Meeting the Mountain

Your mission…

Reconnaissance at the Thomas Divide Overlook mile marker 462 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Objective: Make visuals with the rumored ghost lights in the area and if possibly bring back photographic evidence.

No this is not a build up of anticipation for Mission Impossible… but it did make for a fun format to exchange information. I was assigned this mission by Nikki. I had nothing else going on and it was a ten minute drive from the house.

So I accepted the mission.

I waited until the sun was starting to set before driving to location. It had been rainy all afternoon so I took it slowly on the wet, steamy roads. I stopped at each overlook on the way there, a. to take some fantastic pictures, and b. to buy me a little more time for dark to fall.

I reach the destination and line up the car to point toward the divide. The story goes that it’s one of the lesser known locations of pretty consistant ghost lights. With some coaxing from flashing your lights and honking your horn, red lights will appear in the sky above the divide and dance in the air before vanishing. I set up my camera, and prepared to wait.

There was still a lot of light in the sky. Whenever I’m at home or out hiking, it feels like one minute it’s sunset and the next it’s full dark. Not so when you’re WAITING for full dark.

I took some recordings…. which I may or may not post at a later date. They require some doctoring up which I don’t have the means to do at the moment. I also took some pictures which I will post on Dream Hike Love‘s faceb

ook page so be sure to check that out.

As the sun set, the night birds started singing. The call of a whippoorwill echoed morosely through the damp night air. The moon rose above the hilltop behind me, having nothing to do with the setting sun, it just happened to be that time in it’s cycle that it creeps into the sky during early evening.

Short of the light polution beyond the ridge from Gatlinburg… the last of the day faded from the sky.

And things started moving in the woods around me. There were a number of things it could have been, from opposums, raccoons, foxes, elk, birds… I swept the area with my headlamp. Either the owners of the movement were hiding too well, or they were too small to be seen. Probably birds. But I knew… I could FEEL something watching me. Still facing the mountain behind me, I chuckled and turned off the light. That’s when I saw the eyes.

Probably a hundred feet in the air, twenty feet between the two of them… a pair of dully glowing eyes watched me from the mountain. I’m not saying they were reflective animal eyes, I’m saying the mountain had eyes, and it was watching me. We locked eyes for a moment, my heart racing. I did not run. There was no ominous presense, there was nothing malicious about this entity. So I spoke to him instead.

I told him I meant no harm, and what my intent was. I knew upon seeing this being, that I would not be witnessing any of the said ghost lights. I tried to take a picture, but nothing came through besides darkness. From time to time the eyes would vanish, and I tried to continue with my mission.

I stayed until ten, flashing my lights and honking the horn periodically… but as I suspected – there was nothing. It’s said the lights only appear during the winter. I think the lights are the mountain… and during the spring, his energy is needed to feed all the new life. During the winter… he’s free to play. If I’m around this winter, I will happily try again.

I will keep you updated with any new missions that come along.

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Thank you

When I first started this blog, I would go through and individually thank the new followers, or commenters or people that liked what they read. I got away from that because it started to grow and I started to get busy. And as things got busier, I stopped posting as much, stopped adding as many tags… and I noticed I’ve lost quite a few followers. Now, this could be that many of those were the eroneous robots strewn about the internet and someone finally did some housekeeping.

But regardless… I do want to thank everyone that does stop by for a read. This was never really meant to be a source of entertainment, but if someone happens to find pleasure in glancing through then I’m always glad to know it.

This last year has given me so much to be thankful for. I find myself daily thanking the universe, God, Goddess, Flying Spaghetti Monster or whatever tickles your fancy. Of course it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows…. but those storm clouds and bonechilling days help us to really appreciate the good we have. All it takes is focusing on all of those simple good moments.

Empty House

It’s quiet here.

Sorry, allow me to backtrack.

I just moved into a little efficiency apartment in the staff housing area of the Oconaluftee Maintenance area in the Great Smoky Mountains. As of this week, I officially work for the National Park Service. That’s something I’ve always wanted to be able to say and it still feels like I’m dreaming to say it. Much of this last year still feels like a dream – but that’s for another post.

I am not in one of the shared homes like so many others. Instead, I have this small little efficiency tucked between the laundry room and another apartment. At first I was a hesitant… it costs a bit more to live alone… but then I got to thinking about it.

I have NEVER in my life lived alone. And this… is probably the only opportunity I will ever have in my life to do it. To not have to worry about disturbing anyone when I get up or stay up late. To clean something and know it’s going to stay clean until I pick it up again. To not have to hide food or put my name on things. To organize how I want to.

It’s a nice little place. I have a tiny porch but the rushing Oconaluftee river in my backyard. I could toss a line in every afternoon if I felt like it – granted I can’t keep the trout I catch because of being in a national park… but still.

And it’s quiet….

But it’s quiet…

I’ll manage the surge of emotions. Being apart hurts. Being lonely… well.

I have ample opportunity to tackle things that I haven’t gotten around to. It’ll keep me busy, distracted. So we’ll see what happens in the upcoming months. We’ll see if I can actually buckle down and tick things off the to do list.

Groanworthy

When I go for a hike, I often find myself glancing around and trying to name all of the plants. From shrubs to trees to just wildflowers. I’ll name the ones I know and pause for a moment to pick out something new of them make them easier to identify, even when they don’t have leaves in the winter.

