Ranger Bob had planned a backpacking trip to Grandfather Mountain on December 28 - 29, 2020. I made my reservation using the new Internet system adopted by the State Park several months ago. A couple days before the trip I received a call from one of the Park Rangers. I had never been personally called by a park ranger before. Apparantly I was the only person to have a reservation to camp on the mountain that entire week, so I caught their attention. He wanted to know if I was aware of the conditions in the Park.
He said the trail head parking lot is on the Blue Ridge Parkway which is closed due to deep snow. Then the camp site I had reserved has no water, so I will have to carry all I need for two days. And the only spring where water is available on the trail to my camp site is frozen over and not running. Then the trail itself is iced over and covered with deep snow. Not only would these conditions make for difficult hiking, but the mountain is so steep and rugged that even in clear, warm, dry weather some steps can be difficult and dangerous. Under deep snow the steps would be invisible and even more dangerous. Finally, the temperature is expected to be about 5 degrees, with a wind chill factor well below 0 degrees.
I said that I am 68 years old, my family has owned a cabin near Grandfather since I was born, where I often stay. I have hiked, camped and backpacked on every trail in every season and weather condition, so I expected these factors. The ranger fell all over himself apologizing for insulting my experience.
I laughed and said that my experience tells me not to go on this trip. Even if I could handle it and survive, I am not in that strong shape physically and I would be miserably cold. I thanked him profusely for being concerned about my safety and for contacting me as a precaution. We chatted for a while more about the Park before hanging up.
This trip is the first one in my life that I have cancelled due to bad weather conditions and my own lack of acclimation and physical shape. I suppose this situation is a condescension to my aging, and maybe to my getting a little bit wiser.
A good time was had by all snuggling on the couch in front of the open wood stove and drinking hot chocolate.
These items of camp and backpacking gear are all in excellent condition. Nothing worn out or broken. Several items are new or refurbished by the manufacturer and are like new. All sale prices are negotiable and I will take the best offer. Some are to give away for free. The first person to buy a white gas item will get a fresh gallon of white gas free.
Bladder hose $10
MSR Whisperlight stove $75
Playtpus water bladders $15
LL Bean battery lantern $30
Camera tripods $25
Pocket camera $50
Coffee percolator $25
Coleman white gas stove $50
Liquid gas fuel bottles $20
Coleman Peak One gas lantern $50
Pack towls $10
Coleman propane heater $30
Closed cell foam pads $0
Soap case $0
Ten stakes $5
Foldable water bucket $15
MSR Sweetwater water filter $50.
On the two chllly fall days of November 5 and 20, 2020, Ranger Bob joined his boon companion Bill Booth for two trout fishing days on the Linville River headweaters in Linville Land Harbor, between Linville and Newland, NC. The weather was plesantly sunny and clear both days. November 20 was cold enough that for the first time this year I crunched through ice formed on the edges of the river. I was well insulated in chest waders, a pile suit and long under wear, but still, standing waist deep in the chilly flowing water for several hours was enough to numb my outer limbs.
The second day we were joined by Bills local friend Rick Leonard, who is nice guy. He gave me several fishing tips to get more hits on my lure, then he took the photo and video published here.
On the first day Bill and I caught about 10 robust trout, mostly browns and rainbows. On the second day Bill had to leave mid-morning for a family errand. Rick and I hit a deep pool at the right time and for two sessions of about 20 minutes each, we got a bite on nearly every cast. But we did not catch that many fish. Many of the bites were light or trailing so we could not set the hook but on about every third or fourth cast.
Both days we released all the fish. The rule is that a fisherman can keep three trout. Next time I go I plan to take a creel and keep a couple to eat that night.
On the cloudy and cool day of Sunday, November 15, 2002, Ranger Bob took a pre-Thanksgiving hike on the main loop over the top of the mountain and down by the water fall in Stone Mountain State Park. There were a substantail number of other hikers but no congestion. I was alone on the trail for much of the trip.
For about four years I have suffered from getting out of breath which is triggered by starting any kind of strenuous activity. The problem is caused by post traumautic stress disorder from a scuba diving accident. I was in serious trouble on the bottom of ocean at about 100 foot depth, afraid I would drown and came close to fatally panicking. Since then I have been tested by four doctors for cardiovascular and pulmonary functions. All the tests came back negative, meaning I am fully physically healthy. The PTSD is psychological, and there is no cure except for me to get used to it and control it as best I can.
