Skip to main content

My long walks with Josie grew into longer hikes in the Smokies, and the mountains, too, had things to teach me. First and perhaps most of all, patience. You’re here to see things, not to get to the end of the trail in record time. Second, stubbornness. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. What you need may just be around the next bend. And finally, spontaneity.  What you really need will almost always be a total surprise, so expect the unexpected.

I was climbing Mount LeConte in the Smokies for the first time a few years back. It is one of the most popular trails in the park, but having spent over thirty years in the area I had never made the effort. I was determined to summit this steep and somewhat strenuous Appalachian peak. Hiking alone in the early morning, I had the trail seemingly to myself. Three quarters of the way to the top, the trail narrowed to a cliff hugging vista, a two thousand foot drop off to my left, and a sheer escarpment to the top on my right. Imagine the picture below, taken three hours later on the way down after summitting, enshrouded in fog around 8 am.

 photo pass_zps582564a1.jpg

Suddenly, around the corner and emerging from the mist, came a doe, perhaps two years old, on a stretch of the path barely wide enough for one. She halted, looked behind her and then over the edge of the drop off, and then lowered her head and took one or two hesitant steps toward me. I stepped back against the escarpment, looked away from her back down the trail, and said “go ahead, sweetheart, go on.” Out of my peripheral vision I saw her approach, soundlessly, and walk by so close to me I could feel her warmth in the morning chill.

I could have stretched my hand out and touched her. She walked slowly past, hesitantly, for perhaps twenty feet, turned back and looked at me, and commenced eating some grass on the trailside. I found my camera and captured a view of her a few moments later. At that moment reaching the summit became superfluous. I was given a huge dollop of grace again, and I knew in a moment where the path always leads. Where all paths lead.

They lead to now.

 photo doe_zpsfbb6a062.jpg

Next week, a conclusion of sorts; a photographic tour of Josie’s Hollow.

Part 1: Genesis
Part 2: The Weight of Reason
Part 3: Dog Walk
Part 4: Dispatches From The Front

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site