There is a place, an exit off the interstate highway that is different than any other. There are no signs for gas, food, lodging, campgrounds or attractions. There is not even the *Exit 1 mile ahead* signage when you are coming from North Carolina into Tennessee. It is right on the border of these two mountainous states, the peak of the Smoky Mountain section of the Southern Appalachians. You see the *Welcome to Tenneessee* sign, then the next thing you know, there is an exit, with no warning.
It is a mysterious place, the no gas, food, lodging exit. Is it part of the twilight zone, a figment of imagination? But it lives up to the name, Waterville. There is water. But there are no houses, no buildings of any kind, beyond the cloverleaf ramps of the interstate exits, the roads are not even paved.
So much water can weaken the bond that holds the rock together on the steep slopes. Sometimes there are rock slides, some so large the big interstate highway is closed for many months while the boulders are removed from the roadway. Sometimes the slides are little.
It seems so isolated, this exit. Why is there an exit here at all, one wonders? The sound of trucks and cars that are known to be near, traveling to their destinations, is drowned out by the sound of rushing water. It is loud, that sound, very loud. Is that a banjo in the distance?
Someone, perhaps the same stone stacker, placed a piece of dead wood to mark this deep sinkhole in the middle of the gravel road. It would not be visible at night, however. there are no electric lights in Waterville.
Oh, yes. The Trail. Once again we are hiking on the famous Appalachian Trail, this time in flip flops rather than ballerinas. Click here-Appy Trails To You to read of the earlier adventure. I have often wondered why there are no signs on the interstate advertising this wonderful scenic place. Is it because the hikers prefer to keep it a secret from the thousands of vehicles that pass by here daily? We know now, too, but will honor the sacredness of this secret spot. But if you are ever traveling from Knoxville, Tennesee to Asheville, North Carolina, or vice versa, who’s to know if you make an unscheduled stop to partake of a brief hike? You will see pristine wilderness and hear…water.