Over ther weekend, I got the perfect lesson in staying in the moment. I got the heck out of town and headed west to the Smoky Mountains. You may be wondering how that went seeing as how the government is shut down and all. Well, I did a bit of research before I left and discovered that Highway 441 – which runs from Gatlinburg to Cherokee – would remain open through the park. I then did further research and identified trails that would be off of 441. I thought I would be able to drive in and access any trail that started off 441.
Well, yes and no.
On Saturday, I went to the Gatlinburg visitor center where I was informed that while the highway was open, the trails were closed (seriously, how do you close a trail?). I was also told that if I was found on a trail I would be fined. I knew, from all my research, that there were about 40 employees in the park that were still working. I didn’t know what the odds were of being fined. Mostly, I found myself upset that all of this was happening.
You may also want to know why I even bothered to show up in the mountains in the first place. The short answer is: I had a cabin, it was paid for, and I was past the point of getting any sort of refund/credit when the government shut down. So I just went and decided to deal with it.
Saturday ended up being fun despite the fact that it did not go the way I planned. It was full of french toast, hot sauce tastings, and moonshine. On Sunday, I decided that the least I could do was go for a drive in the park on 441. I decided to make the drive from Gatlinburg to Cherokee. It takes about an hour, but it took me about two because I made stops along the way to take pictures.
I was glad I at least drove into the park. I went in a little after 9:00 am, and it was gorgeous. The sunlight was falling through the trees onto the road. Leaves were falling and blowing across the road. The higher in elevation I got, the more beautiful the tress became.
It was not the hike I wanted to take. But it was an enjoyable, perfect drive through the mountains. This was not the trip I envisioned when I booked it, but that turned out to be just fine. I got something great that I never expected. Instead of railing against the situation, I allowed myself to simply be in it. I am glad I was able to do that.