Rescued by a Green Dragon
Blue Mountain is an over-eager aerobics instructor in blue leg warmers; cheering you on saying “you got this!” When you clearly don’t. There is absolutely no reason to shout encouragement with a bright smile unless you very clearly don’t got this.
The innocuous bump on the topographic map was miniscule next to the mountains that followed it…Rocky, Tray, Kelly’s Knob. Each one steeper than the one before it. Blue Mountain was all “this is just a warm up, guys! And one, and two!”
Expectations are important. Here’s what I want—a map that says “Blue Mountain, it sucks. We don’t know why it sucks. Look how small it is.”
My sister and I were about halfway up when I ran out of steam. “This is an awful lot of uphill,” I said.
“Myrt, it’s a—,” Walkie started in.
“I know, I know. A mountain range,” I said.
Near the top of it, a young trail-runner zipped by us going in the opposite direction. Tendrils flying about her glowing face.
Coming down the other side, a winding back-country Georgia highway in sight through the trees, I was popping down yet another root step when my knees buckled. Just completely floored, grounded? By old Blue Mountain.
“You okay?” My sister tromped back up the hill towards me.
“Yeah, I think so,” I said.
“You sure?” She offered.
“Yeah, I don’t think I can stand up, though,” I was squirming, trying to make my legs and ankles work together. My pack felt like an 80 lbs. bag of cement pushing me down.
Walkie reached down and heaved me up, my knees bearing fine imprints of crystalline dirt.
The last 50 yards were perhaps not hellacious and only purgatorial. I could see the moments of rest waiting for me down there in the gap, but I couldn’t reach them yet.
I used the porta-potty. I hobbled across the gravel strewn parking lot. I tried to walk it out. I did.
“Are you sure you can make it up Rocky?” My sister asked, its looming presence just before us across the road.
“Sure, no problem,” beads of sweat lay on my brow.
“We could stay at a hostel tonight. There’s a brand new one here. I looked into it.”
“Oh gosh, no, I don’t want to quit. And who would pick us up this late in the evening?” I said to her rubbing my knee.
She was already dialing the Green Dragon Hostel, “I’ll just ask.”
Bill picked us up twenty minutes later, eager to welcome us, loading our packs into the back of his car, and tucking us safely inside. September might not be peak hiking season along the trail; still, the hostel had stayed busy, but tonight Bill had the place to himself. He might have turned us down, calling him so late, kicked back and watched football all evening, but he was excited. This man was thrilled to have guests, and he had a story to tell…
The evening had found him alone due to an unforeseen series of events involving a hiker who had shakily called for help the evening before when a bear wandered into her lone campsite, retreated when she blew a whistle at him, and then, returned and walked all the way up to her tent, brushing aside it and generally stomping around sniffing.
“So, I’m never hiking again,” she told them. “At least not alone.”
“Oh no, ma’am,” Donna (Bill’s wife) interjected. “You are fierce and strong. You are exceptional, in fact, and you are going back out tonight. And I’m going with you.”
So, Donna and the newly dubbed Liberty Bear, were out camping together this evening along the trail, and Bill found himself cooking alone for my sister and me.
“Tell me how everything is,” he said, laying down plates loaded with lasagna and broccoli.
“It’s amazing,” we told him with our mouths full. He could have given us a piece of bread, and that would have been amazing. Hiker hunger is such that the paper towels themselves hinted at sustenance. But lasagna? This was heaven. I had traveled down my purgatorial mountainside and been rescued by a Green Dragon. Like those giant birds from Lord of the Rings who waited until the very end to show up, I wondered why we hadn’t just skipped the hiking and gone straight for the hostel.
Our deus ex machina. Our ghost in the machine. Our Green Dragon.
And this wouldn’t be the last time Bill and Donna and their green dragon would come to the rescue. The woods hold a unique adventure for everyone who ventures there. And my sister and mine had only just begun to reveal itself.
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Walkie Talkie here! I can say enough about Bill & Donna at Green Dragon Hostel, and our time with Liberty Bear. Thanks for making our trip so memorable! Has their been a hostel on your hiking travels that has saved your trip?