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Bob Laney

On the (mostly) hot and sunny Saturday of July 24, 2021, Ranger Bob (me, Bob Laney), Gerianne Hannibal and Rose Pawlyszyn biked the New River State Park, VA, trail.  We went downhill from Dannelly Park to Fries Junction, and then back uphill to Fries, VA.  We encountered one intense rain fall, but it only lasted about 30 minutes and did not harm anything.

Rose was our leader.  She had been there a half dozen times. Gerianne and I had been on other NRSP sections, but this trip was our first to this section.  We covered 26 miles on a smooth, gently rolling trail which was a converted railroad bed.  The uphills and downhills were well graded and mild.

Ranger Bob lost at least two outdoor sports merit badges, maybe three, on this trip because of my poor performance. I have been on many long, tough trips; like backpacking 60 miles through the Wind River Range, WY, in deep snow drifts and many places with no trail; or canoeing 70 miles on the Shenandoah River; or backpacking the Highline Trail in Grand Teton National Park.  But this trip was the most exhausting and painful I have ever experienced. 

The trouble was not the trail or terrain. Rose and Gerianne handled the entire trip easily.  I was operating under several disabilities.  First, I am about 40 pounds too fat, which is a lot of weight to push even 5 miles. Next, I was carrying a 20 pound pack full of gear, like a bicycle tool kit, a first aid kit, a repair and survival kit, rain suit, head lamp and a half gallon of water.  But I did not bring excess water; I ran out about two miles from the end and should have brought a little more. Finally, such a trip would be easy for a biker with a modicum of training.  But I had no training.  I had not been on my bike for two years, except for one day the week before I pedaled 5 miles - not nearly enough training.

By comparison the ladies were slim and trim; carried about two pints of water and no equipment; and had plenty of recent training.

I have seen videos of people running marathons who cannot make it and give out before the end. The runners’ muscles cramp up all over their body, their knees buckle, their arms and legs go spastic, they fall down and sometimes they get nausea or diarrhea.  Their body has shut down.   To a lesser degree, I suffered many of those symptoms.  Four miles from the end my body tried to shut down.  I had to stop every few hundred yards to rest.  Two miles from the end I had to stop pedaling and just walk.

Rose kindly hung back with me to assure I did not get left behind and further in trouble or lost.  When I had to walk she walked with me. When I ran out of water she gave me a pint canteen.  Then she carried my pack for a while.  A half mile from the end Gerianne came back to find us, took my bike and let me just walk.  Then at about a quarter mile Gerianne came running back, took my pack from Rose, put it on and ran back up the trail.  She reminded me of videos of Marine boot camp.

I was more exhausted than I have been in my entire life. I was in major pain in my thighs, hips, butt cheeks, triceps and wrists. Gerianne kindly put my bike in the back of her truck because my triceps were too weak to lift it onto my Jeep roof rack. Then she drove out of her way to bring my bike directly to my house.  Rose and Gerianne are my heroines.

Other than my travails, it was a fine trip!  The scenery of mountain shrubbery, wild flowers, creeks and the immensely wide New River were beautiful.  Rose and Gerianne pedaled coolly and quietly the whole time. We had a lunch at the NRSP family park at Fries, where Rose bought a hot dog loaded with all the fixings. There was a car show and music festival getting organized as we ate.

A good time was had (mostly) by all! Two good things are I have been suffering from plantar fasciitis in my left foot for several months.  It was gone!  And, I lost four pounds!  Only 36 pounds to go.

On the bright, sunny warm Saturday morning of June 26, 2021, Ranger Bob went paddling with Gerianne Hannibal and Rose Pawlyszyn.  Bob was in his solo canoe while Gerianne and Rose were in their sit-in kayaks.  We put in at Zaloo’s Canoes just south of the NC Hwy 88 bridge and paddled to the take out at New River State Park, Wagoner Access. 

The trip was five miles and took two hours of half drifting and half paddling.  There were plenty of shallow rocks and small riffles to steer around, but no rapids.  We all got into the Zen of the time and just about totally relaxed.  We passed a half dozen other paddlers and inner tubers on the river, and a few fishermen.

At the take out we ate our picnic lunches.  Gerianne and Rose were astounded at the heavy weight of my canoe full of gear for potential rescues compared to their kayaks.  A good time was had by all.

Next time we hope to make it a longer trip and may take the 10 mile route.

For Free!  Belgium made (high quality) 16 gauge top break action shotgun.  Fires one shot at a time between breaking open action and reloading another single shell.  Kicks lighter than a standard 12 gauge shotgun..  Good starter gun for a teen ager, woman or other small framed person.  First caller gets the shotgun. 

For sale.  Garmin GPS Map 66i.  New.  Hand held electronic device for hiking, camping, backpacking, hunting, fishing or any outdoor activity.  Combines color screen with map of current location; or any other location to which you can navigate; GPS function that shows your current location; trip planning and route finding; tracking route taken; sending and receiving texts to any reciptient without use of cell phone towers when truly in the wilderness; can be Blue Tooth linked to your cell phone to access your Contacts; weather reports; send SOS rescue request signal to emergency responders; and other functions all obtained from satellites.  Go to and search for Garmin GPSMap 66i for more detailed pictures and descriptions.  Go to the Internet and do a Google search for Garmin GPS Map 66i Manual for a detailed, thorough and easy to read guide book on its operation.  Cost new $600.  Priced to sell at $400.  

Thermarest Pro Lite Apex self-inflating camping and backpacking sleeping pad. Color deep orange. New and never used. Cost $79 new. Priced for sale $55.

L.L. Bean Pathfinder self- inflatable camping & hiking sit pad. Color pine green. New and never used. Cost $25 new. Priced for sale $20.

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

Hammock $15

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.

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