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Begins: Apr 23, 2010
Date: Mon, Jun 7th, 2010
Start: Nolichucky, TN
End: Roan Mountain, TN, Home
Daily Distance: 0
Trip Distance: 67.5
Min Elevation: 0
Max Elevation: 0
Min Temp: 0
Max Temp: 0
People Met: 0
Entry Visits: 272
Journal Visits: 1,864
Guestbook Views: 154
Guestbook Entrys: 18
Appalachian Trail Map
And here is the rest of the story... ala Paul Harvey.
Link to ALL Photos at bottom of Post!!!
I re-read some of my posts, I noticed that I sometimes misspelled TRAIL and typed it as TRIAL, they are really interchangeable when it comes to the Appalachian Trail.. Everything is a trial. You are being constantly being tested, Physically AND Emotionally. So I really don't know if I was doing uncounsciuosly or I just can't type. Perhaps a little of both.
Day1: The hike started out very well and after about 8 hours of hiking I needed 2 motrin to alleviate the pain in my knees. Set up tent, ate a wonderful dinner and life on the trail was grand. Got up next morning and felt fine.
Day 2: I Hiked about 8 hours and half way through I need some more motrine. Same scenario, setup tent and ate well.. Slept so well that I kept most others up with my snoring. As an aside, I was given the Trail Name "BUZZ SAW". I guess for a very good reason.
Day 3: I awoke, again I felt fine. Hiked for 4 hours and needed something to relieve the pain in my knee. It was startingto be a distraction from the due diligence needed to hike the trail safely.. Remember, in past posts, the description of the trail, Rocky,Uphills and Downhill of 20 to 30 degrees.. Well, that's what I was facing., And it is the wrong time to be distracted with questions like, "can my knee hold up when I have to step up or down from this rock to the next one 16-18 inches lower? Will my boots slip on the wet leaves or algae that has grown on the rock? If it slips can I be quick enough to recover before I start to fall 100-200 feet down the embankment? After a while those questions loom over every step.. It sort takes away from the reason I Started to hike in the first place...Enjoy the natural beauty of mother nature... I continued none the less.. When you are 20-30 miles each way from a road that leads to civilization.. You MUST continue. No Choice, except to get a helecoptor to get you out, once you get to a clearing, which might be1-2 hours hike from where you are..!!! Sounds like fun.. NOT SO!!! With all the above in mind.. We, my buddy, Kevin, and me first had to hike over Roan Mountain. To describe it is as difficult as it was to climb.. Notice the word CLIMB in stead of hike.. It starts out as a30-40 degree ascent of a wet slippery muddy trail and deteriorates into a slippery rocky muddy rut of 10 to 14 inch tall grassy lines path.. It continues for 3 miles uphill to an elevation of over 6000 feet. OUCH to my knees!! Then What goes up must come down, and it does. We hiked and slipped down to about 4000 feet. Then we only had 6 more miles in light rain and being in the clouds of lesser ups and downs until we reached a shelter. When we reached the Shelter, I was so irritable that I barked at the one unfortunate person who happened to be there. Instead of putting up my tent, I was so exhausted and out of sorts, that all I could think of was getting out of my wet clothes and getting into warm dry woollies and into my sleeping bag and going to sleep. I took some strong meds and was asleep in less than 15minutes. I snored so loud that the poor guy who was there had to setup his tent in the rain, in order to get some sleep.. Kevin, on the other hand, simply endured a sleepless night as he watched over me.. I was Physically and emotionally fatigued.. I was not the cheerful positive person, I am normally on the trail. All I could think about was to get warm and rid of the pain.. Slept an uneventful drugged sleep.
