I'm writing this lying in bed with my legs propped up by pillows and a heating pad at my lower back. I'm not hurt, but I hiked the Rock Castle Gorge Trail today and it did me in. Thank goodness I decided not to take my tripod!
We started this seven mile trek by taking my car to the bottom trail-head and leaving it there, then went back up on the Parkway and traveled to our starting point. It all started out innocently enough:
But we didn't even get out of the pasture when I spotted some white goop on my wrist...and too...part of my camera case. The cap to my sunscreen lotion that hangs from the bag had somehow flipped open and was oozing out all over the place. After getting that under control we headed into the woods. The first thing that struck me was how many branches and trees were down. The winter was very, very hard up here!
The damage continued throughout most of the trail...we had to go under or over or through trunks and branches at several points. This is one of the simpler ones we had to navigate:
It got trickier when we had to cross a grouping of branches where the trail was muddy and going steeply downhill. I managed to keep on my feet and my camera clean though.
It turns out we missed the peak for wildflowers. We only found a few here and there...no sprays of color.
It was hard to focus on taking shots what with walking so arduous: not only was the trail proving to be difficult, but by mile three, my feet were hurting. Ah yes...my troublesome feet. Of course, walking downhill makes ones foot to have a lot of pressure on the forefoot, which of course, caused my neuroma to stab me with every step. By mile four, both feet were feeling fatigue...as were my knees...as was my back. I think I bit off more than I should have...perhaps anytime, but certainly so soon after returning from flat Florida.
About this time came my second "incident". I realized that my Hoodman had dropped off its holder. Now I had to backtrack to find it. Fortunately, I did find it and I didn't have to walk more than about 1/4 mile to do so. It was at the top of this incline:
But despite the pain, the fatigue, and the disappointment at the flower situation, I still could appreciate the beauty of the trail...especially when we got low enough to be near the stream that was running along the trail for most of the way. We crossed it/went through it several times. It was all very peaceful.
As we got towards the bottom...perhaps mile six...I started salivating over the thought of getting into my car. One foot in front of the other for just another mile or so, then relief. And then...a vision of horror: I visualized my car keys sitting in Larry's car's cup holder. I had put them there when I got into his car and by the time we got out of it I forgot they were there.
So here we were: at the bottom of a very big mountain with no means up it and no cell phone service to call Judy to come rescue us. There was nothing we could do but walk another mile or so from the trail-head to the state road where we'd have to thumb our way at least to Tuggle's Gap Restaurant where a phone call could be made. My entire body was objecting. Seven miles was about to turn into at least nine.
But good fortune prevailed. We rounded a bend and spied a dog standing there looking at us. A little ways further, there stood his owner. We were saved! The guy couldn't have been nicer. Not only did he cut short his own time on the trail to help us, but he drove us all the way to Larry's car. We offered to buy him lunch...but it was three o'clock by now and he'd already eaten.
We, on the other hand, had started at 9am and just had a granola bar and water during the past six hours. We were hungry. We drove back to Tuggles Gap and ah, that first sip of beer tasted oh so good! The tacos that went with it did too.