Sunday, November 16, 2008

2006, Year of the Diet

2006 was a weird year for me. After spending almost every free weekend and holiday I had in 2005 hiking and bagging peaks, 2006 finished up as a very different year.

For one thing, it was the year my wife put the both of us on a very strict diet. I went from a size 40 pants to a size 36, and lost about forty pounds. My wife lost quite a bit more than that. I walked around hungry most of the time.

Another thing about that year was that it was the first full year that we had with our Casita travel trailer. Thus, instead of renting cabins in state parks, and tent camping, and staying in lodges and hotels, we hauled our Casita almost everywhere we went. That made for a very different way of spending our leisure time. It was also the year my novel THE FLOCK appeared in print, and the year that saw publication of the anthology EVERMORE that I created and co-edited for Arkham House Books. It was just a very different year for me. A very happy year, I have to say.

The beginning was weird enough. We stayed at this popular campground in the Pisgah National Forest. It was too dark when I got there the previous night to park the trailer in the right spot. So I left it in the pull-through driveway. Early the following morning hurricane-force winds whipped through the campground. A pine tree fell precisely where I was supposed to have parked. If the trailer had been there, it would have been shattered by that falling white pine. Fortunately, we weren't where we were supposed to have been.

Strange year though it was, I still managed to do quite a lot of hiking and to bag a number of peaks. Here begins a partial list:

The first peak of 2006: Stony Knob. I got an early start on the peak bagging that year. This was on January 15.

I got sidetracked after that on trips to Florida. My next mountain excursion was to the Cataloochee area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But it wasn't to bag a peak. I made that journey to locate the now-famous Sag Branch Poplar--the world's largest Yellow poplar tree. Here's Hank Pownell, me, and Jack Thyen standing at the base of that enormous tree.

It wasn't until June that I could get away to the mountains again. This was one of the most enjoyable trips we've ever made. Here Carole and I are with our friends Roy and Cindi Aiken and their children Emily and James. I can't even recall the name of this peak. I'll have to look it up. We had to bushwhack a bit into the forest to find the true summit.

Later on that same day, Roy gets a bit queasy looking down into the abyss on one of the intimidating slopes of Backbone Rock.

This might very well be my all-time favorite waterfall: Backbone Falls. Also on Backbone Rock. There are higher falls; falls with more volume; more isolated falls--but this one is just right at the top for sheer beauty and the great atmosphere of its location.

Carole snapped this in August at Indian Boundary Lake in Tennessee where we went to camp, hike, canoe, and find waterfalls. I didn't bag a single peak on that trip, but it was a lot of fun. I was starting to get toward thin around this time.

The grandstand view from our canoe.

These were the fantastic waterfalls in the Bald River Gorge Wilderness. The flow was great this trip because of the heavy rainfall. Around this time my clothes were really getting baggy--even the ones I'd bought to replace the lardass duds.

2006 will be continued later...

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