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Bob Laney

In November of 1998 my good friend Bill Booth invited me to join him on an elk hunting trip to the Wyoming Range in west central Wyoming. Our guide and outfitter would be Chuck Thornton. Chuck was a retired game warden from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Bill had already been on several fishing trips with Chuck in the summer with his family. This was to be Bill's first elk hunting trip. I did not want to spend that kind of money, so for a discount, I went without a gun but with fishing gear. I tagged along on the daily hunts and fished in the beaver dammed streams near camp in the evenings.

One winter day in the late 1990's, we got a good snow. I wanted to get a more natural outdoor experience than skiing laps at one of the lift served resort slopes. So I took my cross county skis to Cone Estate on the Parkway outside of Blowing Rock, NC. Cone is laced with carriage paths that make for wonderful walking in the warmer seasons. When covered with snow, the trails are perfect for cross-country skiing. Most winter days find dozens of Boone and Blowing Rock area skiers traversing the horse paths.

In late spring of 1995, my friend Ed Martin called me to go backpacking in Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Ed is like Jim Smoak, a tall, strong, rangy guy who is a natural backpacker. Ed was a Morehead Scholar at UNC Chapel Hill, which requires both brains and athleticism. He still has plenty of both. On this trip he invited about three other guys, all good buddies from First Baptist Church North Wilkesboro, which we both attended, or from Lowe's, where Ed worked.

Mike Shouse was mine and Wally Van Meter's most adventuresome buddy. He was from Louisiana. Due to some experimental medicine his mother was on while she was pregnant with Mike, he never got cavities in his teeth. He liked grand adventures, such as when he was about 18 years old, he took his father's yacht and a friend on a thousand mile cruise around the Gulf of Mexico to Central America. Or some years later he piloted a hot air balloon into the middle of the Pisgah National Forest, landed among the trees and had to hike out for miles.

On the bright, sunny, cool fall Sunday afternoon of October 23, 2016, I took a solo hike around the Boone Fork Trail in Julian Price Park, on the Blue Ridge Parkway just north of Grandfather Mountain. There were plenty of other hikers on the trails, of all ages, genders, colors, sizes and whatever.

One stormy Saturday, around the end of November, maybe in the early 1990's, I made my first double traverse day hike of Grandfather Mountain. That is, I started at the bottom of the mountain at NC Hwy 105, climbed the Profile Trail, traversed the all the peaks the length of the mountain on the Grandfather Trail, to the Swinging Bridge, then back to the Profile Trail and so to the bottom of the mountain in the same day.

Many years before this article was written, a group of friends and I went backpacking on the Appalachian Trail from Yellow Mountain Gap to Hump Mountain. I arbitrarily picked the date of July 1994, but I could be off by 5 years in either direction.

Last week I wrote about hiking on the Boone Fork Trail in Price Park. I mentioned that it was a poor season for fall leaf color. Well, I was a week too early. On Sunday, October 30, 2016, I hiked on the (confusingly named) Boone Scout Trail on the east side of Grandfather Mountain. Colors were every where! Driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway from Deep Gap to Grandfather Mountain was like looking through a kaleidoscope.

Sometime around early winter in the late 1980's Dwayne Morrison, President of the Northwest Outing Club, planned a long weekend backpacking trip to Mount Mitchell. I went along, together with a friend of Dwayne's from Morganton. I drove my big, old Bronco with the granny gear to pick up Dwayne from his house on NC-115 south of Wilkesboro and pick up his friend from Morganton.

Bob Laney, Dan Bumgarner and Landon Alfriend (later Dunn) had the idea to go on a New River camping trip on a summer weekend in the late 1980's. Landon's boyfriend Jimmy Stevens, the president of the Northwest Outing Club and a major paddler, was not available. Dan's wife Pat was not able to participate in such strenuous outdoor adventures, and Bob's (former) wife Kimberly had a conflict.

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