I have already learned to control the breathlessness while playing tennis. I can play hard and get out of physical breath but not suffer PTSD. I don't know how I did this. About 9 montsh ago it just started working. I suppose it is because I play tennis so often - sometimes three times a week.
On this hike I made good progress on controlling the PTSD while hiking. I did not suffer any bouts of psychological breathlessness. To do so I hiked exceedingly slowly and made a conscious effort to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells around me. I purposefully did not dwell on getting up the mountain with any speed. I still felt the normal occasions of physical breathlessness from hiking up a steep mountain, but I enjoyed the opportunity to be outside, rather than worrying about how long it would take me to get to the top.
It appears that in the future when I hike, bike, backpack or otherwise engage in strenous exercise that I will be going slowly. That means I will either be by myself; or I will be traveling with patient and understanding companions.
On the chilly, sunny, windy afternoon of November 1, 2020, a friend from the Women Who Wander hiking club joined me for a hike to the top of Rich Mountain at the western end of Cone Estate Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Watauga County. She lives near Banner Elk with the headwaters of the Watauga River in her back yard, so we were both familiar with this trail.
After the hike we planned to eat a picnic at an open air table in the Park, but by then it was too dark, windy and cold. So we went to my family's cabin on Shulls Mill Road and ate in the dining room. My friend provided the victuals which were made by Maw's Produce in Foscoe, NC. It was delicious and we enjoyed the bottle of white wine she provided.
On the Halloween afternoon of October 31, 2020, Ranger Bob traveled to Eustace Conway's Turtle Island Preserve to be a volunteer at a Festival celebrating outdoor activities like black smithing and deer hide tanning. The TIP staff conducted a silent auction of donated goods as a fund raiser. Other staff cooked a large, deliciious supper made from locally grown or sourced meats, vegetables, fruits, cheeses and breads. The main food was a whole pig smoked in the ground at TIP that afternoon.
I was tasked with managing the wine station. Knowing nothing about wine except that I like Moscato, I opened and set out most of the bottles. Then I pretty much let the guests serve themselves. Most of them seemed to appreciate the opportunity to pour themselves about double the normal serving.
Well after dark (there are no electric lignts on TIP) I pulled out my wisely carried flash light, made my way through the woods to my Jeep and headed home.
For sale: by Joe and Lisa Samuel of Linville Land Harbor, Newland, NC, a used canoe. Located at Bob Laney's house in Lynnwoode subdivision, North Wilkesboro, NC. Call Bob at 336-984-6860 or email at email@example.com for more information or to make an offer.
Description: Perception brand canoe, black hull, silver gunnels and thwarts, two black seats, includes two fiberglass and carbon paddles. Paddles high quality and like new. Hull made of Royalex ABS, the toughest and lightest canoe material available. Gunnels and thwarts made of aluminum. Length 15 feet 6 inches. Width 35 inches. Can be paddled tandem (two persons) or solo with one person in the front seat facing backward. All material original except for rebuilt padded seats, ropes and string. Weight about 75 pounds. Made for sturdiness and bouncing off rocks. About 40 years old but in nearly new condition. Hull, gunnels and thwarts have nearly no damage. Minimal scratches on the outer hull, but no dents, tears or holes. Large carrying capacity good for day trips with flotation, multi-day canoe camping or large family outiings. Good for lakes, rivers, estuaries, flat water or white water. Has added string over the interior to hold in items.
Internet prices: the same make and model used in worse shape lists for $800. A similar quality and style new boat of a different name brand with less sturdiness lists for $1,300. Paddes $100 each.
Asking price: $700.
The late summer and early fall 2020 saw excessive amounts of rain in north west NC. I had three river canoe trips cancelled by outfitters Zaloo's Canoes and New River Outfitters due to high water levels making being on the water dangerous. On the Sunday of September 20 Michael Brown, MIchael Cooper and I tried again. We carpooled to New River Outfitters on the South Fork of the New River where it crosses US 221 in south east Ashe County. The river was way high but NRO agreed it was runnable.
