which layer of the earth they were discovered; he recited and related to John Muir’s observances of his First Summer in the Sierra, and he directed my attention to every droplet of nature that so inspires him and creates the inner peace that he only finds in the mountains. He was in his pure state of harmony.
As we crossed the Pigeon River that we were to have been rafting on, he suggested we diverge our course to watch those who had chosen to endure the cold drizzle of rain in the very cold water, at least to me (a chilly 65 degrees). As we watched the rafters, it was indeed obvious that there was a disregard to the challenge of the rafting, like a horse ride where the horses are nose to tail curtailing the horses’ creativity, personality, and respect for what could be. It was best, without Mr. Wonderful ever saying so, that the storms came. I would have been bored.
Back to our upward climb; the rainy sky was bellowing to implode as we advanced, and the expectation of a day in the mountains to exhale stress, work out the sedentary residuals in our joints, and breath in the mountain air, began to waive. We pulled over for a quick climb on the Appalachian Trail. The exciting scent of the damp, earthy, and crazy nature abundance surrounding us had me ready to challenge any thoughts of a cold and extremely soggy, dangerously slippery hike, when suddenly the thunder began to moan and bark at us telling us our hike was over. So, x marked the spot and we returned to the truck to push onward, higher and higher, as we watched the pregnant clouds swell so close it seemed we could reach outside our steamy windows and massage their puffiness.
As we began to think about lunch (what more to think of in the mountains of storms) Mr. Wonderful took a turn that opened up a hillside of apple trees. Green, robust, plump succulent apples, and grass so thick it made me reminisce of the horses gallivanting on their sugar sibilation, when we indeed see horses grazing under the low hanging limbs, and the advertisement for the Carver Apple Orchard, store, and restaurant. It wasn’t just the beauty of the orchard and the horses that made us immediately make that right hand turn, it was also the memory of last night’s dinner that left us both dissatisfied with disgruntled tummies! (Turning out to make for one of the best laughs of my life; but that’s personal).
I will review the restaurant in another writing, but I cannot go without saying that the apple fritters were simply mouth watering. Not in my past nor did I think in my future would I eat an apple fritter. I do not enjoy the cravings of a sweet tooth, nor do I prefer fried anything. But oh my they were somehow just what the mountains ordered! So crispy, so sweet, non-greasy, and so light that one was not enough. But, control in contact, I knew if I ate any more, I wouldn’t eat the anticipated plates yet to be served. I stopped. Then the best apple butter I’ve ever tasted came. Just one more. Yummeeeeeee.
As the sun decided to start cresting through the recuperating clouds, we chose to take a chance to hike to Midnight Hole along the Appalachian Trail. What an incredible hike it was. The earlier storms provided for enough coolness in the mountains to offer us fabulous air conditioning as we encountered each of the falls along the trail; the cool air wrapping itself around my shoulders and reminding me of nature’s complete ability to provide all that we need in life. The cold water was an allurement that I could not escape. At each boulder that God obviously placed for the perfect resting spot, I removed my shoes and greeted the benumbing water on my skin again and again, and exhale the weights of the real world beyond vacation. Mr. Wonderful was in his glory; breathing in each cool scent into his nostrils to let nature’s anesthesia relax every inch of his body.
Midnight Hole was beyond splendid in beauty. Its effect of stillness, while simultaneously evoking the pumping adrenaline of the rushing water’s euphoric spirit was paralyzing. We were savoring the feelings for enough time to allow our minds and bodies to escape, to only miscarry before saturation: We lost our privacy, warranted however, by those who also wanted to enjoy the full depth of Midnight Hole. Stripping down to as least as possible, mounting the giant boulder only to take a very arctic and refreshing plunge, and indulge; fulfilling the experience, floating in the gentle rapids and allowing an exhaustive refreshment.
I understand, now, Mr. Wonderful’s sanctity of the mountains; the streams, the falls, the most infantile and the most gargantuas creations that are explicable only in one’s imagination other than Divine Creation, and the reality of the exhaling of unwarranted stresses of our world. I wonder if cave men and Indians ever died from heart attack related to a stressful lifestyle. I doubt it. With nature being an all encompassing tranquilizer to modern day stress, why do we live in the situations we live in? Life can be so much more simple. What do we need? Really? A flame, water, shelter? All the food needed is provided by the Earth.
Is this why so many are ‘downsizing’ to campers and backpacking and taking to the road? Traveling the world living in hostels, and experiencing a surreal existence that they never before thought possible? We live in a huge world for a reason. I don’t think that reason is to only experience our daily grind and turn our brain and senses off to all the possibilities this world has of offer.
Maybe ‘The Waltons” and “Little House On the Prairie” were so ahead of their times. A simple life style where God, family and true daily needs should be priority. Then, as empty nesting occurs, the wide open world opens its wide open arms and invites us to simply live among its pleasures. The pot of gold achieved from adventure and exploration outside our personal, tiny, money driven world.