Two Saturdays ago, I got to hike with Tony Airaghi again. This time we were joined by Tony’s cousin, Bruce and Bruce’s old college roommate, Dave. We chose Tinker Cliffs via the Andy Layne Trail. Our trip was about six miles.
When I left my house, I left Tony a voicemail message.
“If it is really only 45 minutes, I’ll be on time, ” I said, “But you know me… I would bet on me being late.”
As I neared our rendez-vous point, Tony called to report he was just leaving his house. He was quite a ways behind me.
“Knowing me, you should have known *I* would be late!” he joked.
I am slow at ascents and the Andy Layne Trail sports a number of doozies. I wasn’t worried about Tony. On my very first hike over 10 miles long, it was Tony who encouraged me to go on my own pace and reminded me “We aren’t here to kill ourselves, we’re here to have a good time.” (To this day, whenever I pass a hiker who appears to be struggling on hills, I repeat what Tony said to me).
Anyway, Tony witnessing a slow Vicky did not bother me. He’s done that for years. It was the two guys I did not know, this Dave and this Bruce (Hey both Kids in the Hall names!) who concerned me. I could just see all three men waiting for me at the top of a hill and one of them turn to Tony and say, “I thought you said this girl hiked all the time!” Also remembering our recent War Spur hike, I didn’t want to give anyone reason to throw snowballs at me from switchbacks.🙂
So I decided to get a head start. My goal was to get past the two giant hills before the guys caught up. I achieved my goal…and then some. I made it past the giant hills, past the hollowed out tree, past the seven switchbacks, past Scorched Earth Gap and then to our final destination–the cliffs. I waited at the cliffs for about an hour and still had no companions. Luckily, I have all that self-portrait experience to rely on.
Finally, I decided I should start my descent. I left a quick voicemail on Tony’s cell phone, grabbed my pack and my dogs and suddenly Tony emerged out of the woods and our group was united.
This time, we did not get to see a jeep stuck in the mud, but I did get to see something pretty comparable. As I approached that second giant hill, I passed two hikers.
“There’s a big hill coming up with a lot of mud on it,” one of the hikers told me, “You’re probably going to bite it– I did.”
The hiker’s clothes supported his story. His entire backside was covered with mud. And when I did inch my way up the “Mud Hill”, I could see distinct markings in the mud where the guy slipped and slid down the hill.
Everyone in our group managed to make it up without incident. And a few hours later, we all managed to descend the hill cleanly as well.
Near the top, the trees were still coated from a recent ice storm. With the warm air and the afternoon sun, some of the ice was melting. As a result, sections of the forest “rained” broken ice. It made for some pretty scenery too.
We had a clear day and nice weather, so the visibility from the cliffs was perfect. I would still take Tinker Cliffs over McAfee’s Knob any day.