November 3, 2022
Old Settlers Trail is steeped in history and much has been written and documented about this trail over the years. Foremost among those is the tremendous book, History Hikes of the Smokies by Michal Strutin, who meticulously and with great wit writes about the families that once lived along this beautiful area.
While I cannot add to that work, what I can write about is my friend, Perry Eury. He joined me on this long hike, and it was a pleasure. Perry is a renaissance man. He has accomplished so much, learned so much and has so much knowledge that every hike is akin to a mountain apprenticeship. I walk along, learning and listening to his wisdom. I take away so much more than I give.
Perry will often stop to show me a plant, giving both the name (customary, colloquial, and Latin). It is not done in a “hey, look how smart I am way”, but very much in a joyous encounter with nature that is shown off like a prized possession.
We started early in the morning, leaving a car at the Greenbrier entrance and drove to Maddron Bald. As we walked, we joked, laughed, and talked about the history of the region. While he shares, he also listens with a judge’s attention to your stories, parsing words and meanings. We marveled at the walls and chimneys constructed 150 years ago.
At campsite #33, we stopped for lunch, and I read Strutins’ book, which Perry brought. The afternoon was quieter as our legs tired. Soon we finished Old Settlers and walked 3.1 miles back to the car.
As I reflect on my many hikes with Perry over the years, I’ve had the thought that one day they will end. Not for many years, but one day. His knowledge is tremendous, and I hope that I am able to give to others as he has given to me.
Total mileage is 19.8 miles.