ODYSSEY 2021: Bama to Baxter-Hike On!

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Yes folks, Nimblewill has laced up his Oboz trekkers and is shouldering his Murmur backpack
one more time–for the last, last time!

This year’s odyssey will be known as “Odyssey 2021 ‘Bama to Baxter – Hike On.”  This will be the ultimate journey in this old man’s life, one of body, mind and spirit.

This trek begins at Flagg Mountain, the southernmost mountain in the Appalachians
Mountain Range. From Flagg he’ll follow the Pinhoti Trail through northeast Alabama into
Georgia where he’ll connect with the Benton MacKaye Trail–which leads to Springer Mountain
in north Georgia. On Springer Mountain he’ll pick up the Appalachian Trail and hike it on to
Mt. Katahdin in Maine.
Journal entries and photos will be posted often. Gonna be another predictively unpredictable
Nimblewill Odyssey – Bama to Baxter 2021 Hike On.

Sure be great to have y’all come along…

Journal 121-ODYSSEY 2021: Bama to Baxter-Hike On!

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Sunday–June 20, 2021
Trail Day–121
Trail Mile–-14.8/1,338.6
Location–Bearfence Parking Area, Skyline Drive, then to Airbnb, Stanardsville, AT Mile 920.0

Barry Riddle has come to support me again; he’s driven all the way from Prattville, Alabama, arriving late yesterday. Tulip prepared a fine meal for us, and after, we enjoyed the evening together.

Breakfast this morning is Barry’s usual, a fried egg and cheese sandwich washed down with plenty of coffee. Fresh picked peaches from Alabama, too. Plenty of energy for this day.

And there’s no waste of energy as the hike starts out with a seven-hundred foot climb up to, then over and down off Hightop Mountain. The climbing continues over Saddleback and Bearfence where I end the day. Tulip spends nearly the entire day on trail with me. T-Bone has taken time from his business and he and Barry hike some with me too.

There’s a magic, captivating, and romantic appeal about the Shenandoas. The entire region has an emotional appeal. I felt and experienced it when I hiked here nearly four decades ago–and the appeal is just as strong today.

Back at our spacious cabin, Tulip & T-Bone prepare a Thanksgiving-like turkey (with all the trimmings) supper–on this memorable Father’s Day.

 

You can keep your whiskey and your burbon and your beer,
‘n hang onto your scotch and gin and other forms of cheer.
Don’t offer me no sody pop no coffe or no tea,
For I am high on Shenandoa’s pure sweet majesty.
(N. Nomad – 6-86)

Journal 120-ODYSSEY 2021: Bama to Baxter-Hike On!

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Saturday–June 19, 2021
Trail Day–120
Trail Mile–-14.9/1,323.8
Location–Smith Roach Gap, then to Airbnb, Stanardsville, AT Mile 905.2

The Airbnb cabin we’re staying in has a bathtub. Oh yes, filled it with the hottest water I could stand, then soaked my old bones for the longest time. This routine is pure therapy. The hot water gets my blood really going, which loosens and soothes my stiff old joints after a long hammer-it-out day on the trail.

After my bath–and supper, T-Bone brings his guitar out and plays and sings the most joyful old songs. It was a happy and fun-filled evening.

T-Bone has coffee on by five-thirty this morning, and he places a full plate of eggs, sausage, and toast in front of me shortly after.

A cool morning as T-Bone drives me up toward Skyline. Same deal here this morning. No one at the toll gate shack, shades pulled, gates open. T-Bone goes right through.

Back to Doyle’s River Trailhead, I’m out to another glorious day by seven-thirty.

T-Bone has commitments he’d previously made for today. So, he heads to Roanoke. He’ll be back up again soon though, hopefully to get in some hiking time with me.

The mid point in my hike today is Pinefield Gap. Tulip has driven there with lunch, and from there, on up to Smith Roach Gap, where she’ll hike in to meet me. I’ve a good amount of climbing to do (more rocks) but manage to make decent time. Tulip meets up with me at Flattop Mountain and we hike together on down to Smith Roach–to end the day.

 

I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for…
friends who have given me a heart full of joy.
(Charles R. Swindoll)

Journal 119-ODYSSEY 2021: Bama to Baxter-Hike On!

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Friday–June 18, 2021
Trail Day–119
Trail Mile–-11.6/1,308.9
Location–Doyle’s River Trailhead, Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, then to Airbnb, Stanardsville, AT Mile 890.3

A short-mile day today, so we give ourselves another half hour this morning–alarm goes off at five-thirty.

Going to be an emotion-filled day; Safari will be leaving, and Tulip will be rejoining me.

No one is manning the entrance to Skyline Drive this morning (it’s a little after seven). The shades are pulled, but the gates are open, so Safari drives right through. We’ve got Skyline to ourselves, all the way to Wildcat Ridge. Another glorious day to be alive (and hiking Shenandoah National Park). I’m back on trail by seven thirty.

Trail conditions have changed dramatically in just the last two days, from cobbed-up boulders and rocks, to smooth, unobstructed tread.

The halfway point for today (approx.) is Blackrock Gap Trailhead. Plan is to meet both Safari & Tulip here late morning. Moments after I get here by trail they both arrive. From here Safari follows Tulip up to Doyle’s River Trailhead where Tulip leaves her van–and Safari brings her back to Blackrock, from where Tulip and I can now hike north together to Doyle’s.

Then it’s that (don’t want to deal with it) sad time again. Goodbye Safari, what a grand time we’ve shared! Your support for me during this journey has been such a blessing! Be safe on your two full day’s drive home.

It’s another beautiful afternoon for hiking the Shenandoah National Park. And the trail is beautiful too, so friendly to my tired old puppies! I send Tulip out ahead, as she is such a fast, strong hiker. She stops at intervals and waits for me.

A much anticipated point in this trek arrives today, the halfway mark–1,300 miles. It’s taken me 119 days to get here. But I’m here, and hiking well. The goal now is to hike 100 miles per week. That’s a tad over 14 miles per day. I’ve been meeting that goal recently and am confident I’ll be able to continue–for thirteen more weeks. And thirteen weeks? That’ll do it for Odyssey 2021 – Bama to Baxter – Hike On!

The remainder of this day passes quickly. Tulip & T-Bone found a nearby Airbnb; it was available, and they took it for three nights. And so, Tulip loads the old Nimblewill and we’re headed there, arriving in no time flat!

T-Bone comes up early evening. Tulip prepares the best spaghetti and meat balls for us. Ahh, and T-Bone has brought ice cream!

What an absolutely amazing day…

 

 

How lucky I am to have something
that makes saying goodbye so hard.
(A.A. Milne)

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