Thursday, May 3, 2012

It's ALL In The Details!

Beech Gap Trail - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
May 1, 2012

Yes, those pesky details can make a huge difference in outcomes.  I was reminded of that in a most vivid way on Tuesday.  My last day of hiking in the Smokies before leaving on our Summer Trip Adventure was another opportunity to hike with my friends, Judi and Gene plus the chance to introduce them to a hiking friend of mine.  The trail we chose involved a short shuttle between trailheads and was an 8.1 mile hike which NONE of us had done previously.  For anyone interested, here's an account by one of my favorite hiking bloggers of the hike we planned.  We got on the trail at 9:40 a.m. and immediately began climbing.  And climbing.......and climbing!   It got hotter.   And hotter.....and more humid!  It was 2.5 miles to our first trail junction and after what seemed like ten miles of, you guessed it, CLIMBING, we popped out at a lovely junction of trails.  Only problem WASN'T where we were supposed to be! 

Yep, it's all in the details!  Within the more than 900 miles of official trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are a few trails with the same name.  There are also a few with a designation of Trailhead Name I and Trailhead Name II.  Yesterday, our trail was to begin on Beech Gap II.  Problem is, Beech Gap Trailhead is just a few hundred yards from Beech Gap II and this is in one of my least familiar areas of the park.  But when we popped out at the trail junction, both my friend and I knew pretty quickly that we'd been here before and that it wasn't where we were supposed to be.  Only took a couple of seconds to realize what we'd done - problem was, none of knew exactly HOW we'd done it.  Or how we'd missed the trailhead for the Beech Gap II trail.  After taking a lengthy break to eat and discuss options, we simply chose to turn around and retrace our steps making it a five mile day instead.  But it was a hard-earned five miles on a hot, humid day which threatened thunderstorms, yet never did.  Thankfully, this section was new trail for all of us, so we each got to mark 2.5 miles of new trail off our maps indicating DONE!! And it is always enjoyable to be hiking with friends!

The details???  After returning to our car, we retraced our steps and found that we had, indeed, passed the trailhead to the Beech Gap II trail back down the road and across a bridge EXACTLY WHERE THE GUIDES SAY IT IS!!

The lessons???   (And there are many)

1)  Of the four of us, ONE should've noticed the trailhead sign said Beech Gap, NOT Beech Gap II.  One of us should've also noticed the distances listed below the trailhead name were NONE of the places we THOUGHT we were heading.  Technically, it should've been me because I'm the one who suggested this particular hike and I'm the one who took the picture of the other three behind the sign, so I looked at it longer.  LOL!   We were talking, anxious to get started and simply distracted.  Another time, another setting, it was a mistake that could've had major consequences!  

2)  However, we all realized that the PRIMARY reason we missed the correct trailhead is that on the narrow, gravel, park road, we met a park ranger on a tractor for whom we had to pull over and wait until he passed.   Guess what?   That happened at the exact moment we passed the trailhead sign!  The sign and the trailhead were completely obscured by the tractor.  Once he passed, I drove on!

3)  This would never have happened had the two trail names not been so similar.  As I've already said, this is not the only instance of similar trails names within the park.




Speaking of details, here are a few I've missed...................

1)  When Debby was here last week, she presented me with a beautiful quilt that she had made specifically for me!  And I have been remiss in not thanking her publicly for it.  One side was made to look like the mountains which mean so much to me and the other side is a unique pattern with my favorite verse of scripture on it.  Probably to no one's surprise, that verse is Psalm 121:1, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help."  Debby had no idea that was my favorite verse, but out of the 31,100+ verses in the Bible, she chose that one to put on my quilt!  I will treasure it along with the memories of her visit forever!

2)  A gentle reminder if you haven't done so me with my Friend In Every State goal.  Read details under the tab along the top of the blog.  Now that I've started this, I really want to reach the goal!   So far, 21 states, 2 provinces and 1 European country are "officially" documented.  Let me know if you are reading.  This insatiable traveler's mind wants to know where you are!

3)  My posts are often long.   Too long..........I know!  And I've tried to shorten them.   And I'll keep trying!  One thing I've tried hard to do is make them easy to read.  If the print is too small, here's a trick which might help.   Press ctrl + and the print will enlarge.  You can make the print as large as you want.  The reverse also works (ctrl - ) reducing the size of the print.

