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THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK

East Tennessee and western North Carolina have long been favorite destinations for many thousands of motorcycle riders each year. This park is actually the most visited National Park in the nation, with an estimated 10,000,000 visitors per year. For those who have ridden here, no explanation is necessary. For those that have not, you need to add this area to your "must see" list of places to visit. Then you too will understand why we return time and time again.

In this modern-day world of rush and stress, for many their everyday life is a health-hazard. Too much stress and pressure can cause ulcers and a variety of other health problems. For me, a trip to the mountains is a better stress reliever than any prescription a doctor could write. Seems I'm not the first to feel that way. In 1898, naturalist John Muir wrote, "Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find that going to the mountains is going home."

The misty blue-gray clouds, for which these mountains are named, occur naturally as a result of great quantities of evaporating moisture. The Park's moderate climate makes it home to a large variety of animal and plant life. When planning a trip to these mountains, keep in mind that elevations range from 875 feet to 6,643 feet, and that elevation change can drastically affect weather conditions. Temperatures can easily vary 10-20 degrees between the valleys and the mountain tops. It is highly advisable to bring warm clothing regardless of the time of year you visit.

As early as 1650 A.D., this area was known to be home to the Cherokee Indians. For Cherokees, these mountains have meant a refuge, a homeland, and a mythical and spiritual foundation for their people. During the "Indian Removal Period" of the 1800's, better known as the Trail of Tears, the mountains meant safety from pursuing soldiers. Today these mountains provide a refuge and offer inspiration for visitors from around the world.

According to Cherokee beliefs, "they carefully got all the mud and laid it out on the rocks, and when it was dry enough grandfather threw it out into the water, and it became land, and the buzzard flew with his great wings. Each time his wings went down, it would make a great valley, and each time the wings would go up, it would make a big mountain." This was taken from Living Stories of the Cherokee, 'How the World was Made', by Kathi Smith Littlejohn.

Inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Clingman's Dome is a sacred mountain to the Cherokees where the Magic Lake was once seen. The Great Spirit told the Cherokees, "If they love me, if they love all their brothers and sisters, and if they love the animals of the earth, when they are old and sick, they can come to the Magic Lake and be made well again."

Come share the love and the healing that these mountains offer.

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