In the article of 10/22/2023, I'd stated, “. . . the crisp, blue autumn sky was calling me into the woods, for another hike!” Yesterday, I answered that call!
Welcome, dear reader, to the the 55th article, under the “hiking” topic section! Yesterday, I hiked “My Mountain,” House Mountain, for the 182nd time! The last hike was on “May the 4th be with you,” as documented in my article and podcast, on 5/5/2023.
Please enjoy a virtual reality hike along with me! We'll hike up the west trail, reach the west bluff, then hike to the middle bluff. Please pause, with me, while I converse with Mike and offer a prayer, at the middle bluff. Then, let's hike back across and down, the same way that we'd hiked up. Thank you for joining me, in this virtual hike!
Hiking Up the West Trail & Across to the Middle Bluff (Two Photographs)
The weather is seasonably warm and sunny. A light breeze brings nature's air conditioning, to our sweaty skin. At 12:54 PM, we touch the marker, to begin our hike, up the west trail, as usual.
Since it's so dry, without much rain lately, we're gathering trail dust, instead of mud, on our hiking shoes. The usual damp or muddy areas are dusty. We are hiking up and past the four lower switchbacks, without getting winded at all. We are noticing the new trail signs, which indicate the distance hiked and the distance left to hike.
As we continue up, toward the first of the six upper switchbacks, we notice the large tree that had fallen. We check our watches. Fourteen minutes have passed, so far. We continue hiking upward. How many hikers passed us, on their way down? I remember three. Each was wearing short pants. Conversing briefly, with each person, I remarked that I wish that I'd worn short pants. The brush, poison ivy, and poison oak are far less noticeable, now that fall has arrived.
We only pause a few seconds, at times, to drink water from our canteens. It never did feel like my heart rate was increasing much. We never needed to stop, to catch our breaths. Our tickers are still in good shape, apparently.
So, why did it take us 40 minutes, to reach the west bluff? As a “lame mountain goat,” my cautiousness wasn't slowing us down that much! Perhaps it was that big black snake, which I almost touched, when I had leaned into the mountain, to touch a rock, for balance. That was after we'd passed the final switchback and were hiking west, just below the ridgeline. The snake was blending in so well, with the surroundings, that I didn't see it, until it began slithering away from us! I'm glad that it wasn't a rattlesnake or a copperhead!
Well, here we are, on the west bluff! The time is now 1:34 PM. No one else is around. The pine beetles are not too bad, but they are a little pesky.
At 1:48 PM, I am taking the following photograph, from the west bluff. It faces southwest, toward Knoxville. The fall colors are almost at peak. The colors are not as brilliant, since we've not had much rain this fall. They are still beautiful!
A minute later, I'm taking the next photograph, standing at the same spot, but looking east, toward the ridge trail. Let's hike east, along that trail, to get to the middle bluff, shall we?
Conversation with Mike & Prayer, at the Middle Bluff (Two Photographs & Podcast)
We are enjoying the scenery, as we hike east, along the gentle rises and declines, on the ridgeline. The smell of pine and cedar, through which we had passed, was refreshing! Let's pause a moment, at the first bluff. It's lower, and the rock face isn't as large. That's still a good view! I decide not to take a photograph, since I've taken many, over the years.
Hiking along a bit farther east and up, we reach the upper middle bluff! The view, as always, is spectacular! I'll pause, to take the following photograph. The time is 2:30 PM, on the dot.
The view looks west, slightly northwest. The large rock outcropping is around us. We can see about where we had been, back at that west bluff.
In the short story of 8/5/2023 -- about our Charleston, Missouri, family reunion, the previous month -- I wrote to and promised the following, to Mike, my deceased brother-in-law.
. . . your wife gave me your “Delta Saloon, Suicide Table” cap! I've been wearing it. I look forward to taking a better self photograph, while wearing it, on a House Mountain hike! I'll be talking with you, once it's cooler, from the middle bluff of “My Mountain!”
Thank you, fellow hiker, for being silent, while I record the following podcast. It's a minute later now, at 2:31 PM. I'd promised Mike that I'd wear his cap, on House Mountain. I am keeping that promise.
Howdy, Mike! I know that you're just kidding me, when you ask, “Where's the self photograph that you promised?” The image of me, wearing your cap, is in the recording! Okay, okay, I know. I promised a photograph. It's next, before our recorded conversation!
Yes, Mike, I heard you! You asked, as if you didn't know, “Who is that gray-bearded old man?” Do you think that I'd ever paint my hair back to black? I won't even putty in the wrinkles! Now, let's record our conversation!
Mike's “Delta Saloon, Suicide Table” cap is on my head! I even remove it, to hold it out for better viewing. The saloon is in Virginia City, Nevada. I'd like to visit Nevada or Colorado, one of these days.
Well, now that I've fulfilled my promise to Mike, let's head out, shall we? I don't want to go down the east trail, since that top switchback is so treacherous. Let's just hike back, the way that we hiked in. Thanks for understanding.
Hiking Back Down the Way We'd Hiked Up (Two Photographs)
The time is now 2:45 PM, as we head back west, along the ridgeline. Let's pause. I'll take the next photograph, at 3:22 PM.
Ah, yes! The view, looking west, is beautiful! The smell of cedar and pine is in this area. We're almost back to the west bluff.
Well, didn't you enjoy the brief conversations with the few hikers, whom we me, as they were hiking up? Two couples stand out. Just as we left the west bluff, at 3:30 PM, the black woman and white man were pleasant. She did most of the talking. Farther down, still on the ridgeline, near the “defiant tree,” as I call it, we had a very pleasant and spiritual conversation, with our brother and sister in Christ! He's a black man, and she's his white wife. I'll remember their names, Maurice and Angela. We'd remembered meeting, a year or two ago, on a House Mountain hike. They are an outstanding, Christian husband and wife! I hope that we meet them again. Racial divisions do not exist, if we are one in Christ! I wish that this divided world could understand that.
My “bionic” right knee and right foot are not “talking” too me too much. That's good. Slow improvement still comes, day by day. The hike down, however, still takes longer. Thank you for your patience, fellow hiker.
Let's pause, at 4:29 PM, to take the next photograph. We're almost back to the parking lot now.
We're heading east, not too far from the parking lot. I may not have taken a photograph of the new bridge. It's been up a few years now. The old bridge was still good, but it had several weak and damaged boards.
Where's my ol' truck? He'd been the eleventh vehicle in the parking lot, when we arrived. There's fifteen vehicles here now!
There he is! He's guarding the sign, at the entrance to the parking lot! What time is it? It's 4:37 PM! Really? Our time together, in the woods, was three hours and 42 minutes!
We've got to go! I'd promised Mrs. Appalachian Irishman that I'd buy her some more of those pills, which she takes to keep her bones strong. Let's hurry up and go!
By the way, thanks for hiking with me again! As I've said many times, “any day in the woods is better than not!”