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Lost continued 

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The Descent

We began our descent through thick patches of berries, the thorns were tearing us to shreds. In what seemed like a few short minutes, the creek that was in the valley was coming into view. We were laughing as we descended, we felt silly being lost after so many years of experience. Laughter can also prevent panic.   All we had to do was put one foot down and we would descend several feet. It  was steep and a quick trip down to the creek, we descended at least 2000 feet in elevation. We were not scared or panicking because we had enough food to last several days and a reliable water filter. Then there is the other fact that comforted us, according to the National Park Service, on the east coast the furthest you are from a road is eight miles. That means we had plenty of time and supplies to hike eight miles in a straight direction. If the fans of the movie  "Blair Witch Project" knew this they might not have been as scared!

The "Dragon"

After reaching the creek we dropped our packs and took a break. The sound of "Rice Burner" motorcycles could be heard in the distance. We were near the "Dragon", a curvy stretch of Highway 129  that cyclists like to maneuver around. It sounded just a few miles away so we didn't feel as though we were lost anymore.

After taking a well earned break, we started following the creek bed. The under-growth of rhododendron was thick and it was slow-going. I knew from experience that wildlife, including bears, are known to frequent creek beds on warm days. We didn't go far before my partner Carroll spotted an old road bed that ran alongside the creek. The forest road had not been used in many years and had large trees growing in the middle of it. 

Nevertheless it was reasonably level and at times it was high above the creek. As we were walked at a leisurely pace enjoying the unspoiled creek scene that few hikers have witnessed.  I noticed that the road left the creek at several points as the water passed through several small gorges. I wondered out loud, how difficult it would have been if we had to crawl along the creek bed. What great luck we've had!

HWY 129

We reached highway 129 before we knew it and didn't know what to do. We had planned a three day hike and this was only the first day. We doubled back into the forest and the park boundaries and set up a camp.  The following day we walked out to the road and stuck our thumbs out. A retired couple from Maine stopped and drove us the eleven miles back to our truck.

A month later while hiking near Fontana a back - country ranger stopped me for a permit check. After listening to my story, he speculated that we may have "picked up" the old Appalachian Trail that was re-routed 20 years ago. He also told us that the fire-rings that we saw along side the creek were from fisherman and poachers that frequent the area. There aren't any trails in this section of the park and therefore not many visitors. This makes a perfect habitat for bears and poachers. The ranger told me that one year it was so bad that the park service had installed a video camera to record the activity in the area. They wanted to record the people entering for future legal action.

The ten essentials for every hike

 News Archive | Online Guide | Hikes

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