Travel Journal: Lessons from the Smoky Mountains

Appalachian Trail sign

I started keeping a travel journal in 2015 for my six week solo trip. Sometimes I’m surprised what comes out as I’m writing and what I learn as I make my way through the world. I thought it might be fun to do a series of blog posts that are different entries from my travel journals. I’ve only edited for punctuation or grammar. You get the real deal, which is a little scary…


March 16, 2019 ~ Hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoky Mountain NP today ~ everything I hoped for. Those views with the layers of ridges – amazing. I can only imagine what it looks like when all the trees have their leaves – I must come back!

I really wanted to do a hike so I picked a short piece of the AT (Appalachian Trail) from Newfound Gap to Indian Gap. A walk always gets my brain going, but in a productive way. I was thinking about how the trail was a great metaphor for life:Part of the Appalachian Trail

  • There’s no time limit – everyone’s pace is different base on all they’ve done leading up to the moment they step on the trail.
  • Some parts are harder than others. It’s okay to slow down or even take a break to regroup during the difficult parts.
  • It’s always changing – it doesn’t climb forever, eventually, it evens out or goes downhill for a while.
  • Hiking a piece of such a huge and iconic trail like the AT was no different than a hike in Millcreek (a canyon near Salt Lake) that no one makes a big deal about. The buildup is all in one’s mind – it’s simply a trail. It only becomes iconic when all the pieces are linked together. You have to walk it one step at a time, just like a stroll in the park.
  • Each step is its own thing – mud, ice, leaves, tree roots, dirt, etc. Thinking about a different step than the one you’re on means you’re more likely to stumble or twist an ankle. Be present.
  • Every person who has walked the trail encountered slightly different conditions, even on the same day. What was ice when I crossed the first time was mud on my way back. Comparison to someone else’s hike is never apples to apples.

I’m always grateful to nature for showing me the mirror and providing a little perspective.