We are off the trail now, as planned, and relaxing at Misty Mountain Inn & Cottages in Blairsville, Georgia. Cabin 4.
We came of the trail at Woody Gap.
We now have this:
Yesterday we had this:
We don’t appreciate what we have, nor do we appreciate the power and magesty of nature which we think we have conquered. But that is a delusion. It was before us, and will be after us. This infrastructure we have created is as fragile, and temporary, as a spider’s web, a butterfly’s cocoon, and a Robin’s nest.
I will soon begin a series of post entitled “What I Learned on the Trail.” Not what I learned with complete certainty, but glimpses and hints. I’m not even sure what it is I really learned. Maybe just some kind of awareness? Language struggles to convey reality. Language, and this blog post, are just facades as to what really is.
Great weather for a change inspired me to get out and hike. The low fifties on a sunny day was perfect.
Every year I forget how hiking uses muscles that you don’t use otherwise. Especially the glutamous maximus. I need to train for this spring. By the way, after seeing this picture I want straight home and trimmed the beard.
Missouri has lots of parks and lots of small trails including those at Rockbridge State Park which is about a seven minute drive from my house. I wanted to do the eight mile loop on the Gans Creek trail but opted out because they are evidently redoing the routes and it is a chaotic mess. The blazes are being changed and the main route that was fairly well marked last year is, I think, incomplete. I couldn’t make heads nor tails out of it.
I started at the South end and wanted to loop back around through the Northern trailhead and come back, but cut my hike short by at least an hour because the trail markings were so confusing. It was not so much about getting lost, but the uncertainty of where I was on a trail, and hiking on a trial where the blazes from last year were either missing or changed. It is that chaotic.
To get back all I would have had to have done is follow the creek which runs downstream from North to South back where my car was parked at the trailhead where I started. Worse case scenario was bushwacking (hiking off the designated trail) my way back following the creek downstream to the trailhead. That would have been wet and muddy. A compass would have made it a bit easier, but I could have done it without the compass because of the creek. I had foolishly not brought my compass and will NOT make that mistake again. Also, the sun was to my West and that was visible. So I wasn’t going to get lost.
On the way out I passed a group of three teenagers and we greeted one another. On the way back, about fifteen minutes after I decided to turn around, I passed the group of teenagers again. They asked me if they were on the route back to the Northern trailhead. Actually that is the same question I had asked myself, and was unable to answer because of the confused trail markings. Essentially why I had decided to turn around. They had a map which was useless to them because it was just squiggly lines, and I don’t even think it was updated with the new changes.
I told them I had no idea. That is not what they had wanted to hear. They had started on the Northern end and were trying to make it back there where their car was parked. They had asked other people for directions and the people they asked had either not known or had given them directions that turned out not to be helpful. They were not panicking but they were concerned. They had been over three hours in the woods, they had no water, and the one cell phone they had between them was about to die.
I looked at them and wondered what to do. Just giving them directions were not going to get it done. At least two people had done that. I was familiar with the trail, but the new configuration, which I suspect is not yet complete anyway, had confused me. I could try to lead them back to where they started, and would have eventually made it, but it was late in the afternoon, and I didn’t know the distances. Then I would have had to hike back to where I had begun. Also I could see their feet were wet and muddy, and they probably had on cotton socks. I am also sure they were hungry and thirsty although they declined my offer of water. The other option was to lead them out and drive them back to their car on the highway.
They were in a bit of a dilemma. They meet a stranger in the woods who offers to take them back to the trailhead and then drive them to their car. If they were my kids, or if it was me lost in the woods, I certainly hope somebody would have helped out. I could tell they were hesitant. As I would have been. As a matter of fact I had the same concerns about them but had sized them up as good kids, with no gear, out on a walk that went bad. They decided to take me up on my offer.
They thanked me profusely. And they were grateful, but I am not sure if it was because I didn’t bludgeon them to death with my hiking pole, or they were just glad they were finally going to be able to get home.