Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 180 - Fast and First

When I was younger I always wanted to be first. I was the first born and being first had "status."  I was the oldest granddaughter on both sides of the family.  That was a big deal. I got to have the honor being trusted to watch the younger cousins.  We would race in the wildflowers, swim in the pond and generally just play games of good clean fun.  Sometimes I'd lose purposely knowing that I could have won if I wanted to.

As I climbed on the trail to get to the tallest waterfall in South Carolina called Raven Cliff Falls, I had an epiphany.  As we get older, we want to be fast and first still but with age and wisdom comes the realization that it just isn't going to happen anymore.  I had an action packed day planned.  Start off with the longest hike of 2.2 for an overall 4.5 mile trek to Raven Cliff and then off to two more together and heading back to a local one that needed an SUV to get to.  As I walked the trail I understood why the brochures said it was a strenuous one.  My heart beat got up to 180 beats per minute on several inclines.  And that particular trail is up and down going both ways, so out of the 4.5 miles, at least half of those miles is uphill.  Steep uphill!

To give you an idea of how much energy you use on this trail, as we were going down our first descent, a man was coming up just finishing his hike.  His white t-shirt was drenched.  I said, "You took a dip this morning?"  I realized how foolish I was to ask this question when he said, "No this is all sweat!"  Wow, this wasn't going to be easy.  I set out trying to keep the fly off me that decided he want to come on the ride with me.  I realized I wasn't prepared and should have brought bug spray.  As I got closer to the falls, I still hadn't seen one soul yet and the parking lot had at least eight cars in it when I parked.  I was getting worried, maybe people went down but didn't come back up.

There was a part on the trail that you could take to go to the bottom of this waterfall but the sign said to plan for at least 4 hours and DO NOT go this route without water, hiking boots and trail mix.  As I approached it I finally saw a group of three who had made it down and were coming back, they mentioned that if you decided to take THAT route, you were committed.  One way in and One way out.

I made it to the overlook and soaked it all in and headed back thinking that coming up all those stairs on the way to the trail, it surely would be easier going back.  Truth was, it wasn't.  And as I took my time and enjoyed the sounds of quails, blue jays, pilleated woodpeckers, blue mountainbirds and chickadees, I realized that with age, the right thing to do is change our slogans from First and Fast to Slow and Steady.  I finished the trail, survived, lived to tell about it and it wasn't a race....it was another journey.

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