On June 7, 2012 my waterfall crazy friend Dave Aldridge invited me to go along with him to a waterfall in North Carolina called Huntfish Falls. It’s not that we have ran out of waterfalls to see here in TN (well Dave probably has) but due to low water levels and other issues, we have decided to start exploring the multitude of falls that North Carolina has to offer. We are fortunate to live so close to this area with only an hour + drive to reach them, and there are several waterfalls all very close together that one can see more than one on each trip. All are very nice and Huntfish falls are no exception. They are located in one of the many gorges just North of the Linville gorge on the Little Lost Cove Creek. We left Hairnt-quarters around 8:30 am and reached the trail head around 10:30 am. I noticed the circular white blaze on the sign and the trees along with the yellow blazes but I would not learn until later that we were actually hiking on the Mountains To Sea Trail.
This year was the 25th annual celebration of the Appalachian Trail that as of 2012 has been going right through the center of Damascus, Virginia for 75 years. The festival started back in 1987 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the trail going through what is known as ‘The Friendliest Town On The Trail’. Thru-hikers attempting to hike the entire length of the trail are in this area about this time of year and they are joined by thousands of other hikers who have either hiked the trail in previous years or wish they could hike it or are friends with someone who has. This year there were about 20,000 people who filled the small town of Damascus which has a population of about 1,000. This was the 22nd year since I have been attending the event since 1990, only having missed one or two years during that time. I have many friends who live there and even more friends who I only get to see there during this time of year so for us and I am sure many others, it is more like a hiker family reunion. This year there were a few of us that could not make it and they were certainly missed and we hope they can find a way to get there next year but due to the great distances that must be traveled along with the high cost of gas, then add the hard economy, it is understandable why some could not make the trip. We did make some new friends this year that I am sure will be coming back for years to come.
Another annual hiker’s feast has came and gone at Brown Gap and what a grand time it was ! This was the 21st one of its kind that has been done there since it started in 1990. There was at least 50+ thru-hikers that were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time whom most of them ended up staying the entire weekend to enjoy the mass quantities of assorted foods, fruits, snacks, and drinks that were provided for them. This is not your average ‘hiker feed’ that is typically found along the Appalachian Trail but rather an upgraded and highly refined feast that is the largest and longest running trail magic ever found in one spot. Details on its origins can be seen in a previous blog here. It is always held in late April approx. 3 weeks before the Trail Days celebration which is about how long it takes the average hiker to hike from Brown Gap to Trail Days in Damascus, Virginia.
I have been awhile in getting this one posted as it has been a very painful process. I was devastated when I heard that one of my closest friends had left this world at such an early age, especially under the circumstances of how it occurred. Stevie was a great person, a very caring and giving human being who would have given anything he could to anyone who asked. It was perhaps this endearing quality that led to this tragic event. My heart will always be sad from this loss until we can one day meet again. My heart goes out to the family and multitudes of friends that Stevie had, as anyone who ever met him, loved him. I will always remember the good times we had together especially each time I play my red Fender Telecaster that Stevie arranged for me to buy from his dad. R.I.P my dear friend, until we meet again on the other side.
In loving memory of Stevie ‘Hale Hound’ Hale.