Day 4: Kevin, who had a pulled thigh muscle and had not gotten a wink of sleep, was up and about as soon as one could see,about 6:00. I heard him squeezing the air out of Big Agness, his sleeping pad. He was already packing up ready to head out by 7:00. Hewas hurting and wanted to get to the planned hostel as soon as possible to get some sleep and let his thigh muscle heal.. He, too was out of sorts; but, in his FOOTBALL GAME mode, focused on the end results..Tired and hurting. We skipped the normal breakfast as we had an "Easy"10 mile hike to the Hostel near Roan Mountain, TN. I too was ready,but on strong meds as my knees hurt as soon as I got up. We started out and Kevin was driven to get to the hostel no matter what. I too wanted to get to a place where I could take a zero mile day and recuperate. We normally hiked together; but, that day was an exception.. I knew I couldn't keep up with the ailing; but driven,Kevin. I hikes for 4 hours up hill and I was doing OK. Amazingly,this hike was among the most wondrous scenery of at least 5000 foot bald grassy mountains, called the highlands. Think "Sound of Music". I could see for miles in every direction, nature is magnificent.. even though I was walking tenouosly, I forgot my troubles and took in all the beauty... I also took several photos.. Hope they reveal what I saw.. When I crested the highlands, I saw a rocky outcropping that had a bronze plack about a man who was instrumental in acquiring the lands and making them available to the public. I was so tired that I sat down on the rock to rest.. As if by accident, I found a place to rest my head and the next thing I knew I awoke 30 minutes later, chilled to the bone. I was in a cloud with 20-30 mph winds. When I went to stand, my knee was "LOCKED".. Now, What? I had 5 miles of Downhills to get to the Hostel.. SO, having no other alternative, I used my trekking poles as crutches.. One step at a time, I managed the easy winding paths downhill, when I passed a hiker who came from the hostel area. He told me, I had just finished the easy down hill section and had about 3 miles of steeper descents, what he failed to tell me was that there were boulders and slopes that, if I were 100%, would drain all my energy. As hard a Roan Mountain was to ascend, this was the as difficult to descend.. And what caused my original knee irritations were the previous downhill jarrings of previous hills. Excited and thrilled... NOT... I proceeded with more caution and a semblance of DREAD.. No choice.. just keep walking... So I did, one baby step at a time.. I honestly can't remember a time when I had to physically overcome something so severe in my life.. I did it!! Time wasn't moving at any pace I ever Experienced.. When I think back, I can remember almost every rock formation and places where I had to use my hands and sometimes my tochas (ass) as I descended the rocks.. My knee was in constant pain and I used it as if it weren't part of my body..sort of a wooden stump.. It hurt when I bent it it hurt when I put pressure on it when it was straight.. But, as evident, as I sit here typing this.. I made it to the road that led to the hostel. I hitched a ride of .3 miles from where the trail head met the road to the hostel. I was limping pretty badly. So much so that everyone at the hostel came to my rescue and helped me get to a place where I could call Kevin.. Remember AT&T doesn't work on the trail. NO coincidences ever happen.. When I talked to Kevin, he told me that there were no rooms in the only hotel within 25 miles, and the hostel/B&B was full. The local rental car agency was closed on Saturday and that he was taking a cab to the nearby airport to rent a car to drive us home.
WOW, I was amazed how things worked out. All the way down t,he decent, I was worried about my injury disrupting our "planned" hike to Damascus, and that Kevin would have to go it alone. No coincidences. We both knew it was OVAH on the decent.. OH yes, Kevin actually broke his walking stick he found from his previous hike 4 years ago.. as he was putting pressure on it instead of his hurt thigh muscle. If you saw this "stick" it would be very very hard to snap it it you really tried, and yet he managed to snap it like a toothpick, so strong was his pain.. To complete the story, Kevin picked me up and drove us both home. Great to be home; but, I am really glad I walked the 400 miles and Kevin his 200 miles. I would do it again... REALLY.
Well the 2 warriors, limped to safety and now are home and comfy. I will be using crutches to give my knee some time to REST.. Nothing structurally is wrong.. Just too much jarring and banging on it. It is progressing well. I will be back to normal in a few days, except for the inches and pounds I left on the Trail..
Below is a link to ALL the photos I took.. See one or many its your choice.. Some form of notice is due you here.. I have been smitten with nature and as you review the photos, you might want to skip about 70% of the flowers, trees and mountain ranges that captured my interest on the trail.. I am still enamored with nature now more than ever.. Enjoy them as much or as little as you like.
To use Photo Link cut and paste it into your browser.. and voila there it will be..!!
One more thing needs to be said... my friend Kevin.. WOW, He is some kind of GOOD Man. His actions and deeds
demonstrate his Christian Faith.. He is not one of those people who preach one thing and act differently. He lives his life based on what he believes and his actions only back up what he preaches. Simple example: We were at a shelter and Kevin had just purchased some powdered Gatoraide. And did we need it. our electrolytes were depleted and the Gatoraide seemed to replenish it.. We has 2 packets per day and could have used more. Now, at the shelter, a young man had tried to"FLIM-FLAM" Kevin by offering as the young man put it 5 pretty bad packs electrolyte mix, that he was going to throw away... simple his garbage, in trade for one packet of Kevin's Gatoraide. I spoke up and put into perspective. I said, you want to trade your trash for something Kevin would need to help with his energy levels for your junk.. Are you serious?" The young man shirked and admitted that he was trying to take advantage of Kevin.. Then Kevin, just gave him one,out of kindness.. The look on the kids face went blank.. He never experienced someone just caring and being kind.
Well that is just apeek into this kind powerful mans being.. He is truly a GOOD man and I am proud that I had time to get to know him better.. He made myjourney, bright with his humor, kindness, caring and Strength.
Lastly,Thanks to all those people who work tirelessly in maintaining the Trial for the thousands of people they never see. Their work allows us to enjoy their generosity. I only saw a few of them sweating as they maintained their section. It thanked everyone of them for myself and countless thousands of others hikers. They are the TRUE TRIAL ANGELS.
As I sit here typing the final post, I am both sad it is OVAH; but, happy, I got the chance to Hike the AT.
Love and Blessings to ALL
Ed Z "BuzzSaw"
The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) is more than 2,175-mile long footpath stretching through 14 eastern states from Maine to Georgia. Conceived in 1921 and first completed in 1937, it traverses the wild, scenic, wooded, pastoral, and culturally significant lands of the Appalachian Mountains. Learn more: www.appalachiantrail.org