This year Linds and I decided to do something different for Christmas. Although we both absolutely love our families and love spending the holidays with them, we decided to spend this year's Christmas away from the lights of the city and not get caught up in all the complexities of a consumer Christmas. The goal was to escape to a cabin and spend the weekend without television and other worldly distractions. We would spend our time playing in the sunshine and outdoors exploring new sections of the A.T. and surrounding areas. Immersed in the wild with plenty of sunshine for the weekend we spent Christmas Eve day enjoying the wonders of Max Patch. An expansive bald at 4700' with 360 degree views of the Black Mountains, the Smokies and many other mountains. With so many wonderful sights we ran in circles for a bit just enjoying the beautiful views. Eventually we descended the backside of the bald with the Appalachian Trail all to ourselves we ran through some very vegetation rich draws as we followed the stream to Lemon Gap. We passed a couple shelters and enjoyed many other great views.
Looking back now I can say how much better it was being on a trail in the woods together and alone then driving some road as people honk and yell at each other in the name of Christmas trying to get that last ham, or that last video game they procrastinated about buying their child for months on end. Yet while we were on the trail from Max Patch to Yellow Gap without another soul in sight I can honestly say I thought not once about the land of the lost below. I just ran, with Kirra on a personal mission to smell every tree in the woods and Linds by my side we just ran. We talked as we always do but on this day we especially enjoyed being with each other. No more holidays away and across oceans from each other. This one was special and we decided to spend it in the sunshine.
After a great run we spent the evening relaxing and of course eating great food. Christmas day we ate more great food and spent a majority of the day again out in the woods hiking. We embarked to find a lookout tower. Though we never made it there, seems it looked closer than it was which may have been the binoculars, we had a great time again enjoying the solemn quiet woods. There is something truly peaceful about being in the woods not being able to hear passing cars or honking or anything other than the natural sounds of the wild. It was an amazing hike.
After dinner Linds and I decided why not catch the sunset on Max Patch. At 458pm we jumped in the car and drove much much faster than we should have but arrived at the parking area at 515 just as the sun was setting. We jumped from the car and ran like a couple of kids in the wild for the first time. With a very unforgiving hill ahead of us we were instantly reminded of our run the day before. Kirra of course had a blast being back on the bald. With hundreds of yards of grass in all directions, though only 4700', Kirra felt as if she was in heaven, doggy heaven! We made the top to be greeted by a windchill which brought the temp to about 10-15degrees but were welcomed with the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen .
There on the top of Max Patch as the sun set across the Smokies and Tennessee beyond it was hard if not impossible to not gasp in the awesome beauty we stood before. As I stood hand in hand with the only woman I have ever loved and the greatest wife ever, Linds and I shared a special moment. As the sun sank away the sky filled itself with streaks of pink, yellow, orange, purple and many other colors which can all be summed as beautiful!
Was it a traditional Christmas...No. Was it the best Christmas I can ever remember, yes. To spend time in the wild and in the sunshine is to be free. And this past weekend I gained a whole new appreciation for a phrase I have heard a few times. To love is to live in dreams awake! I love the outdoors and I absolutely adore my gorgeous wife. This weekend was a dream yet even though I am awake it has yet to fade.....