Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hiking through the Smoke...and good stuff too!

No this is not my latest scheme to snag as much ice cream as I can from the nearby convenience stores. As of the last few days, I have been hiking through some serious smoke. There are large wildfires burning in several counties, though the nearest one is still a whopping 50 miles away, when the wind picks up, in rolls the smoke. I tried just dealing with it for sometime but after hiking for several miles in smoke I can literally see on the horizon, hanging above the rows of tobacco and corn, along with the humidity and heat, one begins to feel rather suffocated. When my throat started to become scratchy and my eyes dry, I decided a wet bandana was the only way to go. It seems to help considerably. The smoke is worst in the morning and evening and is very dependent on the force of the wind. The open landscape doesn't help either. I find when I am in a more wooded area, the smoke seems less intense. Rain helps too.

From what I understand these are forest fires that periodically seem to ignite themselves when the conditions are right- and boy, have they been. NC, this area in particular is in some serious drought. This is also evident as I pass by dry streambed after dry streambed and can see the waterline on the marsh tolerant trees several feet above the actual marsh which looks less like marsh and more like mud. The fires are burning among dry pines and peat bogs - thus they will continue to burn and smolder until a soaking rain occurs. I will also be continuing to walk towards them until I hit the islands. Rain, Mama, rain!

However, the gracoius and welcoming churches have been plentiful and I'd like to give a big shout out to the Free Will Baptist Churches - both White Oak Grove and Pilgrim Home.

Both of these churches welcomed me in, no questions asked, except, "what can we do for you?" I was given access to the bathroom and church kitchen along with rides to the store for supplies. I would have to say, the hardest thing about this hike is figuring out where to sleep each night. Therefore, it means so much to know that you're welcome and can sleep safe and sound after a hard day's worth of hiking. Below are pics of my sweet accommodations...

White Oak Grove Freewill Baptist Church - here I got to sleep in the large garage behind the church complete with a couch leftover from a recent flea market (oh you know I slept well on that), picnic tables, electricity, and an industrial sized fan that I made sure to point directly at that couch cooling me throughout the night

Can you spot my little tent in the garden to the left? What a lovely nook in which to spend the night, with a marble picnic table and lovely angel statue to boot.
 I'd also like y'all to meet Doug of Doug's Grill and Grocery. I stopped here the other morning, just outside of Shine - I believe he said I was in Bullhead - and had a wonderful egg and cheese sandwich. I watched as he made a point to season the egg just right and a sandwich never tasted so good. I also enjoyed the dark cool atomosphere of the store, along with the big screen TV showing an old western. I felt right at home. Besides grocery items and grill food, there was also a game room at the back with pool tables and a juke box. It was nice to meet you Doug and your way was just perfect for me... please folks, check out this sign. I knew I had to sit here a spell after I saw this sign.

Doug of Doug's Grill and Grocery- trust me, Doug's egg and cheese sandwiches are excellent. And though his sign might be tough, Doug is one friendly guy!
Sign reads: This is not Burger King. You don't get it your way. You take it my way or you don't get the damn thing.

That's all for now, folks... more plant pics/info to come soon!
Oh...and did I mention, I only have 200 more miles to go?!


  1. Heather,

    Good work with the hike and sharing your great experiences on this blog. I've really enjoyed following along. Wow, the smoke seems to have gotten worse since when I was through there, but you're doing great and soon an ocean breeze will be helping to keep things pleasant...

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