It’s the small things that bring joy to my heart. As I went to sleep, everyone was talking about rain. Well, I woke up and there was no rain. Yeah! I packed up my stuff & headed north. Today I have a new hiker who is traveling with me. He answers to Recon or Airborne, and he’s 75 years old.
As Recon and I start our uphill travel, he tells me a bit about his story. This is his first time backpacking besides what he did in the military. But as he says, that really wasn’t backpacking. He shared with his wife Sandy, of nearly 50 years, that for his 75th birthday he wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. She was thrilled that he wanted to take on such an adventure. I’ll meet you at the annual family reunion in Pennsylvania in July. And that’s how Recon started hiking. He is one tough bird. Just last week, he tripped and hit his head. One day later, after a hospital visit and eight stitches, he was back on the trail!
The rain did come and after about an hour on the trail, it was a downpour. We put on our rain jackets, rain covers over our packs, and I pulled out my handy dandy umbrella. What a lifesaver that is! We made it to Wayah Bald Tower. This is a spectacular viewing platform that you can climb and see for miles in all directions. Except today. It was rainy, foggy and misty so no views to be had. We hung out for a moment and then continued down the trail.
Recon and I trekked down to the closest shelter, Wayah Shelter. It was covered on three sides and had a large overhang that accommodated many wet and cold hikers. The Englishman had coffee brewing and offered my friend and I black coffee, the one and only option. Perfect, just the way I like it! It was hot, strong and hit the spot. We sat for a bit and all the other drowned rats, dirty filthy hikers, arrived. We enjoyed each other’s company, talked of woes and concerns of the trail, how long the rain would last and where would we camp?
The “Walking Wounded” arrived. They were the group Ricon had been hiking with since day two. They comprise of a younger couple, A Dad and his two adult sons. The entire group has been plagued with injuries. They have ankle, knee and back issues that keep them from hiking no more than 4-5 miles a day. Hence the reason Recon wanted to hike with me. He needed to get a few more miles in if he was gonna make it to the family reunion. As I was leaving, they wanted to make sure I would be taking care of Recon. They have quite an attachment with him. He’s quite capable but yes, I’ll be keeping a watchful eye on my newest hiking partner.
We headed out ahead of most of the others, hoping to get a few more miles in. There were several day hikers and section hikers going southbound. I’m impressed that the locals come out even when there’s a downpour. We met this gal who wasn’t happy with the lackluster performance of her rain jacket. She pulled out her emergency blanket and made it into a poncho. That’s trail ingenuity for you.
Recon and I started looking for a place to stop. The rain subsided and I was searching for a place with a view. We came around a bend and saw the sign for Rocky Bald. That sounds like a perfect spot with a view. We ventured off trail, climbed a precarious piece of molten rock, and made our way to the most spectacular view we’d seen all day. The clouds had lifted and I could see the valley floor below and all the distant peaks in the distance. It was truly heaven on earth.
The evening was cold but I was protected from the ever-so blowing wind. Recon and I spoke about the day and the perseverance it took to get through it. I spoke of Gods grace and how many times we are put through trials so that we can learn and grow. I think so many times I try to rush through the tough times and miss the point! When I am placed in valleys, instead of trying to crawl out immediately, maybe I should consider why I am there? Is there something I can do differently, is it out of my control or is the valley a resting place? Today, for me, was a time to persevere so when tougher times come, and they will, I will be much better prepared. Thank you sweet Jesus for helping me prepare for what’s to come.
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Romans 5:3-5 NIV
3 thoughts on “Day Twelve: April 26, 2022 Wayah Gap to Rocky Bald Elevation Profile +3097/-2917 11.9 Miles; Total 127.1 Miles”
Go Recon! Go Walking Wounded! So cool to hear your stories, Kelly! You are an encouragement to all on the trail and to all of us who wish we could join you on the trail.
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Love following your story!
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You are embracing all that goes with such a hike and learning so much about yourself and life. Glad you have good company on your hike. Praying you have continued strength and perseverance.
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