Big Creek Trail: Pisgah National Forest, Brevard, North Carolina
Enough of this light footing it about the house! The interior walls of my home are memorized! I recognize all of my furniture. Besides that the folks at the balance clinic say that challenging my sense of balance is a good thing. It only makes sense that I need to “wobble” my way over a few obstacles.
The Original Railroad Grade
The perfect place to do that was up in Pisgah National Forest above Brevard, North Carolina. Only an hour and 15 minutes from home it had been my training ground for hiking the Appalachian Trail last year. Pisgah is an appropriate word for my quest since it’s taken from the Hebrew word for summit and was the biblical mountain from which Moses saw the promised land. Pam Hembree and I decided on this day to “climb the mountain”. A 2,300 foot climb it would provide a challenge. The first 4.5 miles was a steady pull up an old railroad grade installed in the early 1900’s to log the area. In this picture you can easily see the grade.
Railroad Ties and Spikes Still To Be Found
As a matter of fact some of the original railroad ties complete with spikes can still be found along the trail.
Narrow Gauge Railroad in Logging Days Gone By
These narrow gauge railroads were built in many of the valleys that we have hiked. When World War II began teams were hired to salvage the abandoned rails for production of war needs but the grade and ties are still evident even today.
Pam Hembree Works Her Way Across the Creeks
Pam Hembree works her way across two of the seven water crossings along the way. On the return trip we repeated the crossings…..14 opportunities to challange my balance.
Near Disaster On Once Easily Tackled Log Bridges
There was a day when this giant log would have been an easy access across the stream. So in the celebration of days of old I promptly began the trek….but… then…halfway across….the wobbling began… It was only about 3 feet down but I lost my visual anchors to keep me balanced. I stopped….. attempting to steady myself. There didn’t seem to be any good options. I thought that landing on my head would be preferable to hitting the log spread eagle….hate that pain! Pam was behind me and felt the log shaking as I fought to regain my balance. She backed up off of the log. In took what seemed forever for me to fight to regain my balance. There was no choice but to attempt to move forward….baby steps complicated with knots on the tree. I sensed a low hanging branch to my right. I brought up my hand and grabbed it. As shaky as it was it gave me the security I needed to make the crossing….solid ground on the other side. Humbled!
It’s Time To Get the Feet Wet
At least one of the crossings was a bit much to handle rock hopping. What rocks were there were small and slick. Common sense said that it was time to don the water shoes.
The Two Mile Steep…More Than Steep Climb Begins
This sign tells it all. Big Creek Trail…Most Difficult. I knew that this would be the test. Not that the log crossing wasn’t test enough…I was by this time balanced again and had seven water crossings behind me. It was time to test my stamina.
More Rested Than I
By the time we came upon these lilies we were well into whooped land. The flowers seemed out of context for how I felt but they gave a moment of reprieve. The sound of very distant vehicles could be heard….we were within a mile of the Blue Ridge Parkway at the 6.50 mile mark.
At Last The Blue Ridge Parkway! “We Excited” or “We Stupid” Juries Still Out
It was a victory to reach the Blue Ridge Parkway. I kept a steady pace but stops were frequent. I felt as though I had been sitting in a tub with my clothes on. On the AT this would have been nothing…today it was a challenge. I’ve got a long ways to go but we were at the summit. A fine peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a zillion draws of water from my pack and I was ready to go…kinda. We began the hike back down the mountain.
This Little Fella Paid Us No Never Mind
My ears, as always, had been ringing but as I descended I heard it get louder….it took a moment but I found the cause. This little bee person working on a bloom. Maybe I needed an excuse to stop or maybe I thought that this was cool. He became a short video.
Do We Get Bored While Hiking?
Well maybe….different folks find different ways to entertain themselves. In this case a bit of art decor found leading against a tree. Or perhaps it marks the site of buried treasure.
The Road Home on Tired Legs
The hike ended up being 12.73 miles…fatigued but a good fatigue. We had completed another major trail in Pisgah. On the way out we ran into three fishermen. Our only human contact of the day. They caught 15 trout..all catch and release…true sportsmen. We were muddy and sweat soaked….they were in their element.
This wasn’t my first rehab hike…but it was the greatest challenge. More will follow. It was great to be hiking with Pam again and today she and Joe Gavalda are out on the trail……it’s great to be able to once again say “Hike On”.