Saturday, August 30, 2008

Stepping out with Fay

Before anyone gets upset, the title of this post does not indicate that LaWanna has to be worried about another woman. In fact, I am not that that fond of Fay. She has done some good, but for me personnally, has disrupted my plans. Fay is the tropical storm that was news before Gustav took aim on the Gulf Coast. First, Fay put a damper on the Vaughn Park Family Beach Trip last weekend. Second, on the same weekend the winds of Fay dropped a large oak limb on our cable line and on my truck. No internet-no phone-no television. Then, Fay took a turn and followed us on our weeklong backpacking trip in the north Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail. We managed to get started and over Blood Mountain on Monday before the rain started, which was a blessing. But before we stopped for the first night, the rains began. The next two days and nights about 10 to 12 inches of rain fell. That made it difficult to set out in the mornings and we left camp late both Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday was a 12 mile day so the late start and added weight and tricky footing caused by the rain combined to make a difficult day that brought casualties. My cousin, Gene, was experiencing leg cramps and having difficulty taking in nutrition so he needed to take a break at the only highway we crossed during the week. He and my brother Keith hitchhiked to Dahlonega and got a room and ate real food. Then they hired a shuttle to where a Forest Service road crosses the A.T. and got back on the trail. We met them that evening at the next shelter.

There were some adventures that you just can not anticipate. For instance, Wednesday night between midnight and 1 a.m., I heard voices and awoke to see my Keith out of his tent talking to a man in full camo, wearing a bullet-proof vest, night vision goggles, and carrying an automatic weapon. What? Turns out that the Army Rangers training in the area had stumbled into our camp and one of them literally stumbled over a log. Keith woke up during the commotion and then most of us did as well. The commander apologized for disturbing us and advised that there would soon be gunfire on top of Hawk Mountain. They did not get very far from our campsite before we heard the men getting yelled at. It is a funny feeling to realize that the objective that could easily have been achieved was to slip through without our knowledge. The should know that I sleep with my hickory walking stick nearby.

The last few days were clear and the views were beautiful after the rain moved out. Here are a few pictures to give you an idea of what it is like;

This picture is of Mark and me. I am thankful that he loves the outdoors and sees God's work in creation. I appreciate that Mark would take time from work and spend the week with his dad and other old guys hiking. It was hard for him to be gone from Lindsay a FULL WEEK especially since her birthday fell during the week.

This small bridge crossed a mountain stream. After several days of rain, the sunlight at the end of the bridge served as a great icon for the feelings we had. You know, "light at the end of the tunnel".

Many people have never experienced the Appalachian Trail or anything like it, so they ask what the trail is like. The section we hiked this year has a little stretch that is flat, wide and easy walking. Most of it, however, is something like this picture. Keith is making his way up another rocky section. The reason boots are important is that you step on and over thousands of rocks in a day's time. It seems that you are always going up a mountain or down a mountain. You would think those times would be about even, but somehow it seems more uphill to me.

Here Keith clowns at an interesting rock formation. A sense of humor is essential on a week-long hike.

I will close, appropriately enough, with a picture of sunset from Springer Mountain--the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. I hoped to add more pictures but Blogger is just taking too long to upload and I have walked away from this post every day for a week. Here it is finally. We had fun, soaked up (pun intended) lots of nature, and built relationships. Most of us boosted our physical limits some as well. I am about two days from walking normally again. Mark will take a little longer.


Lerra said...

I hate that Fay made her mark on y'alls trip, but I'm glad you had a little "dry time". And the pics are great!

Kathryn said...

That is absolutely beautiful. I would love to hike in those parts. Wow!