I used to know a girlfriend who would panic at the possibility of crossing streams, or climbing over rocks in a way that might lead to broken bones.
She’s not the Yvonne Rogers I took with me to Laurel Falls last March.
We were sitting down below the part of the falls most people see, a bit off the main trail, but still with all the crowds above us.
Yvonne climbed over a rock, held on to a falling tree and grabbed a bottle that had fallen, held in an eddy.
“I didn’t really like being there all that much,” Yvonne tells me now. She still says she doesn’t like being in danger. But that bottle bothered her.
“Here, catch!” she shouted.
And then it tumbled down further. But, thankfully, it landed somewhere more convenient. She climbed down and grabbed it, later shoving it in my backpack.
Laurel Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains, one of many with that name in Tennessee, comes crashing down before a bridge crosses, then it crashes down further.
The path to it is paved, passing mountain views and lichen decorated-rock formations. Orange beetles gathered on them.
The falls is, for Tennessee, very crowded. The crowds are often people of many different ages, races and even languages and to me anyway, part of the place’s charm.
Still, seekers of solitude should keep walking. At least last March, once Yvonne and I passed the falls and climbed up on the dirt trail beyond it, we were alone.
The trail continues into old growth forest full of tall wide trees untouched by any recent ax.
Also near the falls, look out for salamanders. We saw one, briefly. It was brownish and probably a dusky, meaning as stated in my book, I should probably give up on finding the precise species.