Sunday, March 20, 2011

Is Anybody Still Out There?

*Okay, I know I am way behind on my posts here - please bear with me :)

MST – Day 40 – 11/17/10 – Bamboo Gap to Jeffries Park – 12 miles

As my car climbed up Highway 321 toward Blowing Rock the world melted into white oblivion and I knew a change was coming. Sure enough, when I arrived at our meeting spot Danny and “B” Townes were waiting for me with Plan B.

Our three days of hiking on the MST was already rearranged. Our first planned day, walking on the Parkway, was too dangerous in this fog. The weatherman got it right this time: chance of rain, 100%. Since we had three cars, we dropped one at a bailout point, another at the optimistic end point, then went back to the beginning for what few choose to do: slogging and squishing all day long.

On the up side, we were hiking with “B” on a brand new trail section just dedicated in October in which “B” was a vital part of the trail building crew as the chainsaw guy. “B” is also a board member of the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (FMST), reknowned in his home community of Wilkesboro, an AT thru-hiker with his son, class of 2005. He is very knowledgeable, a fast talker with a long stride, and he was willing to hike in the back so we could stay together and chatter.

Rain and mud meant easily spotted fresh deer tracks on the trail. A couple of times it felt as though a deer was only moments ahead of us. “B” educated us on deer scrapes, where a male deer paws the ground, urinates and smells scent of females urinating. Hey, anything is exciting to distract from the relentless drip, drip, drip.

We kept it moving as the rain came down so I took very few photos (in fact, this post includes all of them). Our one stop for eating was brief. And let me tell you, bathroom breaks are quite a nuisance in the pouring rain. Overlooks that normally boast an awesome view were just blank nothings as we whizzed by.

One item of interest: At a road crossing we saw two fellows on recumbent bikes and they actually stopped to chat, even though they were going uphill. I didn’t catch their names, just that they were Floridians biking the entire BRP southbound. Even better, they were smiling because today was their short day and they were almost to their destination, the town of Blowing Rock. Other than today their weather had been great. When hiking or biking with a goal or deadline, you take the weather as it comes. A bad day outside is still better than a good day at work.

Once you’re wet, you’re wet, and we were moving quickly, so we passed our bailout point and continued on to our end point at the entrance sign for Jeffries Park. We backtracked to collect cars, then “B” helped us set up the shuttle for the following day because he would not be hiking with us. As we drove along the Parkway, he pointed out the many places where the trail crosses. Otherwise, the Parkway was enveloped in fog and I could barely make out the mile marker posts.

The ultimate highlight of the day: “B”and his wife Martha were hosting us for two nights and we were treated to a lovely home-cooked meal and cozy beds. We draped our wet clothing on drying racks and slept well.

Read Danny's tale of the day here.

Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet. ~Roger Miller