Sunday, August 03, 2008

Smoky Mountain Run

Greetings from the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee! It is so different here from the New Mexico desert. The forests are lush with growth and rot, and the air is heavy with moisture. So heavy, in fact, that after about 2pm all we want to do is sit in front of a fan or dunk ourselves repeatedly in the pond, a murky but beloved tradition formed when my grandfather dammed up one of the hollers. My parents, who have built a lovely summer cabin here, are purists, who don't want to block out nature with something so roaring as an air conditioner. Dad looked like he might consider relenting when I reminded him that we haven't had to go down the hill to the double-seater outhouse for several years, since they installed indoor plumbing. So maybe next year they'll upgrade to temperature control! *

A 9 mile run was on my training calendar for yesterday, so I headed for Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I set out at dawn, drove to the park headquarters, silent and empty at that hour, and spent just over the next two hours running the trails nearby. I ran this trail twice, back and forth. Thanks to my esposo who gave me a Garmin GPS watch for my 50th, I could tell exactly how far I had run and how fast, in addition to my heart rate and speed. My plan was to upload photos here, but the dialup connection in the cabin won the staring contest. I'll post them after I return.

By the time I got back, drenched and depleted, the parking lot was full of tourists coming and going from the visitor's center. Some looked at me askance as I emerged, dripping, from the forest like some kind of creature of the deep. I was still on my feet, though, and proud of myself for having made my longest run yet, and all by myself.

The cabin is at the end of a one-lane gravel road. When you're here, you can imagine how life used to be in these hills, before Dollywood, before all the tourist attractions that choke the parkway. At night, the tree frog chorus screeches, and, in the early morning, the forest silence is broken only by birdsongs. These woods are old, old, old, yet in a constant state of renewal. It's oddly rejuventating.

*News flash! They got two window air-conditioning units while I was there! Bliss!

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