Great Smokey Mountain Visitor Returns Heart-Shaped Rock With Apology Note
By R.J. Johnson - @rickerthewriter
August 22, 2019
A pint-sized tourist who had recently taken a trip to visit the Great Smokey Mountains National Park located near the Tennessee and North Carolina border loved her visit so much, she wanted to take home a souvenir. So, the little girl named Karina pocketed a heart-shaped rock she found while on her trip.
But, a few days later, the young National Park visitor was feeling guilty about having removed the rock from the park and decided to send back the stolen park property, along with a heartfelt letter that Park Rangers posted to their Facebook page.
In neat, block letters (and more than a few misspellings), Karina wrote about her trip and why she returned the rock to the park.
"Dear Park Ranger,
Deep Creep was awesome! I especialy (sic) liked Tom Branch falls. I loved it so much I wanted to have a soiveneir (sic) to come home with me, so I took a rock."
But, in fact, it's illegal for visitors to remove objects from the park.
"I'm sorry, and I want to return (the rock)," Karina wrote. "Also, here's a donation!"
In addition to the rock and donation for the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Karina also included a drawing she'd made of the Tom Branch Falls where she and her family had visited.
The Park Rangers were happy to have the rock returned to them, thanking Karina in a Facebook post while posting photos of the rock making its way back to Tom Branch Falls.
" We are so glad you enjoyed your visit," the park rangers wrote. "Already, you are becoming an amazing steward for the park. Thank you for recognizing that what is in the park should stay in the park.
"If every visitor took a rock home, that would mean 11 million rocks would be gone from the park every year! The park would definitely not be as beautiful as it was before. Rocks in the Smokies also provide homes for hundreds of creatures, including salamanders! By leaving rocks where they are, we're helping protect these special homes as well as the beauty of the park."
Photo: Great Smokey Mountains National Park