When one thinks of awe-inspiring, inconceivably beautiful vacation destinations, places such as New Zealand, Bora Bora, or France often come to mind. There are so many fascinating places to visit that people often overlook the beauty closest to them. This happened to me in a recent summer. A few family members and I set off to go gallivanting through the Great Smokey Mountains. My initial thoughts on this short-term vacation lacked excitement. I had no knowledge of the beauty I was about to observe.
Our place of residence for the week was a quaint, rustic cabin called Jones Gap nestled on the top of Cedar Mountain between North and South Carolina.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
The long, curvy road leading to it foreshadowed the appearance of the hiking trails we would tread on later in the week. As our days of hiking began, we opted for the undersized trails in Pisgah National Forest that quickly revealed the peaceful sound of rushing water and birds chirping. My cousin and I walked together on the narrow dirt paths defined by the trees standing pretentiously above.
I can still feel the tangibility of excitement as we would get a glimpse of the cascading water and suddenly be standing face to face with some of God’s most breathtaking creation—waterfalls. We had the opportunity to visit Hooker Falls, Looking Glass Falls, Triple Falls, and many more. On a few occasions, the crystal clear water enticed us to give in to the temptation of swimming in the small pools gathered below the falls. The cool water refreshed us for the rest of the hike encircling the mountain. One particular destination we arrived at contained a massive sloped rock with water trickling downwards into a pool at the base. Many people gathered at Sliding Rock to enjoy a ride down its rocky surface. My sister, cousin, and I accepted this challenge. As I slipped down the exposed surface, I braced myself for the shocking impact of the freezing water onto my skin.
Other sights we observed while around the trails were the crooked and stubby Laurel trees and other interesting plants that helped create the hiking atmosphere. We often enjoyed looking at the plant life while enjoying a picnic lunch on the trail. The overall experience of getting to spend time with loved ones and catch up on life while overwhelmed by the exquisiteness of nature was unique and peaceful. These pleasurable days were made even more enjoyable through other experiences. A particular day, we all decided to engage in shopping within Brevard, North Carolina, at the picturesque downtown boutique called Theophilus (http://brevardnc.com/businesses/theophilus-27-s-broad-street-downtown/), and afterwards indulge in an ice cream treat at Rocky’s Grill and Soda Shop (http://ddbullwinkels.com/Rockys/). Another day we pursued horseback riding through the gorgeous mountain terrain. My horse’s steps never wavered as it crossed creeks, rocky ground, and slants along the mountain side. Yet another day we chose to go swimming and paddle-boating at Table Rock State Park (http://www.southcarolinaparks.com/tablerock/introduction.aspx). The surrounding lake’s flat, glassy surface revealed an overstated hill splotched with areas of roughly exposed rock above. As we played in the water and built objects with the thick sand, the sand squished between our toes.
One night, when we had arrived back at our cabin, we walked up a small hill just outside our door and stood in awe of the city lights shining below. These lights represented those of North Carolina and South Carolina. The sights I saw in these states will forever be in my memories and have already helped shape the person I have become.