In late spring of 1995, my friend Ed Martin called me to go backpacking in Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Ed is like Jim Smoak, a tall, strong, rangy guy who is a natural backpacker. Ed was a Morehead Scholar at UNC Chapel Hill, which requires both brains and athleticism. He still has plenty of both. On this trip he invited about three other guys, all good buddies from First Baptist Church North Wilkesboro, which we both attended, or from Lowe's, where Ed worked.
Mike Shouse was mine and Wally Van Meter's most adventuresome buddy. He was from Louisiana. Due to some experimental medicine his mother was on while she was pregnant with Mike, he never got cavities in his teeth. He liked grand adventures, such as when he was about 18 years old, he took his father's yacht and a friend on a thousand mile cruise around the Gulf of Mexico to Central America. Or some years later he piloted a hot air balloon into the middle of the Pisgah National Forest, landed among the trees and had to hike out for miles.
On the bright, sunny, cool fall Sunday afternoon of October 23, 2016, I took a solo hike around the Boone Fork Trail in Julian Price Park, on the Blue Ridge Parkway just north of Grandfather Mountain. There were plenty of other hikers on the trails, of all ages, genders, colors, sizes and whatever.
One stormy Saturday, around the end of November, maybe in the early 1990's, I made my first double traverse day hike of Grandfather Mountain. That is, I started at the bottom of the mountain at NC Hwy 105, climbed the Profile Trail, traversed the all the peaks the length of the mountain on the Grandfather Trail, to the Swinging Bridge, then back to the Profile Trail and so to the bottom of the mountain in the same day.
Last week I wrote about hiking on the Boone Fork Trail in Price Park. I mentioned that it was a poor season for fall leaf color. Well, I was a week too early. On Sunday, October 30, 2016, I hiked on the (confusingly named) Boone Scout Trail on the east side of Grandfather Mountain. Colors were every where! Driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway from Deep Gap to Grandfather Mountain was like looking through a kaleidoscope.
Sometime around early winter in the late 1980's Dwayne Morrison, President of the Northwest Outing Club, planned a long weekend backpacking trip to Mount Mitchell. I went along, together with a friend of Dwayne's from Morganton. I drove my big, old Bronco with the granny gear to pick up Dwayne from his house on NC-115 south of Wilkesboro and pick up his friend from Morganton.
Bob Laney, Dan Bumgarner and Landon Alfriend (later Dunn) had the idea to go on a New River camping trip on a summer weekend in the late 1980's. Landon's boyfriend Jimmy Stevens, the president of the Northwest Outing Club and a major paddler, was not available. Dan's wife Pat was not able to participate in such strenuous outdoor adventures, and Bob's (former) wife Kimberly had a conflict.
On one of those rare, sunny days when there is literally no cloud in the sky, from horizon to horizon, my law partner Mike Cooper and I went hiking to the three state corners of North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Both of us had been told that there is a hill nearby called Pond Mountain which has a trail to the top, and from where you can see many miles in all three states.
I'll admit it. I was spoiled. The first time in my life that I went trout fishing was the best place I have been fishing in the 27 years since.
In the summer of 1987, I was the beneficiary of a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend deal. Joe Samuel was my Wilkes County good buddy. Bill Booth was his college hall-mate. Bill had recently become my hunting and fishing mentor. Bill's next door neighbor growing up in Rutherfordton, NC, was Billy Cunningham. Billy had a job working for a Las Vegas, NV, heavy construction equipment company. The company owned a ranch in southwest Utah with a lodge for entertaining customers. The lodge had some of the best spring creek trout fishing waters out west. Billy organized a group of eight North Carolina friends to join him for a week. Thanks to Bill, I was the recipient of the tail end of that invitation chain.