Something was not right here. I thought about this as we hit the trail. We crossed a road after hiking a short time and the rain was now intermittent as we hiked through a boggy area, first on boardwalks then up to our ankles as our sandals sunk into the mud. Though it was wet and muddy and the mosquitoes were enjoying the breakfast buffet of me, with an order of Toesocks on the side, we were in fact walking through beautiful lush green vegetation and the ferns were waist high on both side of the trail. Because we left the shelter so early we were also the only ones on the trail so far as we could tell. Soon we were gaining elevation as the trail took us high up on the rocky ridge of the Appalachians. The wet rocks were proving to be very treacherous and we both slipped many times trying to scramble up the slick rock surfaces. Luckily neither one of us had fallen, but behind me I could hear Toesock’s trekking poles scraping rock frequently as she tried to find purchase with the thin carbon fiber sticks. I soon began showing her where it was extra slick and to especially watch out for the black colored rock surfaces because they were just like ice! Several places we had to climb with both hands and feet and she would hand off her trekking poles to me to free up both her hands. I usually hiked without any poles and I loved to scramble on the rocks. We were walking up, over and then down massive slabs of rocks that reminded me of a dinosaur’s back, a very big damn dinosaur! The downward side was where a fall could prove disastrous. Many places I held Toesock’s hand or stood just below her on the down slope in case she started to fall. We went on like this slowly and carefully for a couple of hours and I was growing annoyed because we were not making very good time. I hated it when I thought like this because we had all the time in the world. But the trail does that to you, it makes you think…..”miles…..we gotta make our miles today!” I often had to force myself to relax and not fight the trail. I think it’s a guy thing, and I knew Toesocks didn’t like it. In a short time we would hit the New Jersey/New York border and hike into our eighth state. Soon after that we would also tag the highest point in New York State. Then I saw it! Right there, just ahead of me, I saw NJ/NY painted on the wet rocks! We had hit state number eight! I turned around to holler at Toesocks, “WE”RE IN NEW YORK!” That’s when it happened, she went down hard! I could see by the scared look in her eyes that she was hurt. “God-damn it, are you OK?” She didn’t say anything! She didn’t get up. She just stared at me, her eyes filled with tears and she started shaking, holding her left leg. Now I was scared! I was already mad at myself for being distracted and not watching her come down that last slope. “How bad is it?” “Give me a minute” I gave her 10 seconds. “How bad!” “I don’t know!” “Well what do you think!” More tears, more shaking. “Do you think it’s broke!” “I don’t know!” “Well what do you think” “Give me a minute!” “What do you want me to do!?” “ I don’t know!” “Can you put weight on it?” “ I don’t know” “Let me help you up!” “God-damn it!” “Give me a minute!” “God-damn it!” It went on like this while we both tried to understand what just happened. We then decided to just sit there awhile and see if the pain went away or if it would start to swell. If she could not walk on it we were in trouble being this high up on a ridge with actual climbing, not just walking to get back down to lower elevations. (...to be continued)
The cover picture today is my old kayak "Ah-Notta-Hey" deep into Caddo Lake on Goat Island. Sheila and I often paddled out deep into the swamp where no one except us, the otters, beavers and alligators were and camped for the weekend.