Hiking. I had my own definition. For me, it meant a brief, or perhaps not so brief, walk in the woods with gently rolling hills, chipmunks dancing about on the ‘forest’ floor, birds chirping, no backpack, no special shoes required and, perhaps as a bonus, a burbling creek nearby to add a great soundtrack.
Vanessa, well, she has her own version of a day hike. I learned, in small measure what it was. But first, I’m a city slicker. When I walk, I walk on flat ground to the sounds of car horns, having to be careful how I cross the street. I meet other walkers/runners who are familiar to me. Vanessa, and her dog (who I am now pretty sure, after our hike, is mixed with mountain goat!), well their idea of a nice hike involves trails that are rated as strenuous, crossing of creeks, climbing up and walking/sliding down trails that are at angles that I never have seen in my usual walks, nor that I tend to seek out. If I see such a hill, I’m usually looking for away around it, not over it.
On Sunday morning we went to a place that she’s wanted to show me for quite a while, Lost Cove. It is somewhere out yonder, near Linville, NC. We drove for a bit on the Blue Ridge Parkway, then made a right turn, headed down a gravel road. Down, down, down we went, until we got to the bottom, a dead end – the trail head. I thought: How nice. It was quite beautiful. An arrow pointed to the trailhead. We started walking. Within a few hundred feet, if that far, the trail canted down to the left and we had to cross some wet rocks with a little bit of moss on them, just to make it tricky. Up next, an incline, with wet rocks and all manner of tree roots jutting here and there. Good for grabbing on to or tripping over, whichever you prefer. We met a group of backpackers on their way out and one of them asked: How far is the parking lot? We told them that it was just a little ways to go. They were happy … later, I understood why!
As we crossed streams here and there, I was quite impressed with the beauty, remoteness, and challenge of this particular hike. Vanessa, part billy goat, was loving every minute of it. I, though I was enjoying it, was starting to sweat and attract more than my fair share of insects. However, too bad for them, they were drowning in my sweat as they attempted a water landing on my forehead and neck. Eventually, we came to a stream, the trickiest part of the hike, she said. This was a fairly fast moving, but shallow stream. What made it tricky was that you could barely see where to place your feet in the stream because of the movement of the water. Also, there was moss all over the rocks, potentially slippery. She and Geordi, the mountain goat dog made it across. I contemplated my steps. I handed Vanessa my iPhone, just in case I ended up ‘sitting’ in the water. LOL – I made it across without incident. Onward we went. Up, up, up, and up a little more.
Waterfalls! Yes. Waterfalls – I mean the sweat was now pouring off of my head, neck, arms. I was no longer worried about bugs. They didn’t stand a chance! Eventually, we got to the ‘swimmin’ holes – a couple of places where the water has formed fairly deep pools of water. We decided to go for a swim. The water, my best guess was about 60 degrees, perhaps less – so it was brief swim! After our swim, we dried ourselves then found a nice place to lie on the rocks, have a bite to eat, and soak in the sun like reptiles! Ssssssssssssensational!
On the way back, Vanessa indicated that she wanted to ‘feel the burn’ a bit. I told her to go for it. I was already feelin’ the burn and had been for quite a while. I’m a flatlander! She waited for me down the trail, not to far ahead, as I came lumbering along. BTW, I did all of this is some Timberland walking sandals. I don’t recommend it. I have a blister on my big toe, left foot. It came from the constant rubbing of water, wet sand, etc, during the hike.
I will return, this time with a good camera, my Olympus OM-D (lightweight), and a lightweight tripod. It was a great outing, one that I would not have done by myself. I’m glad that she introduced me to it! I was pretty tired on Monday and needed a little extra sleep.