I called it the “dam trip,” and dragged my husband along. Labor Day didn’t mean we had to work–me at my computer writing and Robert in his garden gardening–and besides, the day held the promise of perfect weather. Temperature in the seventies, cloudless sky, and a slight breeze all indicated to me it was time to do something in nature. Kayaking was out because of some back pain for Robert. The next best thing? A dam drive in the Smokies.
Three major dams in western North Carolina provide power for the TVA all within forty miles of one another. The drive took us through towering mountains as the road hugged the shores streams, rivers, and lakes. But one stop at Yellow Creeks Falls did more to restore my faith and hope in mankind than viewing breathtaking vistas.
We hadn’t brought our walking sticks for hiking, something we always do here in the mountains. We started out on the short hike to the small falls, and the path was rocky and narrow. A young couple came toward us, and I pulled up next to a tree to let them pass. He carried a walking stick, and I said. “I wish I’d brought my walking stick,” and nodded to his.
“Here–take this one,” the young man said.
“No, no. That’s fine.” I was sorry I’d made my thought public.
“No,” he insisted, “I don’t need it anymore. It’s yours. I just made it.”
He handed it to me. The stick had been stripped of its bark with one end sharpened into a point. Then he walked on leaving me with his work of art and a much appreciated implement for me to use on the rest of the hike.
Nothing on our dam trip came close to inspiring me more than one young man’s kindness on the waterfall trail. I brought the stick home. It will be my reminder to pay it forward at every opportunity.
The dam trip renewed me. The young man whose path crossed mine gave more than just a piece of wood he found near the Yellow Creek Falls.