How Fast Can I Post About Mount Rogers?!?
Okay. Been busy. Been real busy. And I promise to be busy for the rest of this month. But, I do need to revel in how awesome Mount Rogers was. So let’s see how fast I can get through this.
Time: 9:25 PM.
This year, we had 5 people in our crew. Tony Airaghi and Paul Ely went up Friday night. Meanwhile, Bill C, PassionPhish and I (oh yeah and Jimmie) hiked up on Saturday.
Our crew – Bill, PassionPhish, Jimmie and Me. (Photo by PassionPhish)
Saturday afternoon, we joined up with Paul and Tony at the campsite.
It seems I pick up a food souvenir from every hiking partner. When I pack an avocado, I think of Tony Airaghi. When I pack an orange, I think of Mike E. And now, whenever I pack a big block of extra sharp cheddar cheese, I’ll think of PassionPhish. That was by far the most addictive dish (and we had smores ingredients with us!!!!). I could not get enough of that cheese. And when it got warm… it looked nasty, but it was even MORE delicious.
We were a little early in the bloom cycle for the rhododendrons. But that was good news because it meant the Roanoke Outdoor and Social Club, who was hiking the following weekend, got to see the peak blooms!
As we hiked to camp via the Pine Mountain Trail, I said to my companions, “Well… maybe by tomorrow they’ll open up a little more.” I was just being optimistic. I didn’t really believe there would be much of a difference between Saturday and Sunday, but there was! We hiked the same trail back and lo and behold there was a stunning difference.
Baby ponies were as cute as usual.
Okay. Well, I just recently watched a recent Jessica Piscitelli story on YouTube where she describes the fear she felt one camping trip when she heard a “bear”.
I had a moment of my own at Mount Rogers. In the middle of the night I woke up and could hear a bunch of coyotes yelping around to each other. They seemed awfully loud, so in my mind they were pretty close. I never reached the point where my fear had me call out to my companions. But I definitely laid awake a while, wide-eyed, monitoring the situation. And actually, I was not afraid for me. I was worried this vicious pack of coyotes would decide that Jimmie was particularly appetizing. And what was my beloved dog doing during this imminent attack? He was curled up at my feet, sound asleep, oblivious of any danger. And perhaps the dog knew best because I never heard any more from the coyotes.
When we were on Wilburn Ridge, we walked single file southbound on the Appalachian Trail. Suddenly a giant buzzing cloud passed to our right. It was so substantial and so loud, it didn’t seem real.
“Was that–?” Thomas uttered.
I pointed and said, “Bees?”
The cloud continued its way south. Suddenly the swarm took an abrupt left turn, right in to a couple of northbound hikers who promptly started doing a skin-crawling jig and swatting session. Alas, the couple did get stung. In retrospect, I wish that I had yelled out something, but I was so dumbfounded at the bees, I really did not digest the danger.
Emetophobe No More
Saturday evening, Paul and I were chatting with the father of the next camp over. The father is a mountaineer. Last year he climbed McKinley and this year he will be climbing Siula Grande. His stories were just fascinating, but as he talked I did notice something peculiar behind him. One of his young sons fell ill by the campfire. At first, I thought the kid was just spitting. The second wretch, it became clear it was not saliva exiting his lips. And by the third bout I interrupted the father and pointed.
“Uh…. your boy is sick.”
That boy went to bed shortly after that and the next day he was up and at ’em, climbing rocks and looking cute. So all ended well.
Which would not have been the case 7 years ago. That incident would have easily sent me in a tailspin. I would have spent the rest of the weekend worrying and thinking about all the germs on my hands. I may have cried and wanted to go home immediately. Whereas now, I can sit around the same fire, listen to stories and cook smores. So all ended well.
Sunset and Smores
The seven-year old daughter of our mountaineer neighbor was not afflicted by her brother’s illness, so Tony, Paul and I spent a lot of time with her. We were the first people to expose her AND her mountaineer father to smores. I’m not sure if the father cared for the concoction or not, but the daughter asked for seconds! I think we may have also taught her another lesson. At dusk, Tony, Paul and I were heading to a rock on the Lewis Fork Trail to watch the sunset.
“Why would you want to watch a sunset?” the little girl asked.
So with permission from her parents, we took her with us.
The colors and views were absolutely gorgeous. I can’t be certain, but I think she may understand the appeal now. 🙂
This was the third June in a row where I’ve made a trip down to Mount Rogers. I don’t intend for the streak to break. It’s a great trip and I will look forward to next year!
Time: 11:27 PM