Hiking in the Smokies is a great way to connect with Nature. And it’s important to connect with Nature every so often. Nature calms and heals the stressed soul. A good 4 mile hike will remind you it’s important to stay in shape. A stunning view can take your breath away and remind you how important your breathing really is — for playing the flute or for stunning views. A quiet moment prompts praise for Silence’s power amidst chirping birds and rusty crickets. It can be of great value, as Thomas Hardy would remind, to have moments that are far from the madding crowds.
On the trails, wildflowers provided colorful surprises. Mountain laurel, catawba rhododendron, galax, bluets, and even a few flame azalea. The elevation of the trail had an impact on the kind of wildflowers.
I always carry a flute in my backpack to play when sitting on the rocks beside a stream or on a mountain top. The music carries in the breeze, and I’m delighted when birds join in to sing with the flute.
For these recent hikes, I carried one of my little chestnut branch flutes. The rest of the flutes made from that chestnut branch all have new homes, with the last ones selling at the Harp Gathering last month. After the sunset on Cliff Tops, and the crowd had dispersed, I pulled out my wee chestnut branch flute and played “Amazing Grace”. When I stopped, it was very quiet and serene. Then, a big round of applause erupted from about 20 people I’d not seen who had been behind me as I played.
The trees along the trail often capture my attention — especially a fallen limb. I try to determine what kind of tree it is and consider if it would make a good flute or carved spoon. Of course, this hiking is in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and taking anything (other than photos) isn’t allowed — so I’m just speculating.
And what wonderful views of sparkling streams, mountain vistas and the green canopy. Whether I am watching the daredevils jump into the Sinks or I am taking time to play one of my musical instruments in special locations, it is always a fascinating and beautiful time in the Smokies.