Monday, February 25, 2013
Wintertime hiking---my favorite!
The weather was nice as we left Knoxville, and we were surprised when it started to snow pretty hard as we were making our way through Townsend. We chose to drive up Little River Road so we could stop in at the Sinks to see what damage had been done by vandals earlier the week before. Thankfully, when we got to the Sinks, no sign of damage was evident to us. I suppose park officials had already sand-blasted the graffiti off the rock surfaces which had been tagged by some nincompoop who must have thought it cool to destroy one of the most beautiful places in the world.
I love wintertime hiking for several important reasons. Most importantly, probably, is utter lack of snakes! I detest snakes with the fervor God intended when He cursed the serpent in the Garden of Eden. And in weather like this I don't even have to worry about them at all. That's always a plus!
Another favorite aspect of wintertime hiking that appeals to me is the lack of other people on the trails. It is rare that we see more than one or two people on any trail we do this time of year. Don't get me wrong; I don't have anything against people in general, but I do love the solitude and quiet that pervades the mountains and trails this time of year. On this hike, we only saw one other hiker--a young man who had hiked out of the campsite he and his wife had set up when it had started to snow the night before. They had hiked down off the mountain not knowing what to expect from the weather. I got the feeling he would have stayed, but instead he carried out his wife's backpack, leaving his own gear on the mountain. That's how we saw him coming down Curry Mountain as we were going up. He'd already been back to the campsite to retrieve his pack and was about half way back down when we were making our way up the trail.
It also seems to me that when the clouds break after or during a winter snow event, the sky is more blue than I've ever seen it on other occasions. I'm sure there's something scientific at work here, but I remain oblivious to those reasons. I just am enamored by the sight. There was one such moment of crystal clear blue sky peeking out amidst snowstorm clouds noted in the photo below:
I know as spring approaches, it will hold beauty and excitement of its own. It too, is one of my favorite times to be in the mountains. However, a part of me holds onto these special wintertime hiking days as the rest of the year marches on. To be honest, I suppose whatever season I'm in at the time is one of my favorites--each season holds its own unique advantages and surprises.
I suppose it's ok to adapt a popular bumper sticker here: A bad day in the mountains is better than a good day at work! Not surprisingly, I haven't had many "bad days" in the mountains!