I went to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the first time this September. I didn't know any of the trails, so I asked a park ranger what she would recommend. After a long drive down a gravel road, I finally came upon the area she mentioned. As I started down the path searching for a sign for the trail I was looking for, I came upon this sign first. I loved what it said and made a mental note to explore this Quiet Walkway when I had done the other trail first. I finally found a different sign with three different trail names, one of which was the trail I was looking for. There was an arrow pointing in one direction for these three trails, but it was crossed off by someone and an arrow pointing in the opposite direction was drawn on, so I headed in that direction instead. The whole time I kept thinking this trail doesn't seem as difficult as I thought it would be. I couldn't tell how long it was or where exactly it ended though.
Now, I have a pretty good sense of direction and from what I saw on the map, I expected this trail to end up on top of a bluff. I was really looking forward to the view from there too. I kept going further looking for some kind of indication as to where this trail went. I finally resolved to just enjoy where I was and occasionally stopped along the way to take in the river that ran alongside the trail. I was a little frustrated, but kept reminding myself that the whole point of this trip was to relax and take things as they came without any kind of schedule.
I still couldn't see a trail end in sight, so I decided to turn around and head back the way I came and explore this Quiet Walkway instead. Again, no clear signs as to where this walkway started, so I went one way that seemed to be a beaten path, but it quickly came to a dead end. I turned around and went back to this sign and read it again. I finally realized that the trail I had been on the whole time was this quiet walkway and I had managed to do exactly what the sign encouraged quite naturally.
It's funny how blind we can become when we think something should look a certain way or be in a certain place. It was a good lesson for me to stop trying to figure things out all the time and simply take in the beauty of where I am.