Not all mountains were created equal? The Rockies, the Ozarks, and the Smokies, just to mention a few, all have unique qualities bringing delight to every hiker, backpacker or day walker. Packed away in my bottomless pit of a brain are memories that resurface when I recall a name of mountain range.
Ozarks, the name brings to mind sunshine peeking through green leafed trees. Gently curving roads and small towns popping up out of nowhere. Quilts hanging over porch railings or from clotheslines, rippling in the breeze.
My folks left Colorado to retire in Arkansas with another couple. While visiting them we traveled through the Ozarks. This wasn’t my first visit, but it was the most memorable. The people who dwell in the mountain communities are warm, friendly and exhibit wonderful southern hospitality. Every small town has a country store and their beautiful hand crafted items, unique to their area are displayed proudly. We went to Eureka Springs where they put on the unforgettable “Passion Play” set in an outdoor amphitheater. Sitting under the stars, and listening to the night sounds, we watched the greatest story ever told which made me feel that much closer to heaven.
Smoky Mountains conjures up a bright blue sky with wispy bluish haze drifting through the treetops. The vapor shrouds the trees in mystery as the landscape waits to discovery. I wonder what the explorers thought when they first saw it.
In one part of the movie Forrest Gump, they filmed him running up a zigzag road,
making its way up Grandfather Mtn. I had the “opportunity” to hike up Grandfather Trail. That was the scariest trail I have ever climbed. No manicured trails, but plenty of roots and rocks to twist my ankle. There were ropes to pull myself up steep inclines and ladders nailed to boulders to climb down. No handrails and no other way down unless I went back to the root and rocks which was several hours one-way. Never again! Unlike the Rockies, the trees are not Pine, but Hickory, Maple, Birch and a few other varieties. The beauty of different shades of green was breathtaking and I took plenty of those breathes, some scenes even took my breath away, such as swinging your body over to a ladder, looking down and seeing only the tree tops.
I’ve spent most of my time traipsing through the Rockies. From skiing, hiking, backpacking, whitewater rafting on the Colorado River and plain ole sightseeing, I’ve covered the whole range and in my opinion they are the most accessible of all the ranges.
Memories of feeling the cold frosty air as I breathe in. The quiet of the morning when the only sound is the soft whir of the chair lift. The sun dazzling like diamonds off the fresh powder as it passes beneath me. The last run of the day soaked in shadows making the terrain more treacherous and hoping I make it down in one piece.
Memories of throwing my backpack on and taking to trail away from all civilization, just to return to tell of the quiet beauty of the living forest. I don’t miss living in Denver, the cold or the snow, but I get homesick for my Rocky Mountains.