Doughton Park Rehabilitation

Starting the trail with Deena.

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.


We went to Doughton Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway, between Wilkes County and Alleghany County. Thanks to the pleasant weather we saw several small groups of other hikers on the trail, including a retired couple driving their motor home camper from a Florida vacation to Canada. Along the way, on NC Hwy 18 north and the Parkway, we saw big bunches of brightly blooming flowers, like purple Catawba rhododendron, red roses and orange flame azalea.

Our route started at the Parkway at the bottom of Alligator Back hill. We climbed Bluff Mountain and took a break in the trail shelter at the top of Bluff Ridge Primitive Trail. Most of the trails were in good shape, with just a few mud holes and one place blocked by a downed rhododendron bush. From the shelter we followed the Bluff Mountain Trail across the grassy balds to the closed lodge. After hiking past the lodge to Wildcat Rocks we stopped for lunch. I sat in the grass so I could lean back and stretch out, but Deena found that by standing at the edge of the cliff we could receive a steady breeze, which was a welcome cooling relief.

In the afternoon we re-traced our morning route back to the parking lot below Alligator Back, covering about six miles total. Storm clouds threatened, but it did not rain on us until we got back home to North Wilkesboro.

Deena found that she could hike okay, but her foot was still sore. I found that I could hike okay, but my hip was still sore. My biggest problem was my breathing issue which has bothered me for about four years. Walking on level ground and downhill is fine. But moderate to steep uphills make me gasp. After several hours of concentration and effort, I maybe, partially, got a handle on reducing the breathing difficulty. I guess future outings will show me if I can actually handle the problem. A good time was had by all.

Bob Laney

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Bob is the site curator and writer of Blue Ridge Outing. Since starting the Blue Ridge Outing travel blog in 2002, Bob has written, recorded and documented countless expeditions in the US and around the world.