On October 11, 2021, Ranger Bob (me, Bob Laney) met with two retired gentlemen from Greensboro, NC, Steve and Rick, who are experienced and expert hikers. I was introduced to them by a mutual friend in Wilkes County. Steve has explored and mapped on his GPS many dozens of unofficial trails in Stone Mountain State Park. He has found dozens of unmapped waterfalls, about 300 old cabin sites and 80 moonshine stills. He reports that he knows more than the park rangers about all the geographical and cultural features.
We hiked on the Tanawha Trail beside the Blue Ridge Parkway on Grandfather Mountain from Wilson Creek to Rough Ridge. The map said it was only 1.4 miles but the trail was so steep, muddy and rocky in places that it took us a few hours. After reaching Rough Ridge we ate a trail lunch. Then we carpooled to Beacon Heights for a short hike and long view. The weather vacillated from clear blue sky to heavy fog. Fortunately we had enough clear weather near the top of the trail to get some nice long view photos. We used two cars to run our shuttle between trail heads.
Steve and Rick are about my age and nice guys. Their pace was as close to mine as anybody that I have hiked with in a long time. On average I was a little slower and took a few more breaks. But they always waited for me when I stopped and never got far enough ahead to lose sight of me.
A few years ago I was in a dangerous scuba diving situation in the Caribbean Sea near Mexico, thought I might die and panicked. I was at the bottom of the ocean about 100 feet deep, swimming against a strong current, being blown out of a coral canyon about 30 feet high into the next canyon, where I could not see my scuba guide. I did not know how to find the route through the canyons and caves we were traversing and was afraid of getting lost, being abandoned by the boat and dying in the open ocean. Adrenaline pumped into my blood which made me even more panicked and breathless. I felt like I needed more air faster than would feed from my tank.
I eventually saved myself. As a result I developed post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]. I have been scuba diving about 10 times since then with no negative effects. But when I am on land some of the same factors can occur and bring on PTSD.
On the Tanawha Trail last Monday multiple things went wrong at the same time. The trail turned steeply uphill, was covered by large unstable rocks, mud, and slick roots. My glasses fogged over. I started stumbling and falling. Steve and Rick did not see my trouble and hiked ahead almost out of sight. I did not know the trail and needed a guide. And I suddenly needed to go to the bathroom!
I could feel PTSD coming on and said to myself, I am about to get into several hours of agony. Then, before the PTSD could take effect, in just a few seconds, it went away! The credit for that cure goes to my Wilkes County friend Laura Gentry. For a couple weeks I had been taking her NeurOptimal course at her house. It uses a computer, program, electrodes attached to my head, visual and auditory effects. The program trains your brain to recognize a mental problem coming on and switch your thought patterns to something that is not stressful. Contact me if you want to confer with Laura.
A good time was had by all.