Thursday, September 19, 2013

Final Practice Hike: Tinker Cliffs (Part 2)


Part 2

Sorry for the delay (Laura)... 

When we last left our fearless hikers, they were atop of McAfee Knob, enjoying the spectacular sunrise…and preparing for another 16 miles of hiking.

  
After the knob, the next leg of our journey would take us to Tinker Cliffs.  But first, we’d have to climb Tinker Mountain—because our hikes wouldn’t really be a hike without a giant freaking mountain to climb, right?!

At first, the climb didn’t seem so bad.  Sure, the grade was ridiculous, but you could see the top of the summit and knew the pain would be short-lived.  And then you’d see a new summit…and another…and another.  That’s when I learned what a “false summit” was.  According to Wikipedia: A false summit is a peak that appears to be the pinnacle of the mountain but upon reaching it turns out the summit is higher.  False peaks can have significant effects on the climbers’ psychological state by inducing feelings of dashed hopes or even failure.  Wikipedia proves again—it’s the source of all things true. 

Somewhere on the incline to the third (or so) false summit, Di called up to Genevieve, “Are we almost there?”  And Genevieve naively replied, “Yeah, we’re at the top.”  About four false summits later, Genevieve was correct.

Tinker Cliffs weren’t as awe-inspiring as McAfee Knob at sunset, but the views are ridiculously amazing.  Like McAfee Knob, the cliffs seemed like a perfect place to fall to your death--making it the perfect place to stop for lunch.  Also, the cliffs are a great spot to spend your honeymoon.

McAfee Knob in the distance (aka: where we started)

Dogs don't fear heights?


At lunch, the hikers did a quick intro that included why they were hiking and their favorite trail snack.  It was truly incredibly inspirational to hear the stories of how each hiker is connected to CF.  Also, it was incredibly satisfying to hear that other’s think Clif Bars are a marketing gimmick.  We’re all dummies for eating that awful garbage.

Hiking along the edge... good thing I'm not around

After lunch, we came down off the mountain and hiked along a ridge for the next ten miles.  Thankfully, the trail was relatively flat until the end—but I felt like the trail was still a huge challenge.  The physical act of hiking wasn’t terribly difficult—it was my mind  that was the issue.
On top of the ridge

Somewhere on mile 16 (a total guess since I have no idea where I am while hiking), I wanted to get off the trail.  Maybe it was the boredom of looking down at dirt for nine or ten hours straight?  Or maybe it was the fear of the misery I’d discover after taking off my socks? Or maybe it was the sheer exhaustion from hiking this long without sleep?  Regardless, I wanted off—but there wasn't an exit or short-cut.  Hiking long-distances is definitely a mental game, and something I need to be prepared for on September 28.
Thinking of building a hang glider
At some point towards what I was hoping would be the end, we ran into Eric, a friend Corey had brought on the trail to help us out.  His mission was to hang out with the stragglers in the back (aka: me), to make sure everyone made it off the trail alive, and to tell us that we were real close to the end. 

Me: Are we there yet?
Eric: We’ll pass under the buzzing power lines, and then it’s an easy downhill mile…and you’re there.  Power lines are probably a mile away.
(one mile later)
 Me: Are we there yet? I see power lines.
 Eric: Are they buzzing?
Me: No.
Eric: Keep hiking. We're almost there.

View from the non-buzing power lines
 (one mile later)
Me: Are we there yet?
Eric: We’ll pass under the buzzing power lines, and then it’s an easy downhill mile that’s not too rocky…and you’re there.  Power lines are probably a mile away.
Me: We’re not close are we?
Eric: Maybe. Would it really make a difference if I tell you how far it is?
Me: … yes… ??
Eric: Then you have 30 miles left.
Me: ...

BUZZING POWER LINES

Eric’s an amazing dude, but I doubted he wanted to hear me complain how tired I was of being on the trail—especially considering he’d been blown up in Iraq and put back together like the Bionic Man.   Thankfully, his stories of hunting moose with sniper rifles and the recital of the entire Geico commercial libary (Humpday!!) kept me entertained enough to forget how badly my feet hurt. 
Hiking entertainment

I could write several more paragraphs about the trees and dirt I saw on the final ten miles… but I’ll save that blog post for another day.  There was a huge rock formation called Hay Rock.  Local teens have been known to hike to Hay Rock, get drunk, and spray paint graffiti… woo hoo! Roanoke kids sure do know how to party.  Let’s HIKE four miles so that we can PAINT A ROCK!! 


Hanging out under Hay Rock

After nearly twelve hours of hiking… we finally made it back to the Ho Jo’s parking lot, jumped in our cars (I had just enough time to take off my shoes), and made a bee-line for the Homeplace.  There’s no word to describe all-you-can eat fried chicken after hiking 20 miles  (I’ll leave that job up to a wise person from South Carolina)...
Ho Jo's!!! 

Thank you for fixing my feet, Dr. Dana Marie!

 And guess what? Part 3 (The Quality Inn) is coming....




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