Thursday, May 19, 2011

Less than 20 miles to Asheville and ain't nothin' gonna stop me now!

So you know that saying, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade," well, I'd just like to say, "When a pair of shotty shoes threatens your hike, make loafers."

This was one of my shining moments today. Thank you, Scott, for the super sharp knife you outfitted me with; it came in handy. My achilles tendon has been continuing to bother me since the day I rolled into the campground. However, finding that it hurts less when I'm in my crocs, have taken to hiking in those on and off the last few days. The problem with hiking in crocs, is that you then end up with blisters from them not fitting very well and sore soles and knees (not enough cushioning). So today, as the trail laid out before me, a track of beautiful flowers, chirping birds, gentle ups and downs and gorgeous views with the sun actually shining, and the only thing holding me back were the darned things on my feet, I said, "to hell with it!" So I pulled out my trusty knife at the top of an overlook and dug in. My feet haven't felt so good in days and the last 4 miles just cruised on by.

So, yes, I am only about 18m from Tunnel Rd right now, and surely camped out somewhere I shouldn't be. I couldn't locate a proper campsite, and was exhausted after hiking even further than I had expected (about 15m) and so said again, "to hell with it!" and here I now sit in my tent on the edge of the parkway somewhere in the Bent Creek Experimental Forest.

But really, exasperated as I may sound, I had an amazing breakfast at the Pisgah Inn and the day was astoundingly beautiful. I feel like I have traveled fast forward through spring. In the Smokies, the spring beauties were still vibrant and the trees were just beginning to leaf out. Now, about 4000ft lower, I'm spying Spiderwort, Showy Skullcap, and blueberry bells (in fact many already on their way to being berries).

Spider Wort (Tradescantia virginiana) - flowers and leaves edible
The woods were alive(!) as I criss-crossed the parkway, ascending and descending through grassy woods and along steep slopes each time. At two separate times I passed a mother turkey leading her young, and followed them squeaking and chirping their way down the trail as they hurried after Mom. I just about stepped upon a snake of some sort, but not seeing a rattle or any copper coloring, I wasn't too concerned. I scared a quail which in turn scared the heck outta me- when they take off in the woods the beating of their wings has such a basslike quality that you think 1)I'm having a heart attack or 2)there is a very large animal charging up behind me. A monarch fluttered by me, as well as some other colorful blue and black butterfly, while the birds sang songs to each other and darted back and forth across the trail and through the trees seeming very busy with their tasks. And I must say I saw the biggest pile of fresh bear scat yet. It was like driving down a wildlife interstate.

However, I suppose all this animal activity makes sense with the enormous variety of plants I saw. Just to rattle off a few: bunches of bloodroot (leaves), Rattlesnake Weed, Yellow Star grass, Water Willow, Tall Meadow Rue, Wild Yam, Turk's Cap Lily (leaves), Marsh Violet, Canadian Violet, Common Blue Violet, Dutchman's Pipe vine (in flower with little "pipes"), false indigo, milkweed, and pedicularis growing tall --these are by no means all medicinal/edible.

When I arrive in Asheville I will be taking a few days off and am looking forward to not only recouping but putting up lots of plant info for y'all to enjoy. If you're cruising down the parkway tomorrow, be sure to say hi if you see a girl with a big ol' pack on her back mowing on some trail mix or wildflowers!

1 comment:

  1. have you emailed Salomon yet? Seriously..... you could totally give them a little line about how they could help you out and you could help them out... prototypes... yadi yada.....