The Ultimate Pioneering Adventure: Cumberland Gap National Park
Cumberland Gap National Park was the last stop before arriving home in Kansas. My plan was to camp the night here which sort of worked. We got about halfway through the night before the weather got a little bit too severe to safely camp so we ended up hitting the road a little early. But such is the adventure of summertime camping.
This was the stop I was most excited for. The history behind the Cumberland Gap runs deep and was critical to the development of America. The Cumberland Gap is known as the first gateway to the West and is a narrow pass through the Appalachian Mountains on the borders of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee. Native American tribes following herds of bison, pioneers including Daniel Boone, and soldiers on both sides during the Civil War all crossed this threshold to the American West. It was for these reasons that I wanted to come here and meditate over those who have come before me on this very pass.
When I arrived at Cumberland Gap, the first thing I did was drive up to the pinnacle overlook. I parked at the top of the mountain and began to walk the rest of the way up to the overlook. When I got up to the top, I removed my shoes so that I could touch the ground that so many Native Americans and pioneers had crossed before me. I breathed in the mountain air and reveled at the fact that I was taking the same journey, probably for many of the same reasons at the pioneers before me. I couldn’t believe that, of all the times I had made this drive, I had never bothered to come and stop here.
Especially after making it through my husband’s nine month deployment, this moment was especially sweet. It was as if I had literally and figuratively reached the hardest point. Driving down the mountain again, I felt lighter. Like I was not only driving downhill, but I was coasting my way back to my best friend.
The view from the Pinnacle Overlook is absolutely incredible.
I also made a friend while I was out here!
As part of this trip, I also discovered why the Great Smoky Mountains are called the Great Smoky Mountains.
I’ll never forget the hours I spent at Cumberland Gap and the park is absolutely beautifully maintained. If you are traveling Westward, it’s an incredible gateway to see and the history is awesome. Maybe that makes me a nerd. Sorry not sorry.
The only not fun part of my time at Cumberland Gap was the weather. I got my tent set up at the campsite and slept for a couple hours only to be woken up by weather that was a little more severe than my little tent can handle. In true tumbleweed spirit, I packed up and got an early (and wet) start on the last leg of my trip to Kansas. Especially with camping during the summertime, bad weather is something to expect and prepare for. Me and my little tent weren’t prepared, but it ended up working out for the best. I spent a couple hours taking a nap squished in the car at a rest stop on the border of Illinois, but that’s what made it an adventure.
If nothing else, camping in the summertime will teach you flexibility.
Next stop: home!