April 3 2015
We got up at 4 am and drove back to Standing Indian. Mother Earth and I drove into the forest as the sky lit up crimson red and pink, silhouetting the trees as we climbed along the mountain road. We parked at the top and I filled my water.
I felt a mixture of emotions when I walked off alone. I was relieved that I no longer had to worry about taking care of my mother, but I felt that sadness that I saw in Peaches. I lost my hiking companion and now I had to face the trail alone. I wanted her to have this experience, but I couldn’t carry her with me. On trail, everyone carries themselves. I waved at her wearing her red flannel and hit the trail running. I ran up Standing Indian while remembering climbing the mountain when I was a child with my family and remembering my section hike with my father. It had been about five years since we started out at Standing Indian and walked to Erwin. And here I was now walking it alone, following behind this memory of myself as a little girl bouncing down the trail ahead.
We stood at the gap, shrouded in the freezing fog of a late March morning, and wondered how to get to town from the end of an untraveled dirt road, miles from everything. After about five minutes, a red truck pulled up and offered us a ride to town. We asked them why they were there, and they replied: to offer us a ride to town. This was my first experience with trail magic. The next morning, in a bright salmon pink sunrise, I began hiking again… alone. There wasn’t a day on trail I didn’t have her in my thoughts. It was our trip, but I needed it so much that I couldn’t stop. When I was a little kid my family and I climbed Standing Indian. When I was a teenager my dad and I hiked from Standing Indian to Erwin, Tn. It was as if I was handed off safely into known territory. I hiked the next section with my memories, and I hiked it hard
That night I stayed at a campsite just before Albert Mountain with Wingnut and Foxy. They directed me on how to make a better campfire and we told stories late into the night. Tonight I met Paul at the watering hole!