On Mar 26, 2015, at 6:48 AM
Thank you all for your heart-warming and inspirational responses to “The Story of Einstein” in yesterday’s log. Please continue to pray for my new friend and that new believer.
This trail log is for Tuesday, March 24th. I rose before the others in the Jerry Cabin shelter, disturbed as we had been by “Good Knight’s” noisy arrival just a few hours earlier. He was gracious, though, and rose at 6 with the rest of us. It’s very hard to eat and pack noiselessly in the dark. I said goodbye to my new trail acquaintances and headed out, sure that I would soon be passed. It did not take long before “Bruin” shot past me. I doubt I will ever see him again.
Now that we have scaled the Camp Creek Bald, we are on a long wonderful ridge that runs for miles. The hiking was glorious. It was a cool clear day with miles of undulating dirt path covered in leaves. Inspired by the great weather and the relatively easy terrain, I moved faster than ever.
You get “in a zone” when hiking, much like when distance running, where time speeds by and your head is focused on other things. I drifted into such a zone, loving the walk and thinking through a new business opportunity. That’s OK when running, but on the AT you have to watch for the white blazes every few hundred feet. I did not. Somewhere along the process of mentally launching a new business venture, I found myself halfway down a mountain road and sure I had left the trail.
Armed with my trusty map, I walked out to a creek, followed it to a field, followed that to a logging road, and eventually happened across some loggers who pointed me to the nearest paved road. Another couple of miles put me at an intersection where, consulting the map, I met Sharon Shelton in her SUV on Joe Shelton Road. She gave me a ride back to the Devils Fork Gap and I was soon on the trail again. In 48 years of hiking I have never gotten lost on the trail. I was having too much fun. But the diversion was an interesting experience.
“Good Knight” finally caught up with me at Hog Back Ridge where I’d stopped for water. He showed up with his radio blaring. He likes to walk with noise. We visited and I set out for the last miles, determined to cross Interstate 26 before stopping. If I made it, I would chalk up a 19-mile day. As the hours wore on, and I got hungrier, I fantasized about chicken fried steak smothered in white gravy, with a big salad and Thousand Island dressing, and many refills of sweet tea. As I pounded out the last miles, I did the mental math on how many miles I have run (35,000) and hiked on the AT (1,100) and gone on local hikes (many hundreds… perhaps more). It’s no wonder that I need Aleve to cover up my knee pain.
I found a wonderful private camping spot near a tiny spring where I would rest for the night. In honor of my good friend, Brannon Hollingsworth, I even built a fire. This was a glorious day.
And… around 9 PM… the woods were filled with the sound of raucous rock music and the light of a bobbing headlamp. Trail mix in one hand and both hiking sticks in the other, “Good Knight” stopped to say hello as he headed to the next gap, in hopes of some people and some free food (what we call “Trail Magic”).
I drifted off to sleep as the rock music faded into the distance, replaced by the sound of a strong east wind in the tall creaking trees around me.
What an amazing day.
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