My family of six, along with my Dad, set out on the nearly three-mile hike to Abrams Falls. Isaac got ahead of us because our pace was too slow for him. As we were hiking, some fellow hikers that were leaving kept sharing about the bear and the activity of the bears . . . I got a little nervous thinking about Isaac being so far ahead of us.
These were the words spoken to my 13-year-old son as he sat down to take his shoes off at Abrams Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. My family and I traveled this summer to visit my parents who still reside in my hometown of Morristown, TN. In July, we took a day trip to the Smokies and went to Cades Cove to hike one of my all-time favorite trails, Abrams Falls.
A few years ago, my wife gifted me with a fly rod for fishing. I have continued to learn and grow in this sport. I had my fly bag for this hike in case I saw some good areas to fish. I gave my son, Isaac, the fly fishing bag, and I took the heavier backpack loaded down with waters. My family of six, along with my Dad, set out on the nearly three-mile hike to Abrams Falls. Isaac got ahead of us because our pace was too slow for him. As we were hiking, some fellow hikers that were leaving kept sharing about the bear and the activity of the bears . . . I got a little nervous thinking about Isaac being so far ahead of us.
We were nearing the falls when Isaac appeared out of nowhere with a disturbed look on his face and said, "Dad! Dad! A bear has your fly fishing bag . . ." I thought he was teasing because he has a witty and dry sense of humor. I looked up and noticed a bear lumbering towards a hiker. I looked at Isaac and said with a calm urgency, "Go get the bag and your shoes, and come back here." At this point, my eyes were fixated on this black bear moving towards the hiker and climbing the falls. The hiker turned and threw a water bottle at the bear, which halted the bear. Then the bear turned and looked in our direction. By this time, Isaac was by my side. He showed me the fly bag and box that stores my flies for fishing, now all clawed and chewed up by the bear. Brooke had just approached with our girls, and my Dad was laughing his head off. I turned into protective Dad mode, and firmly said, "Turn around and go the other direction – nnnnoooowwwww!"
At this point, I realized something. The bear smelled the flies in my fly bag because I had caught fish with them. He was headed towards the bag because of the fish aroma. I whispered to Brooke what was happening, and she understood that we needed to get out of there. I emphatically told my Dad, "We are leaving, now!" So . . . the story ended by our family hiking to arrive at Abrams Falls, then turning around immediately and getting out of there. Needless to say, we were thankful no one was hurt. We ended the day eating soft-serve ice cream, rehashing the story over and over. We made memories.
In 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, the apostle Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, . . ." As believers in Christ, we have the opportunity to be the "fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere" and the "aroma of Christ" to not only unbelievers, but believers as well. Just like this bear smelled the aroma of fish and was drawn to us, I hope and pray others would be drawn to our community because of the fragrance and aroma of Christ-like beauty in us.