[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[at-l] day hike

I left out early this morning to go over to north GA to visit my section.
Boy! that sounds so good to say.............errrr, I mean to
write........well, it doesn't make any sound when I write it. No, what I
mean is.........never mind.

We had some rain begin late Saturday night and all this morning there was
a thick fog so my travel over to Hog Pen Gap was slow. I recently
acquired a CD of folk music played by string instruments. I had made a
tape to have in my truck and I played it about a dozen times as I poked
along. Once at the parking area at Hog Pen Gap, I was surprised to see it
was almost full of cars. Some little disappointment crawled up beside me
and suggested I was going to have a less than perfect day hike: "Hopeful,
party of one. Sir, there will be just a 55 minute wait before we are able
to let you set foot on the AT."

Most of the cars were newer than my old truck..............not that it is
hard to find lots of cars newer than my truck.........so I immediately
began to sulk about yuppies and their SUVs. Well, my pouting was for
naught. I don't know where all the folks were but they were not between
Hog Pen Gap and Low Gap shelter. I decided to eat part of my lunch before
starting so I could reduce my day pack by one liter of water and one
sandwich. As I was finishing, a group of 4 men, fathers I assumed, and
about 6 boys emerged from the Trail. By the time I had my pack on, they
had loaded up and were leaving. Thus ended my encounter with SUV drivers.

It must have taken a full 50, or maybe as many as 60 steps on the AT
before my attitude began to change. The road noise became harder and
harder to hear and the peace and quiet gradually filled up my whole soul.
I have this habit of trying to walk without making any noise; I picked
back up this behavior almost as soon as I was aware that the sound of
cars and motorcycles could almost no longer be heard. My foot fall on the
damp leaves was almost noiseless so I concentrated on carefully placing
my hiking sticks, trying to achieve stealth, I had much pleasure from my

For all my efforts, I must have actually been very noisy. My woodland
neighbors complained to one another of my presence. Oh, they are not so
clever as they thought for I was fully aware that they were purposely
being just loud enough for me to hear and yet maintain airs of social
propriety. Such low rating and nay saying I've never endured. How rude.
At first it was just the jays and the woodpeckers who fussed about how
the community was coming to no good end. Imagine the jays saying such,
why if that ain't the pot calling the kettle black. Next, I notice how
the ground squirrels were darting from house to house, carrying gossip as
they went. I could not actually see, but I'm sure I heard several of them
snickering at me and pointing too, but only after I had passed. Mrs
Grouse was down right insulting. Did she bid me good morning as I came
up? Lands no! Why as soon as I reached her yard she turned and flew off
in a complete huff. It was pure spite. She could have left before I was
close at hand, but no, she had to wait until I was well at hand so the
insult would be complete. The tree were embarrassed by all this. Oft
times, I heard their heavy sighs and there was almost always a distant
mummer of disapproval. At least they had the courtesy to keep their
voices low and respectful.

It was only today that I realized that the magic mist is always friendly.
On several occasions I've been under the dense blanket of white and was
almost fearful thinking that the mist was trying to deprive me of the
sun's warm glow. Today, as I had to repeatedly endure insult, I noticed
that when the jays would become particularly cruel in both word and deed,
it was then that the mist would put on a magic show for me. Time and
again, I found me watching in full amazement as the mist changed from
light to shadow, from fog to patchy sky and then back to a chilling and
refreshing breeze. How annoyed the jays were that I could so completely
ignore their rudeness and be wholly absorbed in the kindness of the

There is a place just north of Poor Mt where the side of the ridge falls
steeply away, to the west, and here it forms a deep notch in the side of
the mountain. The notch ends right at trail side, almost to the crest but
it forms no gap. As I got near to this feature I was puzzled because I
could not see any more of the ridge ahead. At first I assumed that the
sudden appearance of the sun was playing tricks with my eyes. I was
accustomed to the dim light under the fog and suddenly the forest seemed
to explode into starlets and jewels and rainbow colored prisms. As I
looked closer and my feet gained me a better position, I could see that a
narrow ribbon of dense fog was rolling up the ridge side, coming out of
that deep notch. It silently snaked its way over the crest top and then
distilled into the woodland below. The wall of mist moved like a veil,
obscuring the trail ahead. Walking through it, I soon learned that the
ribbon was only 10 or 12 yards wide and on either side the sun was
calling attention to first one jeweled leaf and then another. So quickly
as the sun had popped in to say hello, it darted away behind the clouds
to attend to urgent business elsewhere. I was left to survey the miracle
of God's mist ribbon, once again in dim light.

Ho! did the jays ever try to frazzle me after that, but their efforts
were all wasted. All the SUVs in the world, all the rude neighbors
fussing about intruders and the good old days were without edge. All the
criticisms were blunted and I hiked along without noticing them. My
survey was 8.4 miles long, in and back, and in the 8 hours I removed two
blow downs and took half and hour to eat the rest of my lunch at Low Gap
shelter. As I placed brush and limbs on the turn out paths that had been
formed around the two blow downs, I had to chuckle to my own self.
"There, you jays," I says to me, "how do you like the neighborhood now?"

Juno offers FREE or PREMIUM Internet access for less!
Join Juno today!  For your FREE software, visit: