Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I watched a man in his sunday's best kill a rattlesnake. I camped out with friends at Turkey Pen and night swam in the river. Uwharrie visited her boyfriend. I ate a veggie mamacita and drank a dead guy ale. I went for an 11 mile run in the Smokies. I ran up Big Creek and swam in Midnight Hole. The water was one of the most beautiful things I've ever experienced. It was the color of emerald. The crimson tentacle roots of the soaring sycamores surrounded me. They lapped up life alongside me in perfect harmony. I floated for eternity and dove into the foam. I ran perfectly. Meditation was easy. I felt just like a droplet of water in the river of life, flowing effortlessly. I learned that the "best" runners are the ones that run not for competition, or selfish gain, but simply for the celebration of God's creation. I listened to Adam masterfully cover radiohead's how to disappear completely. I committed to learning Colin's wonderful walking bass part of that song. It's probably my favorite, not sure, I forget. Oh yeah! I learned how to become un-lost!
Sunday, August 27, 2006
A call today, from a disgruntled woman who owns a mountain house on one of the private inholdings in the middle of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness. Seems as though the bears are harrassing the homeowners. Bears like food. This bear allegedly tore into the tire cover on her honda CRV. This was the last straw. "The bears do not belong here," she says. "When they destroy my property, car and house, I will start shooting." So they want to kill the bears. But don't worry, because these are just the wealthy, politically influential people in this society. My favorite quote from her: "God told us that we humans are better than all other creatures." I'm watching the china hit the floor. Fall of the Roman Empire: Let's enjoy the ride!!!
Friday, August 25, 2006
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Arrived at Bald River Gorge Wilderness in TN near noon and promptly got wet in Bald River Falls. The hole has many logs and branches in it, also it's right next to the road, which raises the potential of broken glass and riff-raff. What a pity for such a beautiful cascade.
Uwharrie and I embarked on a 16 mile trail run looping thru the wilderness. We started 2 miles down the Tellico River road and crossed the river where there are the ruins of a footbridge. This was the beginning of the Basin Lead Trail, but quickly it became clear to us that the trail had long been abandoned. We bushwhacked up to the top of the ridge before hitting extensive briar patches and finally giving up.
Back to the falls, we reversed directions of the loop and headed up the Bald River trail, which is in fine shape. We immediately came upon several holes that deserved attention. I finally settled on one where we remained until evening. It was here that I experienced what it must feel like to hang on to a comet. A hidden jug handle accessed by an acrobatic twisting leap provides those fortunate enough with a perfect hold beneath the funneled foamy fury of Bald River.
Hanging on for the sheer enjoyment of dear life and breathing in an air pocket, I could see, feel and most certainly hear the white water flowing across every inch of my flailing body. When satiated, a simple release of my grip sent me hurtling into a world of tranquil waters. A flat sunny rock nearby sealed the deal of this fine recreational establishment. But now it was time to find a campsite safely nestled away from any potential repeat of last night's episode.
At length, we returned to the Cherohala Skyway. Falls Branch trail jumped out at me after a quick survey of the topo map. We set off down the jewelweed boulevard to a campsite at the falls. I had forgotten my headlamp and didn't realize it had started to rain until I finished my evening shower in the falls. It was at this time that it got dark and the uneven area under our tarp became a swimming pool. Consequently, I had nothing to eat for dinner and felt genuinely thankful and happy (after a quick session of jury-rigging) to have a dry spot for man and dog to sleep. What a wonderful day!
Packed up and climbed up to the TH after a breakfast of butter and bread. We arrived just as my parents came driving in from NC. I took advantage of this opportunity to dry some wet gear in the glorious sun. After caching my car at Grassy Gap, we all set off to Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. Here my mom got a chance to finally see this rich "virgin" mountain cove filled with massive tulip poplars and hemlocks. The hemlocks in this area are already mostly dead from the adelgid (to love and let go).
It was a fun two mile tour on foot and a good warm-up for our highly anticipated 4-day expedition thru the wilderness. We arrived at Cheoah Dam at noon. A hot 2 mile hike brought us to where Slickrock Creek empties into Calderwood Lake (formerly known as the Little TN River). We are now getting to know this magnificent creek and all its miraculous holes quite intimately as we follow it upstream for 2 days to its humble beginning.
There are too many places to write about! But I have been taking some documentary footage! This has been a good day. I'm now beside a fire enjoying the ear-candy of a katydid creek lullaby.
Spent the morning at a triple-decker swimming hole along Slickrock Creek. At noon, we began the long climb to Bob Bald thru the verdant jubilee of a high summer rainforest. The creek grew quieter and quieter nestled away underneath a jumble of mossy boulders. A nap and last-chance dip soon after crossing Hangover Creek preceded the steepest and most humbling section of today's ascent.
We had to walk carefully around a beautiful 6-foot timber rattler that was coiled and ready to strike. After many switchbacks, we achieved a heath bald ridge and could finally see the elusive saddle from our high perch. By the time we reached the gap, all our dignity and pride had been stripped bare by the mountain's power; Naked Ground is a good name for this place.
Along the wonderful ridge, white snake root and wood asters grow beneath dwarf beech trees. Blackberries and blueberries can be found near the grassy summit of Bob Bald. Here Tina and Gabby joined us at our campfire and shared wine and stories. Tina has hiked all 900+ miles of trail in the Smokies from 2001 to 2006. She is also very familiar with this area and says that the North Fork of Citico Creek has many good swimming holes. I'm looking forward to exploring the North Fork tomorrow!
Coyotes and heavy dew last night. Clouds: high and extensive cirrus layer to the west this morning. The tarp is wet and heavy. Had coffee by a roaring fire and felt anxious to be beside a deep and cold creek under a hot sun. I do love sleeping out on summits, but in late summer, there's nothing better than an amphibious lifestyle in the Appalachians. Salamanders know what's up!
We set off fairly early down to Cherry Log Gap on the Benton Mackaye trail. Turning west, we dropped steeply into the genesis of the North Fork of Citico Creek. Things got wild as trail and creek became one thru dense laurel thickets. Scrambling over slick boulders, we were zapped by yellow jackets. They injected us with their fire and life.
We descended deep into the valley. The creek grew up quickly. Also, the sun emerged from the clouds. Excitement mounted. We passed several fine campsites and shallow holes. Haunted with memories of the deep cold of Slickrock, we kept searching until the junction of the south and north fork of Citico.
Here we finally settled on a shallow and sunny spot to have lunch, sleep and swim. It was good, yet Citico would be quite something with a little more water. Comparing the level of Slickrock with the time I was here in June, it seems the Creek may be down as much as 2 feet. Queen of the meadow and bee balm is in bloom along the South Fork. I spotted a ~300 pound black bear drinking at the creek. It heard the dog and bounded up the steep hillside on the opposite bank. We picked out a nice campsite by the creek and enjoyed a great fire and peaceful evening.
It’s a rainy morning, a beautiful and natural mood for these woods. We ascend along Grassy Branch nearing the Skyway. We have all-too-quickly traversed this wilderness. For a short time, it feels as though we are still in the green heart of it all, but soon I encounter the detritus of our death star: a pepsi can indicates it’s not far now... It’s never far now.
This has been a wonderful hike. I was thinking of how therapeutic such an experience can be. There are so many shrinks and drugs in the world, but the best medication is free and easy. Unfortunately everyday I suffer to see loved ones falling further away into the fantasy world. We have put our medicine high on the mountain shelf, and few reach for it.
And those fortunate few, yes those foolish fortunate few want to make the same mistakes over and over again. We drive eastward and I see the sobering signs: billboards for mountain real-estate, for gated communities, golf courses... The river waters are the color of clay, the mark of development. We are drawing the blade across our wrists! I’m a meteor streaking across the sky: reentry.
We enjoy a garlic, artichoke, spinach and feta pizza with Highlands oatmeal porter at Anthony’s. It’s delicious. On the way home, I visit Skinny Dip falls. That too is delicious. I need to always remember that now matters... Rejoyce in the moment!
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
I don't have much interest in being an astronaut in outer space. How can it compare to floating in the darkness of mother nature's womb?
