Song of the Mountain

I don’t know why I continued driving tonight. I struck out in the hopes of snagging some sunset photos. There was just enough dust and clouds in the sky I hoped it would be beautiful.

So I turned.

Down the road to the highest peak near me.

I’ve lived in the Smokies for over a month now… and today was the first time I took the road to Clingman’s Dome.

I knew immediately I would get no vibrant sunsets tonight.

Instead, it was like driving into another world. The clouds settled heavily around the road, giving the drive a surreal feel.

I pull around and park. I’m thankful that I thought to put on long pants (considering it’s been in the 90’s) and grabbed my flannel. And I started walking.

I’ve walked through clouds before… but there was something almost foreign about the trek up to the dome. I’ve summited many a mountain, some over 10k feet… but this was the first time the thin air got to me. Maybe it was the clouds, the added moisture in the air.

Like snow on the ground, the vapor absorbed the sounds of my footfalls, even the rustling of the leaves in the breeze. I could only see about four feet ahead of me in places. The fog was oppressive, and at least a little spooky. And even though I knew there wouldn’t be a view… I continued to the top. All the way to the observation deck.

I can’t tell you why my feet carried me there, but I’m thankful they did. Because on the way down, I heard the Mountain’s song.

You’ll often hear me humming on the trails. Nothing in particular… or rather… maybe it’s very specific. A song that I hear in my head. It’s different every time. It’s like the spirit of each mountain sings it’s own song. Clingman’s is proud and eternal. It builds to a crescendo in the wind and ends on a hanging note.

You’ll only hear my out of tune, quiet hum… but what I hear?

It’s a full orchestra. If I could compose what I hear… but then maybe that’s part of the magic. Part of the mystery. Maybe the song is different for each person.

I don’t remember the songs once I leave. Though a couple of times I recorded myself humming. I doubt I’ll ever do anything with them. The song the mountains sing are far more elegant than anything I could produce. I’d rather listen to them where they belong. 20180630_211820


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. 

I made it? 

The great mountain migration… the quest for Asheville. I have succeeded? 

I mean, I live here at the moment. But… 


What? You’ve been ranting and raving about getting up here no matter what for the last 17 years. What do you mean but? 

Simmer down, hear me out. 

When I left ace, I was in something of a desperate mind set. I was lonely, missing my boy, but the thought of going back to Florida left my guts twisted. I had to stay. Some how, some way… so I did. 

I’m living in a room… a small one, in a bed that isn’t mine. Ethan is sleeping on a sofa… we’re intruding oon someone else’s life and paying them for it. But it’s not quite… right. 

I had initially spoken to the boy about sticking together this year… But this isn’t quite right. 

That’s when I saw it. The job I’d been eyeing for years. It means being away for longer, but the results? To work on the Appalachian trail, to be partnered with someone I hold in such high esteem… could I really pass it up? 

If we could stretch out this strange split arrangement for a couple of years, the universe might actually see something through. We might actually have the money for our property, to do things right. To plant real roots. 

Summer on the trails, winter in the mountains… just for a couple years. It’s still the mountains. It’s still trail work. And it wouldn’t be like ace. I’d actually get paid this time. 

Wish us luck, because I’m taking the step at a running leap.

Foggy fall day

Winding down after a couple of weeks of nothing. Getting ready to dive back into the real world. So after class today, Ethan and I went up to the park. I played around with my watercolor pencils while he ran around like a madman. 

It’s fun and relaxing. They’ll never win any awards, but I like painting mountains. 


I found my Zen today. The rush of the stream, the autumn wind roaring through the changing leaves. One distinct chapter of my life is coming to a close. And while I made what will probably only be facebook friends by and large, I’m overjoyed to have made one amazing connection that will last a lifetime. 

You take this moment, and live in it. Find peace in the little things. Accept that your path is already laid out in the tapestry of the universe and enjoy the ride. Many people don’t like to Hear it, but everything happens for a reason. 

I get back to Asheville tomorrow. I’m ready to put my life back in play. I feel like it’s been paused for six months, but those six months have taught me more than I’ve learned in the last few years. 

The plan is job, home, and life given full attention. There’s too much going on right in front of me to waste time day dreaming about what may or may not happen. 

Working the trail

You don’t decide to work on trails for the money. It’s not the notoriety, the appreciation, or the benefits. There’s no real job security and there’s rough competition. 

You do it, because you want to hike to work. Because when you have free time, you spend it in the woods. Because you enjoy coming home filthy dirty and exhausted. You do it for the pride, even if no one else ever notices. 

You fall in love with it… or you don’t. There’s not really an in between. And once you know this is what you want, you’d do anything to keep doing it. 

I’d be content living out my life in the side of the mountains. Swinging in my hammock each night, listening to the birds. Building, renovating and hiking these trails. 

I want to teach Ethan what it means to leave no trace. To have the same love and respect for the forest as I do. Then maybe once he’s old enough, he may choose the same rewarding life. 

It’s not easy. I’m sore and bruised and bug bitten. I’m covered in dirt and sweat. I eat the same things day in and out. But I’ve never felt more alive. If I could have my family with me, I think I could truly feel whole for the first time in my life. 

The creek’s secret

There are times that I truly forget I’m not in my twenties anymore. It occurred to me especially today as I sat on a rock on Curtis Creek with a fishing line in the water. As I sat there, I thought “I remember doing this and how fun it was and it’s been… twenty… five… years. Not 10 years not just a couple years ago. Its been 25 years since I have dropped a line into Curtis Creek.  Hell I’m currently working with people as old as the last time I’ve done this. And for a heartbeat… it was depressing. 

Then I laughed. 

There a few things that I have learned today. Well, perhaps I learned them some time ago, but I was reminded today either way.

  1. I’m comfortable with my age. I may not have had a  exciting life, but I have an Ann amazing family, wonderful friends… And I don’t feel old. Therefore, I’d like to believe I’m not old. That age, like time, it’s just an abstract construct. 
  2. You can’t change what’s already been done. This is an obvious point but sometimes we still dwell. 
  3. Fishing is very relaxing. I don’t know why I haven’t done something like this in those 25 years. Even when you don’t catch anything it’s comforting to listen to the water and think of everything, or nothing, or whatever you need at the time. 
  4. There’s no point staying mad over things. Learn a lesson from those situations that have made you mad? Certainly. But staying that way? It only causes needless stress. 
  5. Nostalgia… is deceiving. I remember some things so clearly… But between the passage of time and changes to the woods, things are nearly unrecognizable. 
  6. These mountains are my grounding. They will always bring clarity and rejuvenation. 

In one hour, the sun will be eclipsed by the moon. By the time anyone reads this, it will have already happened. I wish Ethan could be here with me. Although I didn’t start this little venture in a good mood and I don’t think it would have been a fun trip for him. 

I did however find a perfect little secluded meadow, propped up my folding stool and am ready to go. The temperature is already dropping, it started about 30 minutes ago. There are currently clouds covering the sun, but again, there’s an hour to go.