As I prepared to set up my display at the conference, I had a few hours to spare so I headed back to the park. Once again I was greeted by a large sign stating that all park roads were closed. The road was open to the visitors center, so I stopped in to see a map and decide if I could walk the road to a nearby trailhead. The gentleman at the desk told me that Cades Cove was open so I told him I had been there yesterday and was looking for something at this end of the park that was shorter than the 10 miles I hiked yesterday. He then began to show me some options, including the trail to Laurel Falls. I was slightly confused because the options he was showing me were all along Little River Road, which I thought was closed — it had been yesterday. As I asked about it, he said it that road was open all the way from Gatlinburg to Townsend. I was thankful but I guess their definition of all park roads is somewhat different than mine. 🙂
The Laurel Falls trail is the one I was hoping to take, so a short drive from the visitors center found me with boots laced up and ready to hike. At the beginning, and all along the trail, were various warnings about the dangers of hiking, of this particular trail, and of wildlife. I really didn’t pay much attention to them because I had hiked this trail before and my intent was to hike it again. As I hiked, I began to think about how often we tend to ignore the warnings found in God’s Word. We live life as we wish, convinced nothing can happen to us because the consequences of God’s warnings haven’t been experienced before. When we read God’s Word, instead of obedience our response is often similar to that of Satan in the garden — “Did God really say?”. We spend so much time explaining away the warnings that we miss the entire point of God trying to protect us.
After the round trip hike to the falls and back, I drove the length of Little River Road to enjoy the beauty of the park and take a few more pictures. When I returned back to the Gatlinburg area, it was time for lunch so I stopped at Subway and then went to a small park next to my hotel to enjoy the sights and sounds of the creek running along the edge of the park. I found a large rock in the middle of the creek and sat on it for a while, relaxing and spending time with God in the midst of this peaceful place. The rest of the day was spent at the conference getting set up and then talking with people about the prayer ministry and the resources God has allowed me to make available. It was fun sharing the story of my books writing and giving God all of the credit for both giving me the gifting in my life and giving me the opportunity to use it.