Yesterday I made the transition from biker to hiker as I set off to conquer some of the numerous trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I armed myself with a map of the trails, my hiking stick, plenty of water, and a complete ignorance of what I was getting myself into. For some reason, I did not equate the hiking trails shown on the map with the fact that I was in the middle of mountains, which meant that every trail went uphill!
In the mountains, there is no where to go but up and when you get there you go down. There is no such thing as a level hiking trail which really kind of sucked. By the time I climbed 2 miles to the top of the first trail, I was ready for lunch and a nap, but I took some pictures and went back down the mountain, determined to find an easier trail. The next one I tried also went up but there were two elderly ladies in front of me and I figured that if they could make it, so could I. Unfortunately, these women were traveling at a pace that soon outdistanced me and I could no longer see them. All I could see was more trail headed for the sky.
The third trail was listed in the guidebook as “easy” and if I ever meet the guy who wrote the guide book I’m going to smack him with my walking stick. It was uphill too but at a lower grade than the other two however it was a footpath that had huge tree roots crossing it which made every step a tricky proposition. As I traversed it I saw many signs that wild animals were in the vicinity which made me walk even more carefully because the last thing I wanted to do was to trip and break a leg, thus becoming a banquet for bears, wild boars, and scavenging birds. When I got back to my bike, I was thrilled to be able to ascend hills by simply twisting the throttle.
Today I am breaking away from the group I came with and heading to Franklin, North Carolina which I hear is very small. I don’t know what the population is but I’m pretty sure I will increase it by about 15%. I will be spending time with my friends Greg and Jane and their dog Milo before beginning my leisurely journey back home so if you live in Kentucky, Tennessee, or southern Indiana and would like an overnight guest that you could feed, let me know. I might just be riding through a town near you.