As LC and James were climbing back up to the trail that led back to the Visitor's Center I stood for a moment looking around me at the waterfalls and fast moving pools of water, the abundant and leafless hard wood trees, portions of the remnants of the stone fort, and wondered (as I have done many times since arriving back in Tennessee) why I had only visited this place once when I lived in the area for so many years.
It was because of the training.
It was always about the training.
I do not regret the training but I am a different person now than I was only a couple of years ago and although running particularly, and biking and kayaking to a lesser extent are still important, I am seeing this place that used to be home and is now home again, with new eyes.
This entire region is a lovely area and offers so many exciting opportunities to explore.................
An unexpected and beautiful rusted piece of farming equipment.
Whenever I come across something like this - or an old piece of gold mining equipment or an old shot up rusted vehicle as I did in Juneau - I wonder about them.
Who used this piece? Where was it used? Why is it here? How long has it been sitting in this place?
Curious about the piece, the owners and their stories, and why this piece found its final home in exactly the place that it did................
As I finally reached the trail, playing straggler as I had since we first arrived at the park, I immediately noticed this tree.
It was the only tree that I saw carvings on during the entire time we were at the park, and as I studied it for a few moments I also had many of the same questions that I had while studying the piece of farm equipment that was down by the river.
Many of the w's - who, why, when.
Somehow it does not seem to matter that I will never find the answers to those questions.
An easy-going, relaxing, somewhat creative exercise to occupy the mind and sooth the soul while walking and wandering in the woods..............
I went running at the base the other day.
I entered the trail at 2:30pm and was shooting to be out by 4:30pm or I was going to run out of daylight.
Instead of running the 7 mile loop in the direction I have been running it since I first ventured back onto those trails not long after moving back into the house, I decided to run the loop in the opposite direction for a while and then explore a bit.
The loop in reverse includes lots of tough, very short and steep ups and downs early on but a couple of miles of very gradual downgrade on the way back.
After about 30 minutes I veered onto a trail that I had not been on in a couple of years.
I knew generally where I was but I did not know it as well as other parts of the base and the trail seemed to go on forever.
45 minutes after I went in I finally popped out of the trail, looked around me, looked up and down the fire service road I was now standing on and thought "I don't remember this".
Partially due to not having passed this way that often and also having not passed this way in a couple of years.
Partially because the entire base (including the trails) looks very different from season to season.
I stood on the gravel and leaf filled FS road drinking water and catching my breath and looking in both directions trying to reconcile in my mind exactly where I was.
Truthfully I was not concerned because regardless of which direction I ran I would eventually hit paved road and could then easily make my way back to the truck on black top.
Which I did not really want to do but time was moving on and I really did not want to be out after dark without a headlamp.
And then I stopped looking at the gravel double track road and seriously considered for the first time the single track trail that was directly in front of me.
Oh hell! I know that trail!
I knew exactly where I was.
The single track in front of me would have to wait for another day.
I headed in one direction down the FS road knowing that in about 1/2 mile I would come to a single track trail on my right that hooked up with other trails I knew well that would take me back to my truck.
Before I made it to the first single track trail my cell phone rang.
It was my youngest son calling me from Canada.
I sent an email to the first ski resort I found online that sounded similar to his description, asking if they had an employee by my sons' name.
It was not an emergency, but if you have said person as an employee please ask him to call home.
If I had not received a positive response I was prepared to send emails to every ski resort in the province because I was determined to track down my MIA and wayward youngest boy.
I had news. I had missed his birthday. Enough was enough.
He did not talk long because as we were talking he was feeding dimes into a public phone (do they even HAVE those anymore??)
He was on the phone just long enough for me to give him some grief about being out of contact and then enough time for him to briefly let me know that all was well and he was loving his job.
When Chris was stateside in the military I once lost contact with him for an unusually long period of time.
I contacted the base pastor and the boy called me within the hour.
His cell phone had gotten washed in the laundry and he had not gotten around to replacing it.
If he had not called me back then, I was prepared to climb up and down the food chain on base until he did.
He does not have a lot of family but the family he has cares about him and the other day I reinforced just how important it was for everyone to at least know how to get in touch in case something bad happened to anyone.
A few minutes after first answering the phone I was on the run again knowing that my child was alright.
I made it back to my truck at 4:40pm, having wrung almost all daylight out of the day...............
LC and James headed back to the truck and I headed into the Visitor's Center for a brief visit.
Because the museum portion of the center was free I had low expectations, but in the end really enjoyed my walk through the facility which included multiple artifacts, pictures, information boards and movie stations.
Some pictures of my quick wander through each of the stations.
Click on each picture to enlarge. And blogger has a slide show now............
Boys are beyond the range of anyone's sure understanding, at least when they are between the ages of 18 months and 90 years..........James Thurber