Sunday, May 20, 2012


The last day I hiked was Friday, May 17. I got in 10 miles before Steve picked me up at a road crossing for a long weekend at home. The 10 miles were sometimes easy, sometimes difficult. The rain of May 14-15 has left much of the Trail under water.

These are not creeks. It's the Trail. On the tree to the left of center, you see the white blaze marking the way. Actually it was hard to follow the blazes, because it wasn't possible to walk on the Trail. Walking parallel nearby (often under water, too, or ankle-deep in mud) made it harder to keep the blazes in sight and stay on the trail.

OK, here's a picture of a creek. The picture actually doesn't do it justice.
I came upon this shortly after Steve dropped me back off on the Trail, the day after the rain. I had taken a day off because the Weather Channel was calling for 1-2 inches of rain just during the day. It didn't rain quite that much, but it rained a lot, and this was the result. The fallen tree is the way across, but half of it is covered by fast, swirling floodwater.  I walked up and down the shore a little, as much as I could anyway, since it was quite brushy, looking for a shallower, calmer place to cross, but this creek was big and it was flooded. I wished some people would come along so we could make a human chain.  Finally I thought, I can wade it, to the right of the log. The current will just push me against the log, which will stabilize me. So I stowed everything that can't get wet: phone, camera, data pages, lunch, in my pack; took off and stowed my socks and put my shoes back on -- I needed them to protect me from the creek bottom but at least I'd be able to put dry socks back on without digging in my pack to find my clothing bag. I put the pack back on with just the shoulder straps, loosened; no hip or chest belt. I wanted to be able to shrug the pack off easily if something bad happened. Just when I was starting up those planks, I heard a shout on the other side. Thank goodness.... there's help! It was a man. It was my HUSBAND!!! He'd started to wait for me where the Trail crosses the road again, to surprise me, but then saw the creek and got out, saw me wandering around looking for a crossing place. So he jumped the guard rail and came down the hill to tell me to go back up and go around. Well, I couldn't go around. What he couldn't see was another deep, flooded creek flowing into this one, and farther up from that, a large flooded swamp I'd walked over on a plank boardwalk (thanks to the AT workers who put that there.) Ultimately, I walked all the way back to where he'd dropped me off, probably close to half a mile, walked down the road to where he was waiting, and he drove me past the creek to the next trail crossing. So I "yellow blazed" a quarter mile or so. "Yellow blazing" refers to skipping sections of the Trail by getting a ride (the "yellow blaze" being the center line in the road.) This is sort of frowned upon by many hikers, but the context is important. There are all kinds of ways to hike the Appalachian Trail. Some purists insist on passing (or even touching) every single white blaze. Many people hike just a section at a time, often over years or even decades. Some take "blue blaze" paths -- alternate routes around difficult or dangerous sections; others stick to the white blazes come hell or high water. And some people hike a portion, drive or get a ride to another area, hike that, and so on. What is frowned upon is taking this approach but claiming to have hiked it all.

I think yellow-blazing past a flooded creek is justifiable for a 60-year-old solo hiker. I bless my husband for finding me in the situation and getting me out of it.

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