By Ben Bailey
The older I get and the more time I spend in the woods, the more I’m continuously inspired and awed by what I see and experience. I’ve seen bear and deer, rattlesnakes and copperheads, wild hogs, and coyote. I’ve seen and held in my arms a 28-inch beautiful brown trout. I have seen beautiful sunrises and sunsets that took my breath away. I’ve seen majestic waterfalls spanned by rainbows in the mist. I’ve seen patches of wildflowers that would rival the finest English garden and I have stood on the lofty heights of Clingman’s Dome watching the craggy heads of mountains poking up through the white linen blankets that covers the valley early in the morning before the sun melts it away.
I’ve been serenaded by the whippoorwill in spring evenings and been brought to tears by the song of the wood thrush after a summer storm. I’ve been lulled to sleep by the sound of water running over rock and been awakened by the crackle of a campfire and the gentle sound of friends talking and laughing.
But I was unprepared for what I witnessed on a June evening last summer. Some friends and I were camping in an undisturbed and remote location in the North Carolina mountains. We had all gone hiking up the creek to fish, and I’d stopped to change my lure. When I finished and looked around, I didn’t see my companions. It was almost lunch time, so I thought they had returned to camp, so I made my way back down the creek.
When I got to camp, I was surprised to see we had company. At least twelve horses and at least twelve people, six of whom were women…very attractive women I might add…and did I mention they were all wearing bikinis? They’d removed their saddles and were riding their horses bare back…and no I was not drunk or high. I assumed they were cooling their horses down before they let them drink from the creek. I guess the bikinis were for the same purpose.
Now I am a happily married man, so I must tread lightly here, even to the point of how I remember this. After pondering a bit, I came to see it this way. When I see beautiful sunrises or sunsets or an awesome waterfall, I don’t want to see any trash or clutter. I want it to be clean and pure and I want other people to enjoy it just as I have. The same goes with beautiful women on beautiful horses in beautiful places. I want to remember it pure and clean. I will have to admit as far as the bikinis, less is definitely more. Thanks, girls, for adding a bit more beauty to an already beautiful place.
Ben Bailey, is a native of Western North Carolina, Master Carpenter, Avid Angler, and Naturalist.