About a month ago, I made a spontaneous decision to go on a weekend trip to the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina through a program at my school. Without knowing a single person, nor what to expect when camping in freezing cold weather, I embarked on what would become one of the best weekends of my life.
The group of people I was traveling with consisted of 10 students like myself and 2 trip leaders. Sitting in an 8 hour car ride helped us become fast friends as we shared our past experiences and knowledge with each other.
Our first adventure was hiking 6 miles of the Appalachian Trail to reach Max Patch, a bald patch overlooking miles and miles of beautiful mountains. I have seen a lot of sights in North Carolina and the Smokey Mountains, but I don’t think anything will ever compare to what I saw and how I felt when I reached the top of the patch. The sun was slowly setting and I was staring at what looked like a painting, because it just doesn’t even seem believable that such a sight exists. In that moment I felt so powerful and serene; I could have stayed up there for the rest of my life. The vastness of the mountains was a wonderful reminder that there is so much out there that I have yet to learn anything about, and it made me very appreciative of my life, and excited for what lies ahead of me. All of the small petty problems that we get ourselves so wrapped up in on a day to day basis seemed so meaningless and minuscule when I was standing up there and it made me happy that I am learning to see the big picture more often then I used to.
After an extremely cold night in the tents, our next destination was to Black Balsam. We went on an amazing uphill hike to the top of the mountains and again saw a magnificent view. This was a very enjoyable time for me because the group of us just sat up there for what seemed like forever just talking and sharing stories with one another.
Another extremely special moment was that night; the weather had warmed up a little bit and from our tents you could hear no noise from cars, see no artificial lights, and instead see a view of the sky much like a planetarium setting – only a million times better. All of us took our sleeping bags outside and just laid under the stars to which I stared at for hours and hours. It was one of the most beautiful experiences and witnessing multiple shooting stars in one night was also a plus (hopefully some wishes will come true).
Our last adventure of the weekend began the next morning when we woke up at 4 am in order to go in a sunrise hot air balloon. As we were waiting in a huge field, my heart was pounding with excitement as the balloons with brilliant colors were being blown up. Sailing in that balloon was incredible; the view of the world from that little basket was definitely a perspective you cannot experience anywhere else.
This weekend couldn’t have been more perfect even if I tried. I made amazing friends, gained even more of an appreciation for nature, learned some new things about myself, and took risks!