When I was in the seventh grade, our class went on a field trip to Cherokee, North Carolina. The trip lasted four days and three nights, but the adventure would last a lifetime. The experience allowed me to learn many things about myself and to reflect on the beauty that was all around me. We departed at six-thirty in the morning, and I was so excited. I had never been away on a school trip for longer than a few hours. I tossed my purple duffel bag into the storage compartment, found my seat by the window, and prepared for what I knew would surely be an unforgettable adventure.
When we finally arrived in the mountains, it was breathtaking. They were covered with trees, and the clouds floating over them were so beautiful. I looked down and saw valleys of flowers that went on forever. I was so anxious to get off the bus and roll in the grass with the clear, blue sky above my head.
The bus came to a halt, and one by one we filed out into a parking lot. We grabbed our canteens and began the one-mile trail to the top of one of the mountains. I was one of the first people to reach the peak, and waiting for us was a notebook. We opened it to find the names of everyone who has ever reached the peak. I smiled to myself as I wrote in big letters “Kim Walton” and started back down the mountain. It was much easier and faster than going up, and everyone was really excited to see where we were going next.
When we arrived at the Best Western, everyone grabbed his/her suitcases, quickly tucking them into the rooms as the candy shop across the street drew us in like moths to a flame. Afterwards, we went back to our rooms, put on our bathing suits, and went for a late-night swim under the stars. It was so cold, but we did not mind it because we were having so much fun. Later we went back to our rooms and went to sleep. Our next day would surely be packed with action and adventure.
The next morning, we went to Alpine Tower: a seventy-five feet high vertical structure that is designed to help you work with others and test your physical strength as well as your bravery, motivation, and problem-solving strategies. Equipped with helmets, harnesses, and ropes, we took our places around the tower and prepared for the first person to go up. When it finally got to my turn, I climbed onto a log and started to work my way to the top. When I finally reached the peak, I walked over to the edge and strapped myself to a rope. As I got closer to the side, I could see how high up I was, so I turned around backwards and did a backflip off the tower. Everyone screamed, but I was flying. Nothing was holding me down; I felt so free. The rope kept swinging in every direction and finally came to a stop where I was helped down with a ladder.
Later that day, our tour group decided to whitewater rafting. We suited up and carried the gear down to the river where four rafts were waiting for us. We were traveling down the Nantahala River, which winds through the valleys of the Appalachian Mountains. The water was calm at first, so our guide began telling us a story about the Cherokee Indians. Looking around us, we could see caves where the Indians hid during their escape from the Pilgrims. The journey is known as the Trail of Tears. My great grandmother is a Cherokee Indian, so I was interested in the stories that were being told. After the rafting expedition was over, we put on dry clothes and went back to the hotel for the night.
Our group wanted to use the remainder of the trip wisely, so we rode to a diamond mine the next day to pan for gemstones. Before we sat down with the pans, my friend Sean and I rode the chairlift to the top of the mountain. We could see Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia all from one standpoint. On the way down, we took pictures of the mountain goats eating the grass. I settled down on a bench with a bucket of dirt and a straining pan in my hands. After hours of pouring and swishing, I gathered a nice collection of gems, including rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and amethysts.
I woke up extra early the next day to pack my things up and to clean the hotel room. Everyone was sleepy, so we took short naps on the bus until we arrived at the Appalachian Trail. The hike was 8.3 miles long, so we had all day to spend taking pictures. I decided to use this time alone to think about the past three days. I looked down at the valleys of flowers and realized that I was standing in the clouds. I felt so close to God; it was amazing! After hours of climbing up and down the mountains, we finally reached the end of our trail. We returned to the bus and drove back to Myrtle Beach.
I learned more about myself while I was in North Carolina. I discovered that whatever life throws at me, I will be prepared to face it head on. I realized that the things most important to me are Jesus and taking care of myself as well as caring for others. When something is holding me down, I learned that sometimes it is best to just turn around backwards and do a backflip away from my troubles. Only God knows what will happen to me, but I cannot be afraid of falling or else I will never know what it is like to fly.