Sunday, July 13, 2008

Smoky Mountain Adventure

So I'm finally posting again. I wasn't posting because I had no way to download pictures, but I'm not going to let that stop me anymore. I'll just find some.

Have you ever been to east Tennessee? It's quite the southern paradise. I went for a weeklong AP History training. I stayed in Maryville, a few miles from Knoxville. This is a picture of my dorm building.

So I'll tell you the most adventurous story: The lost hikers. I made friends with three teachers there: Jennifer, a spunky English teacher who hadn't been hiking in years; Melissa, member of a hiking club and divorced mother of 1; and Phil, a gung-ho married guy with 2 kids.

We drove through the Smoky Mountains, pictured at the right, to a ranger
station at Cades Cove. There I learned that this area is known to
be invested by hundreds of black bears. My immediate thought was:
Jim: What kind of bear is best?
Dwight: That's debatable.
Jim: False! Black bear. Bears! Beets! Battle star galactica!
So anyway, we take off on this hike. Melissa and Phil started getting way ahead of Jennifer and me. See, she wanted to take a lot of pictures along the way, and also she needed to rest for 5 minutes each time we walked 5 minutes up the hill.
We were on our way to see some waterfall. Phil and Melissa decided to just go way ahead of us and meet us later. The problem was that we never planned a meeting place and they never told us to turn left onto a different trail.
So soon they were an hour ahead of us on a different trail and we continued to climb up the mountain thinking they'd soon be on their way back down. They never did come. And it was like 8:30, about an hour until dark, when I suggested we'd better start back without seeing the waterfall.
At 9:30 it got pitch black outside and we were hiking through bear-infested woods. A bear had just killed a lady hiker a week before. It was taking us much longer than we thought to get back.
Meanwhile, Melissa and Phil got to the car 45 minutes ahead of us. When they had almost reached the car, they saw a black bear. Melissa was totally freaked out that we were hurt or eaten by that bear. They decided to tell the ranger station we were missing. A ranger came and wrote a missing person report and didn't even try to look for us.
When we finally got there, still pretty chilled out and calm, Melissa started sobbing. "You don't know how glad I am to see you guys!!! " She hugged us and cried and cried. She told us that while she was waiting she promised God all these things if he would send us back. (one thing relating to her run-ins with men) Anyway, this poor woman had this traumatic experience and we were fine.
We got a 10 minute lecture from the ranger, who wanted us to reflect on "what we did wrong."
So the moral of the story: Don't go hiking in late afternoon without a flashlight, have a plan of where to meet, and don't mess with Smoky mt. rangers.