On this trip we parked at the NRO lower lot and were shuttled upstream to the put-in. I had my solo canoe outfitted with flotation and the two Michaels rented sit-on-top kayaks. After a round of photographs, Brown and Cooper got in their boats. They politely waited in the water near the put-in for me to get in my boat. But the current quickly carried them away down river, under the tall bridge and out of sight around the curve.
I slid my boat down the steep, rocky and muddy bank to the water. There was no convenient place to stand, and from my location I was too high above the water to actually hold on to my boat. I stupidly did not hold onto a rope tied to the boat to keep it under control. As I lowered the boat the last foot into the water it pulled out of my hand. As I squatted lower to reach down, my foot slipped and I fell forward onto a rock. In one second the strong current pulled the boat away from the bank and out of my reach. When I turned to look down stream and tried to grab the boat I lost my balance and fell again. For the first time in my 57 year outdoor career, I had lost my boat and was stranded on the shore with no way to get it. All my gear was in the boat, including my wallet and Jeep keys. I was fearful that the empty boat would snag on a rock or tree, sink and never be found. I was truly up the creek without a paddle and semi-panicked.
I jumped in the river and half-swam, half-waded after the boat. The heavy current shoved me forward and the muddy water kept me from seeing the large rocks on the river bed. I was constantly knocked off balance, stumbled against big rocks and sank up to my neck. My canoe kept moving away faster. Soon it was at the river curve and almost out of sight. So I turned upstream and tried to get back to the put-in. This move engendered more banged knees and shins on big, invisible rocks. I switched paths and tried to walk on the bank. Steep, rocky, muddy banks caused more falls. When I got to higher ground, I was wading through poison ivy and briers. Finally at the put-in, both my legs were streaming with mud and blood and I was breathing as hard as if I had run a mile at top speed.
Luckily, I had my phone in my life jacket pocket. Further fortunatelly, it was in a water proof case. I called NRO and requested the shuttle driver to come pick me up and take me to the next bridge about three miles down stream. Then I called Brown but his phone was in his dry bag and he could not hear it ring. Most fortunately, he was wearing an Apple watch and heard it buzz. Eventually he dug out his phone; we connected and agreed to a plan. I directed him to pull over to the side of the river and wait for my boat to drift down to him. Actually, he is a strong paddler from years of rowing crew in college. So he paddled back upstream until my boat came into sight.
Brown corraled the loose boat, tied the painter (the rope atached to the bow (the front of the boat)] to his leg and wrangled it down stream. He was careful to pull my boat in close while going through rapids so it did not get stuck on a rock and pull his boat out of control. We finally met at the middle bridge. I was able to get back in my boat and paddle together to our next stop. At the New River State Park, US 221 Access, we pulled over and ate lunch at a camp site.
The rest of the day was uneventful and we had a pleasant paddle to the take-out at the NRO lower parking lot. A good time was had by all.
The weather was clear, sunny and warm on July 26, 2020, when I paddled my canoe on the New River in Ashe County. I hired the New River Outfitters in south east Ashe County to shuttle me up stream about 7 miles for their "intermediate" trip. I was paddling solo in my medium size Dagger Reflection 15. The river was medium high from recent rains so the current was moving well. With moderatle paddling mixed with coasting along to enjoy the scenery I made the trip in about 2.5 hours. Even with this fairly short mileage and time on the river, I still got several small blisters on my thumbs. Thankfully I had my Northwest River Supplies paddling gloves with me which I wore for the last two miles.
I did not see another canoe and few kayaks. The majority of river floaters were meandering along in rental inner tubes with attached tubes toting coolers full of beer. I was offered a cold beer by three groups so I took two of them.
One difference on this trip from prior outings I that I did not over pack gear. Traditionally I take every piece of equipment that I may need and have too much stuff. It is pain to tote around so much volume and weight of things. This time I only took true necessities, like a canteen of water and a camera. A good time was had with lots of exercise, fresh air and joking with the tubers.
On the sunny, hot day of July 12, 2020, I took a nice wooded hike on the Boone Fork Trail in Price Park, Watauga County, NC.
The most notable event was that due to recent rains and abnormally muddy trail, at one steep location I slipped and skinned my shin, knee and forearm.
On a more positive note I was using a new water bladder and drinking hose system that worked well.
The trip was good fun, good exercise and I saw many other hikers enjoying the outdoors with me.