"There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. The parks stand as the outward symbol of this great human principle."
—Franklin Delano Roosevelt
President of the United States, 1933-45
I've heard that there is still quite a bit of bear activity around the Trillium Gap, Rainbow Falls and Bullhead Trails to LeConte. As of Friday afternoon, all the trails remain open.
In keeping with the Independence Day theme, we had a young guest last weekend who would have done Paul Revere proud. He was so excited about the impending arrival of the llamas that he buzzed around exclaiming, "The llamas are coming! The llamas are coming!"
In an interesting historical note, besides Paul Revere, there were other riders dispatched to carry the news that night. Unlike the others who evaded capture, Paul Revere was the only one caught by the British, but they didn't know what to do with him and soon released him. In an odd twist, Revere is remembered to this day, but the riders who were successful were assigned to the dustbin of history.
Today during crew lunch we had an interesting group of folks sitting around the table at the top of Tennessee. Frequent hiker Larry hiked a wonderful, sweet (and heavy) watermelon up as an Independence Day treat. We were joined by another German-born lady in her 50s, who celebrates her 28th year in America tomorrow. She brought us some real German chocolate. We were eating a Greek rice dish for lunch. We had some overnight guests who hailed from the other side of the International Date Line.
Most of us around the table were Southerners by birth, some with relatives who fought for the Confederacy against the United States. In 2014, it's possible for all of us to sit down for a friendly visit over a glass of sweet tea at the crest of Appalachia in a beautiful national park set aside for all people. That's something we should never take for granted. It's a wonderful country. Happy trails and happy Independence Day.