Monday, July 03, 2017

Dehydration in Linville Gorge!

I might not have made it a full week past my 60th birthday:

Maybe the most physically exhausting day of backpacking of my life. It started out okay as I left camp at exactly 7:00 am. Maybe an hour and a half later I missed the main trail and ended up hiking down an unnamed spur trail. By the time I realized that I was not on the right trail I had descended a good 800 feet into the gorge, which meant that I had to turn around and climb back out! When I left camp I had what I figured was enough water to get me back to my truck. But climbing up the very steep trail in sweltering heat and humidity caused me to consume most of my water. Within a mile after returning to the point that put me once more on the main trail all of my water was gone. And I still had quite a ways to backpack. The forests in that side of the wilderness were completely wiped out by the drought-induced wildfire in 2007. So not only was I carrying my pack with no water and in hot weather, there was almost ZERO shelter from the sun.

I quickly began to become dehydrated. The only thing that I could do (since finding water was not an option) was to hike a hundred or so feet at a time and then rest for ten or fifteen minutes, hiding behind low shrubs for shade. A hike that should have taken two hours at most ended up taking me six hours. A nice couple from Tallahassee Florida gave me a liter of water that maybe saved me from passing out. As it is, drying out like that did something to my vocal chords. I can talk, but my voice sounds like I'm talking with sandpaper.

More later.

I love the National Forest Service signs for Wilderness Areas.

Approaching The Chimneys, one of my favorite areas of the Gorge.

Hiking down into Chimney Gorge on the way back up to Shortoff Mountain.

My campsite on Shortoff Mountain.

The whippoorwill in the night.

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