July 24, 2013
Start: Lower Chasteen Creek CS 50 | Finish: Smokemont Camp Ground | Miles: 2.5 | Total: 33.1
9:47 PM – Another day, another smorgasbord of unexpected challenges. We decamped at 8:11 … almost right on schedule. I wanted to get an early start as this was our longest scheduled day in the Smokies. Passed through Smokemont Campground (flush toilets! trashcans!) and started the day’s first & only long climb, Newton Bald, at about 9:30. We got in a pretty good groove. Instead of me speeding ahead and taking breaks to let Jason catch up, this time I slowed down, letting him stay close. Thus we engaged in conversation… about my childhood memories, about music he listened to and bands I liked, and concerts I went to. Time flew like this, and it was everything I had hoped this hike would become.
Then suddenly he cried out. I turned around to see that he had stepped off the edge of the trail, his right foot sliding down the broken embankemen, and his left knee hitting the ground. A simple slip, not unlike any of five I had taken yesterday … the kind that could go wither way in ending a trip or being a forgotten moment. The first thing he said was “I hope I didn’t hurt myself!” As he righted himself and tried to stand on his right foot, it became apparent that indeed he had. When we got his shoe off, I did not see any swelling or dislocation. But there was pain below the ankle – he had rolled it to the inside as the edge of the trail colla[sed away. And yes, there had been a pop, he said.
After some discussion – it did get a little misty for both of us – we decided to walk back to Smokemont as best we could, minus his backpack. About 2 hours. From there we would try to contact Aimee for a ride. I went ahead and sent my alert message “need ride home / non-life threatening” with the SPOT device. The plan was then for me to hike back and retrieve his pack. Solo, a 3 hour round trip which I did in 2:32.
Aimee was waiting when I got back. Jason spent the hour before she arrived hanging out near the Smokemont Ranger Station. Aimee had been well underway by the time I called her from the ranger station.
We went to dinner in Bryson City – nothing to be found in Cherokee – and picked up some supplies I needed (more duct tape, trash bags for pack liner, candy, more toilet paper). They dropped me off at Smokemont and headed back home. I got a tent site. Of course it started to pour again right as we pulled in. GSMNP was kind enough to adjust my camping permits and itinerary by one day.
I did struggle with whether to go on. Got very emotional a few times on the trail back to Jason’s pack. I will be sad to see Jason go. There was so much more I had hoped we would get around to talking about. I was so impressed with is maturity and attitude towards the hike. The best thing was when he said “We should come back and finish this sometime. It was fun even though it was tough.” That made my day, all the way. Frustrated not getting to share the joy & high of finishing a hike like this with him. Again.
Today’s progress: 2.5 miles. Miles walked – Jason: 9.5. Me: 16.5