Over the days of August 23 - 26, 2017, I went camping and hiking in Grayson Highland State Park, VA, with my hiking buddy Annelise. This Park is part of the greater Mount Rogers National Recreational Area, in the Jefferson National Forest. Mount Roger is a few miles north-west of the Park and is the highest point in Virginia. The Appalachian Trail traverses the northern edge of the Park.
On September 16, 2017, I went hiking at several sites on the Blue Ridge Parkway between Asheville, NC, and the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. My hiking buddy was Annelise. We first drove down the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoyed many views in the clear, warm late summer air. Our first stop was at the Mount Pisgah Recreation Area. I had some hikes mapped out to explore here, but we found so many places to go that we decided to concentrate on three waterfall hikes. The helpful staff at the Mount Pisgah Lodge store gave us directions to the places we chose.
During the week and two weekends of September 29 through October 8, 2017, my buddy Paul Anderson and I went scuba diving on the Caribbean island of Bonaire, which is adjacent to Aruba and Curacao and just north of the Venezuelan coast. We were diving with David Smith and his wife Hilda who snorkeled each day. When Paul and I returned home, David and Hilda stayed another week and were joined by others of their family members for more diving. This was about my third trip to the island and 75th dive; it was about Paul's seventh visit to the island and 275th dive; and about David's twelfth trip to the island and 275th dive.
Most of my hiking and back packing career I have been traveling under the influence of tough hike leaders. All persons are different in all kinds of ways. A hiking or backpacking group of two or more persons is going to have someone who is faster and stronger; and someone who is slower and weaker. A tough hike leader is one who is faster, and who won’t mitigate his or her pace to accommodate the slower ones. Of course, the same dichotomy applies to any group endeavor – biking, canoeing or whatever.
On the beautiful, sunny Saturday of May 4, 2019, Deena Thomas and I took a rehabilitation hike. About two months earlier she had surgery on her foot, and I had hip joint replacement surgery. Our doctors told us to start exercising, but it will be several more months before we will be fully (hopefully) recuperated. The weekend before we walked three miles on the North Wilkesboro Greenway. Today would be our first post-operation mountain hike.
The Laurel Fork Gorge is a river valley that is traversed by the Appalachian Trail. It lies just west of where Dennis Cove Road crosses the A.T., northeast of Hampton, TN, and a few miles east of Lake Watauga. The Gorge is known for having a section of the trail that crosses a narrow rock ledge right in the edge of the water. In the course of hiking the A.T., I went through Laurel Fork Gorge quite a few times in the late 1970's and early 1980's, in several hot and cold seasons.
One weekend during late November in 1977, Ranger Bob and a group of his family and Sunday school classmates from Forest Hills Baptist Church went on a backpacking trip to Mount Mitchell, NC. We were expecting cold weather, but none of us considered ourselves to be true, hard-core winter campers, nor were we prepared for temperatures in the single digits.
One long weekend near the end of law school, my apartment mate Jim McKinney and I went on a winter backpacking trip to Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Planning the trip and providing our snowshoes was Jims buddy from Maryville, TN (whose name I am sorry I forgot).
In my early days as Ranger Bob, during college and law school, my outdoor buddies and I took many backpacking trips to Linville Gorge. We often took the loop route from Kistler Memorial Highway down the Conley Cove trail, up the Linville Gorge Trail beside the Linville River to Sandy Flats (no longer on the map, located where the spring is marked by the river on the trail southeast of Wiseman's View), further up the river to the Babel Towers Trail and back down Kistler Memorial Highway to the Conley Cove Trail head.