Lent Photo-a-Day 2/26: Place
Sunset at Clingmans Dome
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
© 2014 Kristina Plaas, All Rights Reserved
There are a number of places on this planet that are very special to me. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of those places. I have favorite locations in Cades Cove, along the Little River, and on park trails. In the last couple of years one location has come to hold the most meaning for me -- Clingmans Dome. As the highest point in the Smokies, the Dome rises above everything that surrounds it, not with a sharp, towering pinnacle but with a tree-covered rounded crown -- the crown jewel of the Smokies, sacred place for the native Cherokee, and now a sacred place for me.
The night this sunset was photographed from Clingmans Dome I made the pilgrimage from Knoxville to the top of Old Smoky to mourn the recent death of my mother. After a stressful and exhausting two weeks at my mother's beside, I knew where I needed to go. I got in my car and drove the long, winding road to the Dome. I wandered up the steep, paved path to the top of the mountain, letting the clouds and mountain breezes envelop me like a warm embrace. Breathing, crying, observing, breathing some more. A hushed peace flowed from the setting sun through the clouds, over the mountain ridges, and into my heart. Peace in a special place at the close of day. It was a soul-soothing moment I'll never forget in a place I will love forever.