Posts filed under ‘Peters Mountain’

Man’s Humanity to Man

On more than one occassion, Kurt Vonnegut wrote and spoke fondly about firemen and their mode of transportation– the fire engine.  When asked his thoughts about 9/11, the author simply said:

I can’t imagine a more stirring symbol of man’s humanity to man than a fire engine.

Vonnegut’s symbol is certainly nice, but now I’ve found my own image of man’s humanity to man.  Last weekend, I witnessed an act that moved me more than a fire engine would.  I watched four men rescue a dog from the Appalachian Trail.

At the end of our backpacking trip, I shuttled some hikers back to their cars.  When I returned, I noted a particular couple still weren’t present at the trailhead.

“Brian and Akiko aren’t back?” I asked.

“They’re having a… dog malfunction,” someone told me.

It was the oldest dog in our group, eleven-year old Yoda, who was “malfunctioning”.  With two miles left to go, poor Yoda collapsed.  Shaking and completely spent, he could move no further.  His owner put him in a creek to cool down and came down the mountain to seek help.

At this point, four men *ran* back up the steep two-mile ascent, built a stretcher and carried the dog down to safety.  Their efforts were very touching.

Andy, James, Brian and Carl carry Yoda down the trail

Poor Yoda

Is it odd that my favorite symbol of “man’s humanity to man” involves a dog?  I don’t think so.  If those men would run up a mountain to rescue a dog… just imagine what they would do for you!

And actually, one member of our hiking group doesn’t even have to imagine.  He got lost (“I thought the blazes were more of a guideline”) and never made it to the end.  Some of the very same men who ran up to retrieve the dog, were poised to backtrack the whole day’s hike and/or explore steep side trails to find their missing co-worker.

The Group studying maps and trying to figure out how to find their friend.

And when cell phone contact with their colleague was finally made, a group of these hikers drove two hours to a trailhead in West Virginia, hiked up the Groundhog Trail and brought their lost friend home.

So if you don’t fancy the dog angle, how’s this:

If those men would drive two hours and hike up a steep hill for someone who disregarded blazes, just imagine what they would do for you!  🙂

October 14, 2007 at 3:31 pm 6 comments

The Birthday Orange

Last weekend, as we hiked Peters Mountain, Mike E celebrated a birthday. The wilderness doesn’t provide good shopping opportunities, but I was able to find a great gift for him from the inventory of my pack. An orange! And so, at our our second day campsite near Symms Gap, Mike ingested his birthday orange.

The Birthday Orange!!!

An orange may sound meager, but it was well-received. Over the last couple of years, oranges on hikes has become a little tradition of ours. Here’s an entry I found in my 2006 journals talking about the history of our hiking oranges.


Last year when Mike E and I hiked VA-779 to VA-311 [13.1 miles], Mike brought along an orange. When we reached Tinker Cliffs after a long, steady ascent, Mike shared a few wedges of his orange with me.

It was so very delicious on that hot day, that orange and its sweet rejuvenating juices were exactly what our bodies needed.

This year when we hiked 13.1 miles from VA-779 to VA-220, it was I who brought an orange. And… when our bodies were hot and fatiqued, shortly before Hay Rock, Mike and I sat down and split that fruit.

Again – it was DIVINE. Delicious and refreshing. Just what we craved.

The oranges are such a highlight of our hikes– that [on our hike] last week, Mike and I both brought 2 oranges each! That’s a total of 4 oranges!

Not only that– early in our own hike, maybe even mile one, we started anticipating the oranges – speculating when we’d stop and how good they’d taste.

It wasn’t a disappointment when we finally stopped and ingested our first orange.

So today, preparing for my hike with Bill— an orange was a no-brainer inclusion. It was a downright necessity.

BUT– once I got on the trail, the orange securely in my pack, I had a strange feeling come about. It was a twinge of guilt and regret. It almost felt– it almost felt like I was being adulterous to have an orange without Mike E. Like I was cheating on him by sharing our fledgling tradition with a stranger.

It turns out no one (Bill, Tony, Paul, Matt, Nancy) had the least bit interest in my orange. That only goes to show they were unworthy of the orange to begin with! 🙂

Anyway– so no orange was had in Mike E’s absence.

This evening when I returned, Mike and I discussed today’s orange goings-on. Mike and I decided to have an “open relationship”… in regards to oranges. 🙂

“I’m cool with you eating oranges with other people,” Mike said.

I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Likewise, I give you permission to share oranges with whoever you like.” I told Mike.

So we are both free to sow our orange seeds whereever or with whomever we desire. BUT– I suspect that having an orange on the trail without Mike E will just not be the same.

I will always think of my hiking buddy whenever an orange is ingested. Mike’s lasting legacy?

It’s a good thing we established an orange understanding. This summer at Apple Orchard Falls— I shared an orange with some Potomac Appalachian Trail Club members. Yup, members. I’m a slut. 🙂

October 10, 2007 at 9:18 am 3 comments

A Hike of Many Purposes

Last weekend, Jimmie and I joined a formidable group of hikers and dogs on a backpacking trip on Peters Mountain! We traveled from VA-460 to VA-635. That section spanned 19.8 miles of the Appalachian Trail and all but 0.2 miles were new to me!

In my home office, I have an elevation gain map of many of the Virginia Appalachian Trail miles hanging on my wall. Whenever I complete some new mileage of the AT, I highlight the completed section. On that map, Peters Mountain has sat smugly blank for some time, bisecting two substantial sections of completed trail.

On Monday, the contour of Peters Mountain was finally traced over with a yellow highlighter! Now I can look proudly at my map and know that I have hiked a continuous stretch from VA-611 in Bland County all the way to the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Roanoke!

My AT Map– Before and After

Besides connecting two sections of completed mileage, this particular hike had a number of purposes:

Mike E’s Birthday Hike!
Mike, like myself, celebrates his birthday with a hike. Two years ago we went northbound on the AT to Dragon’s Tooth. Last year, we went to the Smokies! And this year, we hit Peters Mountain. I profit substantially from Mike E’s birth.

*MY* Birthday Hike!
Yup, my birthday was seven months ago. But if you happen to have a great memory (or mediocre searching skills), you’ll find that this same mountain was targetted for my birthday hike in March before I got stupid strep throat. But look how this has a happy ending! Thanks to that strep throat, my first trip to Peters Mountain included great weather, wonderful company and beautiful fall views. Sometimes good things do come to those that wait.

HEL Backpacking Trip
The group I was with were employees from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute— the people who do the SmartRoad. Specifically, I was with their Hardware Engineering Lab (HEL) team. Each year they do an annual backpacking trip and this was it. Man, that organization has a great corporate culture! Not only do they do cool backpacking trips like this, but they do annual canoe trips, painting balling ventures, and other outdoor activities. Note to self — get a job at the SmartRoad.

It feels weird to close this post without any pictures, so here you go!

Day 2 – Me and Jimmie at Rice Fields

Day 2 – Pile of Packs at Rice Fields

Day 2 – Tents at Sunset

Day 2 – View of Trail from Rice Fields

Day 3 – Sunrise Nears Symms Gap

Day 3 – Fog from Near Symms Gap

As usual more pictures of our Peters Mountain Hike can be found on my Flickr site.

October 10, 2007 at 8:48 am 3 comments

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