By Morgan Swem

As I walked downstairs wrapped in a fuzzy blanket, I listened to the wooden stairs creek. I popped a chocolate chip waffle in the toaster and gazed out the large window at the multitude of trees that surrounded me.

This is it. I said to myself. My senior spring break. The very last one I will ever have.

I grabbed my waffle as it popped up and headed outside to the deck with my blanket still draped around me. As I sat on the table outside staring at the beauty of North Carolina, thoughts raced through my head.

This was my last spring break with all my college friends. It was possibly the last time I would have an adventure like this. I promised myself it would be wondrous, jam-packed with laughs, memories and adventure.

It was.

My friends and I spent our spring break gallivanting through the Great Smoky Mountains and exploring part of the Appalachian trail. We spent the first half of break in Franklin, North Carolina.

The first day in North Carolina we spent exploring part of the Appalachian trail, which happened by accident, based on Accident Reports VA, because the trail we planned to go on was closed. It ended up being a really good accident.

The portion of the Appalachian trail we embarked on lead us to a valley where you could see mountains from every single side. It was breathtaking. The air was crisp and cold, but the trail was so gorgeous it didn’t matter.

We had packed a lunch and had a picnic on top of the valley in awe of all that surrounded us. The grass had almost a yellow tint to it because it was still winter. The mountain ranges on every side of us looked almost blue.

Though we loved the Appalachian trail, on the second day of the trip we drove through The Great Smokey Mountain National Park. We drove up to a picnic spot near a river and had lunch. It was freezing, windy and raining on and off, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the view. Due to the weather the river looked almost brown, it matched the trees that surrounded it.

After lunch, we embarked on a short trail that took us to an old school house. It was a shorter trail, but it was one of my favorites.

The school house was ancient, but you could still go in it. It had one long chalkboard on the far wall, and a bunch of old wooden desks facing the board. Right across from the school house was a small graveyard you could walk through. There was also a sign that explained the history of the school house.

After leaving the school house we went to Tennessee to Ihop. It was National Pancake Day so we wanted to get free pancakes before returning back to the cabin. It was a great ending to an adventurous day.

The next day we took a day trip to Pigeon Forge. It’s more of a tourist town than anything else. Instead of listening to the sounds of birds and wind, we listened to cars and the voices of people. We grabbed lunch at a local brewery and then went go-karting. It wasn’t my favorite day because it was something that we could do anywhere, but it was still fun.

That night we left the cabin in North Carolina and went to Tennessee.

The next morning we all woke up and had a big breakfast and decided what we wanted to explore in Tennessee. We ended up doing a trail in The Great Smokey Mountains National Park again.

We hiked through Alumni trail. It was a tougher hike, but it was worth it. We got to play in a river and hike through a cave. Since it was sunny, the water was crystal clear. We hopped from rock to rock and weaved through the river. It was freezing, but well worth it. We also got to walk through a cave, which the same river we had played in had carved out many years ago.

On the second to last day of the trip we spent exploring Cades Cove. The views were breathtaking. Cades Cove is a huge circular loop you can drive through with various stops along the way. While driving the loop, we saw deer and a coyote. It was the first time we saw wildlife the entire trip, so I was ecstatic.

We made our first stop at Cades Cove on top of a valley. You could park your car and walk around a huge valley surrounded by mountains on all sides. It was beautiful. We rolled down the hill and then proceeded to get back into the car.

Our second stop at Cades Cove was for a trail. This was hands down my favorite trial. It wasn’t straight up and then straight down like the rest. The hike consisted of various ups, downs, twist and turns. You even had to cross a couple of log bridges to get to the end. The trail ended with a waterfall that was surrounded by rocks and trees. It was beautiful. Once again, we had a packed a lunch to enjoy, but today it seemed even more satisfying.

That night was our last night in Tennessee. We decided we wanted to go eat somewhere different. Some place we don’t normally get to eat at. We ended up a place called Blaine’s. It was hands down my favorite meal of the trip. They had homemade fried chicken, mashed potatoes and even fried ice cream. It was a real southern meal, and it made the perfect ending to a perfect last day of the trip.

The next morning we gathered all of our stuff, packed the car and headed out for the 10 hour drive home.

This is it. I said to myself. My senior spring break has come and gone.

To my surprise, as I sat in the car thinking back at how great this trip had been and how much I loved my friends and how sad I was that it was over, something great happened. The view of the mountains in the distance became almost unnoticeable. The sky was filled with what looked like a light layer of fog.

It was snow.

Snow flurries started falling from the sky. They were almost unnoticeable at first, but they gradually got bigger as we continued driving up the mountain. We stopped at a pull-away to get out and play in the snow.

As we ran around in the snow on the side of the road, I wasn’t sad anymore. I was thankful. I was thankful for my friends and the memories we got to share on my senior spring break.


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