Jackie and Oscar Blackwell
Huck and Ray
The evening had been perfect with Oscar and Jackie. We awoke refreshed, clean, well fed and with organized gear. Their getaway home is tucked away on the side of a mountain near Linville Gorge and literally across the street from the Blue Ridge Parkway. The morning was chilly but the sun was shining and the promise of a good hiking day was upon us.
Our Wonderful Hosts for an Evening
We ate until we could eat no more and then stuffed snacks offered into our packs. My feet were still bothering me and that was now a concern. The last thing I wanted was to come off of the trail. I hobbled about the house as we made preparations for the return to the woods. My feet were telling me that they didn’t want to go.
All of us went out onto their porch and took pictures then toured the grounds which included a still active outhouse, barn and shed. When this hike is over we hope to return to them and research the history of the property. But more importantly it will be to once again reunite with newly found class act friends.
Huck Attempts to Pack 70 Liters of Supplies in a 65 Liter Bag
We said goodbye to Oscar and Jackie drove us back to the trailhead. Along the way a stop at Ingles was in order where I loaded up on Twizzlers and tuna. Further up the road we stopped at a hostel where Huck had a care package from his mother waiting. It was well packaged and well chosen. It was also enough food for an army. Huck and Ray divided it up and I managed to abscond a few items and then Jackie and I sat and watched him attempt to cram all of the items into his already bulging pack. He did it….,.almost.
We drove on to the trailhead. A couple of items that wouldn’t fit were offered to hikers there and accepted. Of the three items left on a rock one was taken by a hiker who arrived while I was still there. It was time to go. We said our goodbyes to Jackie and I attempted to walk across the highway. My legs were in trouble.
Ray and Huck Behind Me Climbing.
They stayed behind talking to the newly arrived hiker and working on their packs. By this time it was close to 12:30. Baloo had been one of the hikers there when we arrived and he happily announced that they were going to get barbecue. My legs wanted BBQ too…. or any excuse to avoid the next two mile climb.
Each and every step was agonizingly painful. The climb down the rocky trail yesterday from Hump Mountain had done me no favors. My left knee felt like a toothache, both heals were on fire, and now my right foot was hurting. I baby stepped up the mountain for 1.6 miles before sitting down for a break. Below me I could see Huck and Ray hauling their fully laden packs toward me.
In the Distance Three Sets of Sticks Resting . Turned Out to be Little Bunny, Autumn and Caboose
They passed me and I quietly wondered if I would see them again. I was seriously hobbled and didn’t know how far I would be able to make it. At this point I could barely see sticks stuck in the ground above me without hikers. Could it be them? I stumbled up the trail and soon realized that there were three sets of poles. It turned out to be Little Bunny, Autumn and Caboose who later told us that they just couldn’t get motivated. There was a lot of that going around.
The View They Were Taking In. The Range We Had Just Hiked. Roan, Round Bald, Jane Bald, Little Hump and Hump Mountains
Little Bunny appeared to be asleep in his bag while the other two were leaning against their packs. The slightly cold wind did not appear to bother them. I kept going. The top of this mountain seemed to keep sliding away from me. There was no top.
The Reason My Feet are Killing Me
Off in the distance I could see the cause of my present condition. I reached the top with a sense of relief but the first step down was worse. As a matter of fact it was more than worse . I was now hiking an up and down ridge that was interspersed with homes in the distance. The sound of dogs barking became common. I seriously needed to stop.
The Isaacs Cemetery. The Place We are Trying to Avoid
I came upon this country cemetery and wanted to lie down in the grass. Beyond was a small church and a newly fallen pine tree provided me a major obstacle to cross with my now nearly nonfunctional legs. I managed to make it another half a mile when I crossed a small bridge and came into a pine grove. There on the ground sat Huck and Ray. Not only that they had their tent set up. “We just couldn’t go any further!” I gratefully collapsed to the ground. It was only about 3:30 and only 3.6 miles had been covered but I wasn’t the only one struggling. As a matter of fact everyone we saw expressed the feeling of exhaustion. We were just short of the 400 mile point. The afternoon was spent in conversation and positive thoughts about Oscar and Jackie. Dinner cooked with extra chow this evening we let darkness and the return of chilled air descend upon us before saying goodnight and turning in for the night.
I crawled into my bag and managed to upload the pictures for two days ago when we left Greasy Creek Hostel. It took an hour and a half. When I began to write the story the entire thing disappeared. Frustration within a bag. I decided to skip ahead so that I would not get further behind. It seems that both my legs and storyline are not cooperating. It will be difficult to hike on.