I also have little conversations in my head. This isn’t reserved for hiking, this is pretty much all the time. Anyone who knows me has discovered this because sometimes it doesn’t stay contained in my head and I’ll catch myself having the conversation out loud.

Today’s conversation was me and id… and we were looking for a mature Sassafras tree. I’d spotted a couple of small seedlings and a little sappling, but I really wanted to get a solid look at the bark of a mature tree. So as I’m walking along, I spent my time looking up at the canpoy. This is already dangerous because of how clumsy I was, but it was a pretty smooth walking trail so I wasn’t too worried. Tulip Poplar, Chestnut, Locust…. but no Sassafras. “Well it WOULD stand out like a sore thumb” the voice in my head mentioned with a smirk. I let out a single chuckle and shook my head. “That wasn’t funny.” You see some of the leaves ont he Sassafras have little mittens… with thumbs… *sigh*

My id thinks it’s funny… It’s really just chalk full of poorly timed dad jokes.

Be that as it may, I did not spot any of these trees. I was grateful however for the opportunity to walk through the lower elevations of the smokies during heavy spring with everything in bloom. Not even a month ago, there were barely any leaves on the trees and everything was still just a little bit duller in color. But not now. It is such a vibrant shade of green that it hurts the eyes.

It is life… and life is beautiful

Don’t give up

I completed a dream today. One of those little life goals that we set for our selves. Ever since I was a little girl, I told myself that I would hike the old Mitchell trail. It starts in the black mountain campground and travels up the ridge to the summit. And today… I did it.

Well today and a little of last night. I started late last night and camped in the most peaceful place I’ve ever been. Ther only noise was the sound of a distant rushing creek.

An owl woke me up just before dawn and I took a little time to wake up, make some tea and get hiking. I made it to the top, set up my hammock and chilled out for the day.

The hike was steep. I’m exhausted. But it was so worth it. It’s the most beautiful mountain imaginable. It smells really good up there. It’s the sort of smell that creates nostalgic memories that you never forget.

Working in circles

I think all writers can relate to being mind numb. Staring at the screen, hoping and praying for inspiriation or the drive to put thoughts to words. 

I’ve been stuck in writing limbo for a long time now. I know what I need to do… but nothing comes to my fingertips. I can’t buckle down and make myself work on it. This of course isn’t new… and a lot of it I did to myself. It’s still aggrivating though.

My computer recently died on me. The cost to fix it? Well if we could figure out what was actually wrong with it… would probably be more than what the computer is worth. Alas… I haven’t really been using it much to begin with. So I’m working on setting my tablet up to optimize it’s abilities to aid me in writing. 

Now if only I could write…

I have five more chapters in Forgotten Guardian, not to mention the numerous other books that I need to write for the series. I have my local fantasy story I need to work on… But I think that might just be something I retire with one day. In the meantime… well… I’ll get to that. 

You see I had a plan… but I’m a Cancer and I’m changeable… and as always – my plans evolve. I was going to stay here. Keep renting this little place let Ethan go to school, keep working this little dead end job. Terry had pushed things back until June without discussing it with me, so I had pretty much resigned myself to not being able to continue with the work I started. All of it takes me away from Asheville, commuting in a way that isn’t condusive to leaving Ethan alone. 

Murphy was looking for trail jobs. That meant by Spring, he’d be traveling away and I’d be stuck here. Plenty of time to write and tie up loose ends… That way I could maximize what I thought was all the time we had. 

But that wasn’t good enough. I didn’t sacrifice so much this last year to inevitably sit on my ass waiting around for things to get in motion. Waiting for a whole other season to pass me by. So we worked out the details and put a much smarter plan in motion. 

Two years.

Terry signed the contract for two years with a decent pay increase. And I… I’m going to go get some trail work and experience under my belt so what by the time a good local position does become available I would be more qualified for it. 

So I’ve submitted dozens of applications for trail work. I’ve submitted them across the country for the chance at something different. The overall idea… is overwhelming. I wanted to do something with that time away (regardless of where I end up). And I think I have it a pretty solid idea thanks to Bonnie and Murphy. I want to share the magic of the trails with everyone. So for the next year, I will be collecting stories, tips, histories, and everything I can get my hands on and put it in a format that everyone can enjoy.

So no changes just yet. I’ll write when I can. Share when and what I can… and when the time comes, I’ll set everything up.

Oh the boxes

My life revolves around boxes. I moved 13 times by the time I was 13. I worked in a warehouse for years, and now I’m working at another. 

Fill up orders, put them in boxes, get them shipped out. But I like it. It’s a bit therapeutic, and there are far worse things I could be doing with my winter.

I had a deep conversation with any ex park ranger once. He mentioned the business here is tough because it’s all seasonal. You either resign yourself to odd jobs over the winter, or go unemployed. 

Granted I’m no where near being a ranger at the moment… but trail work follows the same pattern. Especially when you’re first starting out. 

I found my odd job on craigslist. It fulfilled a need. And the people I work with are some of the kindest souls I’ve ever met. I’m happy to have found them. 

If the universe deems my plans worthy, maybe we can work something out each winter. No more searching… just steady routine. Routine helps with my seasonal blues. Keeps me on track. Please universe, deem us worthy.