We arrive at the swimming hole after a naked half-mile hike. The roar of the falls seems more fierce in the night. I wonder if it's merely an illusion, or if the recent rains have recharged the creek.
Lights out, eyes adjusting, no moon yet, and into the water. Silence. Nothing. Hardly even cold. Suspended animation. Are those my arms in front of me? No speed, no direction. Wow, this is quite a sensation!
I must dive in a couple more times before I can drag myself away from this wonderful Place. Rejuvenated entirely, it is now-o-clock and I wish to bed down atop Black Balsam.
We park at the crossing of the Art Loeb on 816. There is a darkened camo-painted truck 30 yards back. I step out into the night. I can hear a raspy and agitated voice announcing over obscure airwaves and out of the truck something about androids and football being a facsimile of warfare.
A man in the truck follows the radio lecture closely by repeating what is said. And then, I overhear: "...In the middle of this road, atop the hill. Don't kill him. But you have my permission to f*** him."
I'm in warp-drive up the road before I can think twice. I reach the upper lot and am somewhat comforted by seeing other cars. We walk out into the meadow to sleep under the stars...
But my head is still swimming. I'm in the future painting pictures of a binary vision. Veins carry oxygen-starved, life-deprived blue zombies across the landscape.
I look harder into the shadows to see purple capillary cities where there is mixture. Snapshot after snapshot, the series is finished before I've gotten a chance to pick up a brush.
First light, after grazing on misty blueberries, we descend to the parkway. The trucker is gone, pumped towards the light I hope. Onward, westward to the Bald River gorge...
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
The tick tock tick of a ticking timebomb
Fifty feet of concrete underground
One little leak becomes a lake
Says the tiny voice in my earpiece
So I give in to the rhythm
The click click clack
I'm too wasted to fight back
Tick tack goes the pendulum on the old grandfather clock
I can see you
But I can never reach you
I can see you
But I can never reach you -TY
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Everyday I awake to find my eyes closed. But oh, how they now can open! Breaking through to the other side! I’m underwater watching golden green bubbles eclipse a silver sun. This Place is near to where wondrous water, reborn to a liquid terrestrial state begins its magnificent journey. It’s the cloud; it’s the fluid in our Body. The heart-sun pumps this earth-blood. We can hear the pulse NOW and the echo of the spirits. We share previous visions that shouldn’t seem strange at all.
My body is frozen, my brain is sauced. I’m thinking of David Byrne and speaking in tongues. And none of it makes much sense to anyone until I’m thawed and reading aloud the words of John Muir, the shepherd. Our hearts flood. We are sand-bar souls. We are etch-a-sketch entities. We all need our brains shook loose now and again. This glorious and frigid hole is better than any artificial device or drug.
And I get to thinking of Peter Bakwin and the revelation during his recent 84 hour double Hardrock run that time is an illusion. And how can a society addicted to time machines realize this? Are some humans really not human at all? So many questions and only one imperative uttered aloud at parkway milepost 420: “APPLESAUCE, EAT IT!”
Friday, August 11, 2006
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
I found a place that's real, not just in my mind.
A place with deep, cold-water pools and stone ledges in sunshine,
A place of wonders, with boulders to climb,
A place of grassy meadows with blueberries on which to dine,
And breathtaking vistas incredibly sublime.
Is this a real place? I think it might be,
But you'll need to come, and bring your own eyes to see.
Don't take my word for it, but please come and share.
Swim in the cloud pools right next to thin air,
And lie in the sun, body and mind stripped bare.
It is now the time of high summer,
A time to seek patches of sun in which to slumber,
And deep pools to make the body go numb, brrr.
A time to feast on the wonderful, ripe berries,
And preserve as many memories of the summer as we can carry.
So you wonder if there really could be such a place?
Your doubts are easy to see, written all over your face.
I am not making this up, I am not telling lies--
Why don't you let me show you this wonderful surprise?
I'll have the joy of watching the laughter light up your eyes. -mb
the parting shot:
(yes i am enjoying my new lexan goblet tremendously!)
Saturday, August 05, 2006
removing roots, outsloping, collecting backfill
prepping locust steps
the finished product!