|Alex Cole cabin at the Jim Bales homesite on Roaring Fork, Great Smoky Mountains N.P. Photo by Rex McDaniel|
Gatlinburg is my hometown, Baskins Creek my natal waters. My heart hurts for family, friends that have lost so much. I lost nothing material but may have lost everything memorable.
I went to Pi Beta Phi located beside Arrowmont. My boyhood home is a short walk from both of these and walk it I often did. I graduated from Gatlinburg-Pittman High School, lived in the fun, resort town for years, walked up and down the Parkway, Reagan Drive, Airport and River Roads more times than I could possible, possible estimate. Hiked the trails around and below in the foothills of LeConte and the creek that bears its name many, many times. My family's roots go back to the 1880s and the watersheds of Roaring Fork and Baskins. Ancestral cabins are maintained by the park service. Yesterday's fury of fire storms were reported in all of these places. At this point, no one quite knows what is left.
Governor Haslam said it was the worst fire in Tennessee in the past 100 years. Did I just hear that or is it all a bad dream? What do you say when a piece of you is forcibly removed?
My worries and heartfelt prayers to all of my family and friends that still live in my mountain home.
One man's life can last decades, but parts of it are oh so ephemeral.
God bless you all.
- Photo by Rex McDaniel