A wet trail can be dangerous!

Friday May 26th started out wet but there was hope that it would turn into a very nice day. I had zeroed at Greenwood Lake NY, a beautiful little lake community. I was told that Babe Ruth , Micky Mantle and other athletes of the days gone by had frequented the town in their day. Also that Derek Jeter had bought a house for his mother there. Being a life long Yankee fan that just added to my enjoyment of the place. Thursday May 25th had been a completely wet day. The little inn I’d stayed at for my zero was right on the lake but it was so foggy and dreary I could barely see the water. But the old inn was cozy and a good place for my hiking wounds to heal. So after a full day of doing nothing except re-supplying I was ready to get back on the trail north. I got a ride out to the trailhead and while I was putting my pack on, a gentleman pulled up across the road, parked and walked over where I was. He was a local who was out for a morning hike on the trail and up to Fitzgerald Falls a mile or so north on the AT. We talked for a bit and I found that he was very knowledgeable about that part of the trail. He gave me information about water sources and camping sites that weren’t in the books. We said so long and off he went. I continued to strap on my pack and ready myself for the wet trail. As I said earlier, it had rained all day the day before so the leaves on every tree were full of water and waiting only for wind to create a cascade of water coming down much like rain. So with my pack enclosed in its rain cover I set out. The initial walk was a gorgeous stroll through tall oaks and pines and the air was fresh and clean. I quickly came upon the aforementioned Fitzgerald Falls and found it to be beautiful and powerful. The climb beside the Falls was on steps the trail maintenance folks had installed. The hike then followed the stream upwards for a while before crossing it to head up into the mountains. The hike went very well but was as I’ve stated a very wet trail. I slipped on several slick rocks but managed to keep my balance. Early in the afternoon another NoBo came up and passed me and we talked a bit, his trail name is Purge and he is from Cleveland Ohio. He is 30 something and a much faster Hiker and soon put distance between us. About an hour later I came up on him sitting by a stream having lunch. As I was making my way around him my left foot shot out from under me on a slick rock and down I went, thankfully I landed on my pack and wasn’t hurt. We hiked along together for a mile or so and I fell a couple of more times on the wet trail, each time unhurt. After a road crossing, we separated and he hiked on ahead. I headed across the road and started up another mountainside. In a mile or less I came to a wall of huge boulders that extended upward to what would be about a 15 story building. This part of the trail was more rock climbing than hiking but I really enjoyed it. It did however kick my butt. I would have much rather done it without the 30+ pound pack and when it wasn’t wet. I finally made the summit and stopped to rest a bit. After 5 minutes or so I continued on and was soon on the downhill side of the mountain. The rocks here were huge slabs of rock that covered the whole width of the trail. As I was descending one particularly steep slab the trail once again became a place where the water drained and it came out over the rock slabs. This became quickly very tricky to navigate because of the tilt of the rock slabs and the water. I was going along very slowly and being cautious when in an instant my feet shot out from underneath me and I landed solidly on my left elbow jamming it into my shoulder. I had fallen about 10 feet down and was stunned. In a minute or two I regained my composure and regained my footing and stood. I could walk, so after a bit I continued. Not ten feet further the fall reoccurred, this time I landed on my left hip and shoulder and fell much harder it seemed. Again I was stunned and in a lot of pain. Not knowing if I had broken anything I checked myself over and found that once again I could walk so I continued to what looked like a safe place to check myself over. After a bit I found that my elbow was banged up and that I couldn’t raise my left arm. I also had re-injured my left foot, the initial reason for the zero. Gathering my wits as best I could I tried to assess whether or not I would be able to make it off of the mountain. I sent a message to my family letting them know I’d been injured and that I was going to try to make it to Hwy 17 about .6 miles away. This was at about 2:30 p.m. I very slowly started then to make it the .6 mile very very steep downhill to exit the mountain. I could go about two to three hundred yards before having to stop because of the pain. I continued in this manner and after about two and a half hours I made it to the highway. I again contacted my family to let them know I’d made it out. While still on the mountain I had called and made reservations at a motel in a small town about 3 miles from the trailhead. I tried to hitch a ride but to no avail. I walked the 3 miles into town in a lot of pain. It’s now Sunday morning and I’m in a small regional airport in Newburgh NY waiting on a flight to St. Petersburg Fla. then tomorrow I’ll board another flight to Oklahoma, home. On Tuesday I’ll visit my family Dr. and see what the damage is and how long I’ll be off the trail. You never know what a day will hold, it could be very good or very bad or something in between. You can’t foresee the things that will befall you on a given day. In my case, I start every day the same way, thanking God for the opportunity to be alive and to be able to do all that I can do. I am a believer in God and His providence and I have given my life to Him to use as He pleases, no matter what. You say, well that didn’t turn out so well for you did it? I believe it will in the end, turn out exactly the way He planned it. His plan is just that, His and I believe it to be the perfect plan of the God who created and sustains all that exists. So, I await the coming days and so look forward to spending time with family and friends. Whatever the timeline is for my return to the Appalachian Trail I do not know, I will wait patiently for it. Until then, I have a lot of stories and memories to share with those I love. I am an advocate for God my Father and for His Son Jesus Christ my savior so all I need to do each day is suit up, show up and be obedient! How about you?

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