Great Smokey Mountains National Park

There is a sense of timelessness when standing looking out over the Mountains rolling away into the distance. They seem like they go on forever. It is with a deep sense of awe I contemplate the scene before me every time the Vista opens up or I come to an overlook on one of my many hikes. I feel the tug on my roots and the Mountain air smells and tastes like home. It is hard to imagine the mountains being subject to the same forces that dictate our daily lives. They seem so large, so permanent, so solid and yet a study of their history details many changes.

From Paleo Indians to the Cherokee, indigenous peoples tended to live more in harmony with the natural world. Co-existing with nature, living on the fruits of the land, hunting, trading and practicing early agriculture, groups would build villages near streams and rivers where the fertile land provided. They roamed the mountains and valleys and left their mark on the land. Early settlers were more inclined to cultivate the land in larger swathes and they cut the trees to build houses and fences and changed the landscape with their activities. Thriving communities grew in the foothills and in the hollers. Remnants of these communities can be seen in the buildings preserved by the National Park.

There was money to be made in the mountains. The loggers came and the giant old trees fell to the saw. Great logging camps sprang up all around the Smokies. My own grandfather worked on a logging crew. The terrain changed. When people began to realize what was being lost to the advance of civilization, efforts were made to preserve the land. The Great Smokey Mountains is the most biodiverse park in the National Park system, according to articles on the NPS webpage. The number and variety of plants, animals, fungi and other organisms is extraordinary. With the effort to protect this environment the formation of the National Park changed this land once again.

My grandfather went from logging to working for the CCC to build the trail system that I enjoy today. When that ended, he went to work on Douglas Dam and settled in Jefferson County. Change…it marks us and defines us from generation to generation. If you consider where you are now and where you have been you can see how change has brought you here.

The Neanderthal were victims of change. Their species evolved to survive in a certain climate and when it changed the effects were devastating. Change can affect each of us the same way. If we fail to adapt to change it can indeed be devastating. Looking back over my life, some changes were sought after and the effects expected. Other changes came unexpectedly and turned my world upside down. When this happened I had to decide to pick myself back up and make the best of what I had left.

Starting a business is a big change for me. I have never done anything like this and it is intimidating even as it challenges me to bring my best efforts to bear. I look forward to the changes it will bring as it grows and thrives. None of us have ultimate control over our lives, there are too many variables that affect us, too many interlocking pieces upon which we have little or no control. Each person we interact with, each task we do, every place we go, they all affect us and none are static. It is my desire that those who interact with me leave me with something positive to show.

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