Over the weekend of October 23 - 25, 2015, Chip Wiles and Robbie Russell planned a backpacking, camping and trout fishing trip to Harpers Creek Wilderness, Wilson Creek Valley, Pisgah National Forest, between Grandfather Mountain and Collettsville. They graciously invited me (Bob Laney) to accompany them.
My friend, web site designer and manager Matt Van Buskirk told me that I need to learn how to upload videos to my Blue Ridge Outings web site. So far I have mostly posted still photos; while rarely copying a video from other friends, including Paul Anders and David Smith, which I would send to Matt to upload for me. This past week Matt laid down the law. He said that he is adding a video upload function which I am deputized to utilize. 'Go make some videos' he instructed me. So I did.
I first met Stan Treski on an Ed Martin lead backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail in Great Smokey Mountain National Park about 20 years ago. I remembered him as a well-conditioned guy and a strong hiker. I don't recall seeing him since. Serendipitously, I ran into to him a couple weeks ago eating lunch at Talia's with his brother -in-law Keith Johnston. We renewed our acquaintance and I invited him to go with me and several other guys on a backpacking trip in Grand Teton National Park this coming August. He had a conflict with the August trip, but we agreed to join on some hikes before then to help me get in shape for that committing trip.
Eustace Conway's Turtle Island Preserve (TIP) is a great place to spend a day or three. I like to go there to get back to my roots of working on a farm, which I did nearly every day of my youth. Plus, I needed to buy some firewood and replace my chopping block which had recently disintegrated from over-use. So, on Saturday, February 6, 2016, I arranged to go there for the day, get a load of wood and help with the farm chores.
Over the weekend of March 5, 2016, Terri and I drove to Atlanta, GA, to join her brothers Robin and David, and their spouses, in celebration of Terri's mother Pat McGriff's birthday. Saturday morning Robin, who is a commercial jet pilot, invited me to go on an adventure while the ladies went shopping. I said 'Sure!'
Over the weekend of April 16, 2016, I went backpacking in Stone Mountain State Park. This is my first trip in training for backpacking in Grand Teton National Park next August. As often happens, I waited too late to plan the trip, so I decided to go alone rather than try to recruit any fellow campers. Stone Mountain has a section of the park in the northwest quadrant designated for backpacking. The campsites are located about halfway up the mountain from the main valley at Stone Mountain Creek towards the crest of the Blue Ridge at the Blue Ridge Parkway near Devils Garden Overlook.
I have been canoe camping many times. And I have been sea kayaking a few times. But the week of May 30, 2016, was the first time I have been sea kayaking and camping at the same time. My planning and packing went well - I did not need anything left behind, and I used about everything I took with me. From Monday through Thursday I was at the southern Outer Banks at the North Carolina coast. The trip went first to Cedar Point campground in Croatan National Forest near Bogue Banks (now called Emerald Island); and then on to Bear Island at Hammocks Beach State Park near Swansboro, NC.
Once again Jim and JoAnn Caudill led their annual paddling trip on the Tuckaseegee River in southwestern North Carolina. This year we went during mid-week from July 11 - 14, 2016. Also on the trip were yours truly (Bob Laney), Larry and Brenda Anderson, and Max and Jane Joines. The river is dammed upstream and the flow is usually too low to produce whitewater rapids. The river managers publish the whitewater release dates, which Jim determines and sets our schedule.
The week of August 13 - 20, 2016, Jim Smoak, John Willardson, Drew Willardson and I went backpacking in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. The original impetus for the trip was that I had been on several prior hiking and backpacking trips to GTNP and I had approached a particularly high altitude and somewhat difficult trail section called Paintbrush Divide two times - once each from the north and the south. Both times I was feeling tired by that part of the trip and had taken a bail out route; I had not crossed the divide. I suggested this trip for the purpose of crossing Paintbrush Divide and the Willardsons agreed to go. Then Jim Smoak joined us, and he and his wife Luci graciously offered to host us by running our shuttles to and from the airport, the trailheads and allowing us to stay at their cabin in Moose, WY, the days when we were not on the trail. Jim also provided us the supplies that could not be brought with us on the airplane - bear spray and stove fuel.
On October 24, 2003, I hiked Grandfather Mountain - the hard way. I started from NC-105 at the bottom of the Profile Trail about 8:30 a.m. The rangers on duty nicely told me I could expect clear and abnormally warm weather. They were right.