I CALL A HALT and set the video to capture the scene. After three days of clear weather, broken curtains of low clouds chase across the wooded slopes of Thunderhead Mountain in the distance. The rising wind brings a damp chill, and our team begins unpacking rain gear. No one hurries. Ever since entering Great Smoky Mountains National Park, my Chinese comrades and I have progressively lost respect for this manicured “wilderness” in the Appalachian Range. It’s nothing like the random challenges of the mountains back home, where trails are maintained only to the extent that local peasants find them useful. Here the trail is in such perfect condition that I feel like giving it a tip. There are signposts everywhere, and the maps are a revelation: in China, I’m sure only the army and Taiwanese spies could hope to have anything so detailed, and I’m willing to bet that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army hasn’t started marking the locations of toilets yet.