Monday, 29 August 2016

My Life-Changing Experience at Mount Mitchell State Park - Dr Ron A Virmani

When I was in college, I went through a bit of a rough patch. My grades were failing, I was losing friends, and life in general didn't seem to make any sense. That's precisely when I took a trip to North Carolina's famous Mount Mitchell State Park that turned my life around, based on some wise words from Ron Virmani, a close friend of the family.

I still remember the way Ron Virmani described the park. "You'll never overcome your challenges until you can tower over them. Standing at the peak of Mount Mitchell can give you that perspective." At 6,366 feet tall, I wasn't sure if Dr Ron Virmani had realized that I wouldn't be able to see much from that altitude. But after listening to his stories of camping at the mountain's summit and hiking its plentiful natural trails, I decided I would go, and packed my car for a weekend getaway instead of studying for my midterms.

Ron Virmani had made regular trips to Mount Mitchell over the years to help him cope with a stressful career. As I drove through the winding roads to the observation tower on the mountain's peak, I began to understand how such a retreat could work wonders for anyone, regardless of their lifestyle.

Mount Mitchell is the tallest mountain peak east of the Mississippi River, and from its lofty peak, the whole of southwestern North Carolina is laid out before you. From the observation deck, I marveled at the peaks of nearby mountains that seemed just a touch lower than the one I stood upon.
But perhaps it was my decision to take a hike down one of the mountain's scenic trails that brought me closer to understanding myself and fighting the indecision and fatigue that had plagued me in school. It was something that I would thank Dr Ron A Virmani for many times afterward.

As I rounded a bend of pine trees on my hike, I came face to face with a grizzly bear. Busy munching on some berries, he almost ignored me, but slowly swung his snout around and eyed me cautiously.
Standing so close to such a powerful animal, I realized that my life could end right there and then. All of my life's other problems seemed to pale in comparison, and I made a promise to myself that no matter what, if I survived my hike, I'd find a way to make it through college with flying colors.
Luckily, the bear had had enough to eat, and lazily ambled away, leaving me a little shaken, but very stirred. 

After my experience, I excitedly told Dr Ron Virmani of the life-altering experience I'd had. In typical Ron fashion, he poked fun at my experience, saying, "Oh, so you met old Smokey. He's a real popular guy around that area."

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