Journal: Week 1--Status Update
11 September 2017
I’ve been learning a lot lately: about myself, my needs, how much isolation I can soundly endure. Emotional and social needs aren’t typically thought about in comfortable situations, but I learned a thing or two about my safety needs when trying to find a camping spot in the backwoods of western South Carolina. I haven’t mentioned it on here before, but I am queer. And I would imagine that to certain people, I would appear unsettlingly queer. It may not be fair to assume that someone in the South is homophobic, but you never know someone’s intentions at first glance. I also don’t know what country areas are going to be extremely unwelcoming to strangers. Staying safe in the unfamiliar South can be a complicated endeavor—just be welcoming when you meet someone that welcomes you.
The second, main destination was The Smokey Mountains. Searching for any sort of isolation there during the Summer—even the late Summer—is damn near impossible. Every road has lines of vehicles, primarily suburban families and motorcyclists, weaving their way up and down the mountains. No path is untouched and every scenic destination has someone else there. That’s not always a bad things, but the beauty of a setting sun over Appalachia is at least somewhat tainted by the distant screams of a crying child. Beauty is best shared among people who can comprehend that beauty.
I decided to sleep in the parking lot on top of Clingman’s Dome, the highest point above sea level in the state of Tennessee. Unsurprisingly, it was cold but easily tolerated under a few blankets. My car was kept company by a handful of empty cars, people who had parked there to backpack on the Appalachian Trail. I would join them if I had more time to spare and if I were better adjusted to high altitudes (some of the trails I walked were some of the hardest I have ever walked because of the altitude). I awoke to the sun beaming through the cracks of my window covers.
Words cannot properly describe the feeling of being so high up so early in the morning. For a moment, I was above the clouds. The orange hue in the sky turned to yellow turned white as the birds started their morning songs. It was some kind of spiritual experience—that’s for sure. Serenity. And next to that serenity was a man, crouching beside his tripod, attempting to get the perfect shot but always falling short compared to the beauty his naked eye could’ve been looking at.
Currently, I’m in Charlotte, North Carolina. More accurately, I’m in the southern Charlotte metro area, a crowded suburb mostly. I’ll be spending a couple days here waiting out the rain caused by the residual leftovers of Hurricane Irma, and afterwards I’ll be pushing eastward towards the coastline. Hopefully I can get some decent camping and nature in before I hit Raleigh.
In the past, I always lumped North and South Carolina together in my head, but by driving through them I realize that they’re a lot different. South Carolina seems a lot more boondock-y while North Carolina seems to have a lot more money in it. But who knows? Maybe that will all change once I hit the East Coast.
#writing #journal #natural_beauty
Photo: Morning on top of Clingman's Dome in The Smokey Mountains, TN