‘Well I sure as hell am not going to tell my family I did this’… That was one of the main thoughts racing through my head as I started to make my way down into the tree lined valley area that my drone friend had crashed in to.
This is not an area you’re supposed to hike. And clearly no one had hiked this steep incline in quite some time. But to my advantage, the area for the drainage ditch was clear of vegetation for the most part. And appeared to be scalable in nature.
I quickly realize that ‘climbing down’ wasn’t a great idea. I’d need to slide on my butt to do this ‘safely’. I’m also remembered that ‘oh ya, I don’t have health insurance right now… I wonder what a broken ankle costs these days’.
Getting to the bottom I openly curse out loud. The mix of emotions of the past half-hour has been rather extreme. From being happy beyond joy at the success of capturing video I’ve never been able to get before, to now risking physical safety to salvage an investment I’ve made in my trip.
Thoughts of humiliation and embarrassment fill my head. How am I going to explain this to my family. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
I at least section off the creek bed at the base of the hill in my mind. I’ll search the portions under the four story tall bridge first. It has the most clear area, then I’ll look through the watery creek, I’ll look through the treeline obviously, and if all else fails I’ll at least be able to say I gave it my best shot of finding it.
Snakes, spiders and a weird looking centipede
Luckily I didn’t see any snakes while crawling around the creek bed area. I say ‘see’, because I know they were in there some where. There were way too many nooks and crannies for snakes not to be living among the rocks of the creekbed. As for spiders though, I did see quite of few them. Flashbacks to my time to the Buddhist Monastery return to me. The little grey ones weren’t fun to see, and I thought about how my grandmother had once gotten bitten in Indiana by a Brown Recluse and almost lost a limb from it.
At one point I did disturbed a freakishly long centipede. I keep mumbling to myself ‘it’s their home James, you’re a guest in their home. This is where they belong and you don’t. Be nice.’
I hate their home. They need a new interior designer. And the front entrance really needs to be relocated…
The Highest of Mountains
I had to call it a day. I had looked long enough. I had risked physical safety. I had done more than I needed to. I had clearly passed into an area that I needed to get out of while the getting was still good.
And then I saw it…
The glint of gold that highlights where the ‘cockpit’ of the drone is…
I HAD FOUND IT!!!! WHOOOOOOOOO!!!!
My day was saved. My pride salvaged. And the price tag of my latest Amazon purchase redeemed.
I was ecstatic with joy. I probably even unknowingly did a happy dance.
But I had one more issue to contend with. Getting back up the valley to where my car was parked. I had images in my head of a Park Ranger finding my car later that night (with my body still trapped down below) and thinking ‘Damn Hoosiers! Keep getting lost in our nice Virginia mountains! When are they going to learn!’ Shaking him fist to the sky in mock rage.
Getting back up wasn’t easy. I did find a strong walking stick though. One that I kept, and plan on keeping as a souvenir of my survival on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Nearing the top was the worse of the climbing. Crawling on hand and knees upwards I had multiple spiders crawl over me. Fun times on the Parkway. 🙂
But I made it back, no worse for wear.
Except for a large number of prickly thorn like plant things now being attached to every inch of my clothes.
Once I got to the top I screamed at the top of my lungs a primal scream and listened to the echo off the mountains. It was pretty cool.
Getting back to my car there was another vehicle parked a little ways down from my own now. It had a Texas license plate and belonged to a gentlemen named William.
William had a button up shirt tucked into your khaki slacks and wore brown dress shoes. He also very prominantly displayed a necklace of the Crusifix on his chest.
“Doing some hiking this morning?” he innocently asked me.
“Not by choice. But ya. You could say I survived some hiking this morning…”
William and I trade stories of travel and discuss the spiritual principles of gratitude and humility.
William is a good guy. Gives me tips for getting in and out of New York City safely. Park outside the city, and take the trains in he says. Much easier that way.
He’s eatting a sandwich as we chat and we both take in the moment of being up in the mountain on this sunny fall day.
Before moving along I can’t help but ask ‘Hey, man do you mind taking my photo? I don’t think anyone’s going to believe this story otherwise’.
He’s more than happy to oblige. We’ll pass each other one more time on the parkway down the road.
I thank him for taking my photo. Brush myself off, and remind myself, make sure not to tell the family about this. I don’t need them to worry… 😉