My nephew Robert Parker joined me (Ranger Bob) the weekend of July 13, 2013, for a backpacking trip to Linville Gorge, NC. The gorge is a designated wilderness area in the Pisgah National Forest, bisected by the Linville River, north of Lake James. Linville Gorge is known for being a rugged place to go, and it really is. The trails are littered with steep, slick rocks, mud holes, grown over with bushes and briars, huge fallen tree trunks that have to be clambered over or squeezed under, and in many places the route simply disappears over long stretches of rocks and roots due to the lack of traffic. Most of the trip it was a nerve wracking effort to see and keep on the trail.
Most of the time, when I go to Grandfather Mountain, I park at a Parkway overlook, or at NC 105, or US-221, and hike to the top. Last year, a law office client of mine who was a Grandfather Mountain employee gave me a pass to the main entrance, entitling me to drive in the front gate and park in the main parking lot at the Swinging Bridge like I was somebody. So, on Saturday September 7, 2013, I did.
A year or so ago a client gave me two vehicle passes to the Grandfather Mountain front country. I used one pass for my trip earlier this month. The other one got used up today. It was a pleasant hike from the Swinging Bridge parking lot to McRae Peak. The trails were not crowded but had a decent number of other persons. The hikers were a diverse lot - from about ages 10 to 70 years, slender and heavy, tall and short, men and women, Caucasian, Oriental and African American.
On Sunday, January 19, 2014, I took a hike in Stone Mountain State Park. Instead of going on the traditional trail over Stone Mountain peak, I went to the back country. There are six back county camp sites in the northwest part of the park - as opposed to the car camping camp sites in the northeast part of the park. To get to the back country sites you have to backpack in your gear.
Over the summer week of July 8 - 13, 2007, Paul Anderson arranged a scuba diving trip for himself and Bob Laney to Key Largo, Florida. After arriving at the Keys, we did two dives each day for two days, then took a rest day to hike the local state parks, and returned to the water to dive twice more for one day, then took a final rest day to off gas excess nitrogen prior to our return flight.
For our July 4 holiday in 2007, Debbie and Bob Laney decided to spend a part of the day paddling on the South Fork of the New River in Ashe County. With so many delectable sections to choose from, we selected the portion from Todd to Fleetwood Falls. After arriving at the river, we perused the section from the road and decided that the upper section was too shallow, so we put in at the intersection of Railroad Grade Road and Brownwood Road, behind the old feed store.
The weekend of April 6 - 8, 2007, saw some of the top tennis players in the world at the Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem. It was the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup with the USA vs. Spain. The US was represented by Andy Roddick (world ranking # 3) and James Blake (# 9) playing singles, and the Brian brothers (# 1) playing doubles. For Spain the players listed included Rafael Nadal (# 2) and several others ranked from # 7 to # 35. Unfortunately, Rafa had a minor injury and did not compete.
To keep from losing my Ranger Bob merit badge for winter backpacking, I needed to go on such a trip some time before spring. It had been several years since I went backpacking at all - probably the last time was with Will McElwee to Max Patch on the Appalachian Trail in southern NC. And it had been a year or so before that since I went backpacking in the winter - probably also with Will on the Nuwati Trail on Grandfather Mountain. So, a couple weeks before the spring equinox - the official start of spring - I planned this trip for the weekend of March 10, 2007.
Sunday evening on February 18, 2007, Carroll Lowe drove to Appalachian Ski Mountain to put in his time as a professional ski patroller. This was his 15th season. He invited me to tag along. I was pleasantly surprised by the good ski conditions in the southern US. This was my first trip back to the Appalachian resort in about 30 years. After having learned to ski there, I grew frustrated with the often warm weather and slushy or crusty snow. In the intervening years I had moved on to larger and higher slopes in Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and Montana.