Hiking the Smoky Mountains Leads Me to ‘Wild Ark’

I live fairly close to the Smoky Mountains and get out there once or twice a month. During the busy season when all the tourists come out I go to a book of hiking trails to find ones that are a little deeper inside the park and won’t have very many people on them. I go hiking into the woods to get away from everything and that includes people. I do a mental imagery thing of just feeling a breeze and the idea of the tree branches gently pulling away all the crap in my head that’s causing worry or anger. I know it all be there when I get of the trail but it’s not an escape; its a way to relax and let go so I can recharge and re-energize and then go back and take on my world and all of it’s so-called problems.


One thing that drives me nuts is seeing garbage on some of the trails. Millions of people visit the smoky mountains because it’s on the eastern seaboard near a lot of people compared to many of the parks that are way out in the middle of nowhere. At times 10 million people will visit these mountains in one year. So do the math; if 1% of 10 million people, that’s one out of a hundred, drop a candy bar wrapper thinking it’s no big deal that’s 100,000 candy bar wrappers.


So I’ll grab crap on the trail and then empty my pockets when I get to the parking lot. One time as I was doing this someone came up and starting doing the exact same thing. I started laughing and said, “It drives you nuts to, huh?” Then we started talking and I mentioned about watching and learning and leaving ‘Undisturbed’ and he mentioned it reminded him of a website he stumbled onto with a mission statement: Experience, learn and protect.


I checked it out at http://wildark.com/our-story, and they want to protect important areas where there is not only an abundance of wildlife and plant life but areas where there is a specific environment that is almost gone.


Yet the two people that created Wild Ark, Mark and Sophie Hutchinson, seem to understand something I found really interesting when I overheard an argument about zoos while standing in line at the grocery store. While animals are in cages at the zoo, without a zoo how many people in this country would know anything about the nature and animals being destroyed on a consistent basis every year? And how would they appreciate it and feel the loss?


‘Wild Ark Our Story’ is focused on “… for people to reconnect with nature and to become inspired to protect it.” It’s tough because how do you really experience nature without compromising it somehow? Without interfering at all? It’s tough to do and a never ending struggle but that’s where they put their time and energy and what they have focused their lives on.


Follow Wild Ark on Instagram.