4)  And one more detail..........I wrote about Word Verification here.  Many bloggers still have this feature enabled and commenting continues to be frustrating because the double words are so difficult to read.  I think many of you enabled it when you set up your blog and may not even realize it is still functioning.  Many bloggers have said they will no longer comment on blogs with this feature.  I am not going to do that, but I won't try more than twice.  Please check in your settings and turn it off! It serves no useful purpose.

Have you missed any details this week?



  1. You are going to be near me when you visit VT, by the way :)

    I think that whomever sets up these parks and trails should have a bit more creativity than to name them the same thing over and over. I mean, COME ON! There are so many beautiful and descriptive words that could be used to make them unique! I have the same problem when there are multiples of the same road (as there are out here, fair warning, some of them are even in the same town, but are completely different roads. For example, if you have a "School House Rd" in ANY of your destinations, it's important to pull it up online and make sure it's the right one. Apparently they named every road with a school on it that, no matter if it's been gone for 100 years. You have a 90% chance of ending up on the wrong one!)

    I hate that word verification. I made sure it was off the first time around, but I just double checked to make sure. ;)

  2. Details and good plans--very important to me!! That wouldn't be the first time an important roadsign was missed being blocked by a larger vehicle!

    Thanks for reminding people about the pesky word verification. Although I have to admit to a certain perverse pleasure when I actually get it right on the first try-- "I win again!"

  3. Aw, sorry you guys missed your trailhead! I agree they could be a bit more unique in naming the trails. I have a "love/hate" relationship with the name Sweat Heifer Trail... the first time I came upon it while heading out to the Boulevard via the AT, I instinctively flipped off the sign as it was summer time, and I sure was sweating...ha!

  4. I never think of you posts as too long:) Of course, I'm rather long-winded myself. I once read a tip that if you increased the size of your font on your blog you'd actually increase your readership. I haven't tried it. Yours looks fine to me. Have a wonderful trip!

  5. From one long poster to another, don't change a thing! I love your posts, Sharon, as well as your photos. I have the same tendency to write longer posts most of the time.

    As far as details - they say the devil is in the details. I don't know about that, but I do know they can be important in ways we can't imagine until we miss them.

  6. I agree with you, details are indeed vital. My cousin got married last April 21st. The preparation was a short 3 months since she and her husband were both busy working and forgot to include important details to make it organized. They had a garden wedding at 4pm. Everyone came early, not wanting to miss the vows. To our surprise, the wedding was moved at 6pm due to the very humid weather. Everyone was frustrated when they were given a short notice about this.

    Good luck with your future hikes, Ms Sharon. I admire your determination to further lose more pounds. God bless :) Farida

  7. Been there--done that!!!! It is all about the details for sure!!!! We've made lots of wrong turns at times!!!! Makes for some interesting hikes for sure!!!

    I have found that some people don't even know that they have word verification on... Most of them are new --and good ole Blogger has it as a default for some strange reason.. I will ask each person personally ---if I decide to follow them--to take it off. Many will write and ask HOW since so many don't have a clue about Blogger and how things are done... SO--my advice: ASK THEM personally.


  8. Your posts are as long as you need them to be when you hit publish, so go ahead and write!

    Details are important, that is for sure.

    (that word verification thing is really annoying, but since my blog sends extra comments out, I don't feel like I can complain about someone else's LOL!)

  9. Hi there, Sharon. Oh, yes...I can definitely relate to this as we've had a number of little trail glitches ourselves. But, of course, the wonderful thing is that we've always ended up having a lovely ramble anyway, even if we end up somewhere we hadn't planned to be. Sounds like things turned out well for you, too!

    Thanks so much for visiting my blog. I've enjoyed so much reading about your journey---both your physical ones (all those lovely hikes!) and your journey of the spirit. I was excited to read about your Summer Adventure---it sounds just wonderful. Happy Trails to you and your husband!

    P.S. To answer your question about our hiking: I do hope someday we'll be able to return to longer hiking, especially since we've recently discovered just how helpful hiking poles can be! Right now, we're sticking to 2 or 3-mile hikes. We just had a beautiful walk up Whiteside Mountain and enjoyed it immensely.

  10. I certainly have! I missed a mandatory meeting in Knoxville for first time high school parents. I'm just sick about it! It seems I'm missing more details these days than ever before. What's up with that? Age, absent-mindednes, what? Whatever the reason, I headed off to Office Max and purchased a simple day-timer for my purse to help me in this area.

    Another detail I've been neglecting is getting my glasses replaced. I need bifocals badly. Thanks for the Control+ tip. It helped!