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My 129 mile walk down the Appalachian Trail - Charles Henderson's Blog

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Never would I have thought I would start writing at 73 years of age. I have thoroughly enjoyed my voyage into the written spirituality of poetry and am thankful for the opportunity.  In my seven years here I have met many new and wonderful persons. Having them accept me as a friend has been a moving experience.


My 129 mile walk down the Appalachian Trail

Blog Posted:12/13/2018 1:56:00 PM
My Appalachian Trail Poem
The Appalachian Trail is quite a long path.
Not many can go the whole way.
For those not content to do the math
It’s five million strides, so they say.
Most hikers elect to go part of the way.
A distance which can be done rather fast.
They usually walk less than a day.
An unusual and do-able week end task.
Ball teams love it to get into shape.
Boy scouts earn badges that way.
Others just want to view the landscape,
In an “up close” and personal way.
I once took my scouts to hike the trail.
We seven averaged twelve miles each day.
Six days without TV, Radio, or Mail
Newfound Gap to Fontana ... a long way.
We walked along beautiful ridges and peaks.
The view was ten miles more or less.
We walked along bottoms and followed the creeks.
Lined with fern, willow, moss and water cress.
We walked along hog wallows... smelling rank.
And many clearings filled with wild flowers.
We trekked many a long rocky bank,
Which took minutes which seemed like hours.
The buildings provided, to shelter and protect,
Are crude beyond normal expectation.
Twelve bunks inside and fireplace...I suspect.
Less for cooking than warmth and ventilation.
Three sides and a chain link fence with gate.
Ropes to tie shut and keep critters back.
All except the mice, chip monk and snake.
They were the real owners of the Adirondack.
At one such place we retired for the night.
Woken at midnight by shouts and lights aglow.
Men at the gate holding a young man upright.
He seemed bloody from head to toe.
The building full, yet no turning back.
They stumbled in along with ten more.
Twenty-two piled into the small Adirondack
They covered the bunks and the floor.
Sixteen holes in the young man’s back.
I talked as I cleaned but he needed to vent.
He began to tell of the vicious attack,
While I painfully applied antiseptic ointment.
He was alone in his tent, eating a candy bar.
Suddenly, as the bear’s head loomed into sight,
He dove into his sleeping bag, not getting far.
The bear, ripping and biting, carried him into the night.
Some forty feet down a slope where he stopped,
He released the young man momentarily.
With all of his might, what was hanging down, he socked.
The bear, in total despair, ran but somewhat impairdly.
The young man ran back, meeting help on the way.
After that, it was as I already have said.
He was later airlifted, checked, and pronounced a-OK.
But the five hundred pound bear ended up dead
Meanwhile, our troop moved on down the trail.
One more bear episode need be told.
We arrived at the next stop without fail
it was late evening and beginning to get cold
Two of us went to the horse spring for a bath
and use the same one to clean our clothes.
As we left the spring, we saw blocking our path
a mother bear and two cubs, fear arose
We hid behind a beechnut tree and watched them;
in our unlaced boots, carrying wet things.;
as they walked up the path toward the rim,
we knew we could not just ‘appear’ threatening.
We slowly followed, keeping the cubs in sight.
The mother seemed to have left the weanlings,
but soon appeared again up on the trail to the right.
As she jumped we started yelling with arms flinging.
They ran, she ran, we gathered our stuff and we ran.
Yelling and flailing, we chased them past the Adirondack
And right behind them, we duck into it fast as we can
and tie the gate shut, before they could come back.
And come back the did to playfully bite on the wire.
The boys were elated and good pictures were taken,
to show all back home that none of us were a liar.
Bruce and I recovered ater being so visibly shaken.
They finally left, and so came to a fitting end
our last bear episode and good laugh.
The other boys had at the expense and chagrin
on the oldest boy, and the ‘chief of staff’.
We hiked our last six miles with no major events.
Still time to glow for being a trail survivor.
Fontana Resort showers, condiments.
Then home....All slept soundly, except me, the driver
The Trip was in 1973. We went up on a Friday or Saturday. I think Saturday. We spent the night at ‘Deep Creek’ Campground, almost ten or so feet away from a group of girls scouts. You never saw so much show out, show off in your life. We left deep creek and there was at least one other car besides mine with two persons. One to drive mine on to our destination at Fontana. At the first roadside access to the trail we unloaded our gear and disembarked down the trail. We walked until it terminated 129 miles later, the following Saturday at Fontana Dam, where we had a good restaurant meal, a John Wayne movie, good hot showers, clean sheets and a bed. The boys who went were, John Miller, Alton Miller, Bruce Mattenson, Donnie Pierce, Andy Ratterman, Eric Gardner and Richard Andrews. Richard Andrews is now my dentist but I have long since lost touch with the other boys. I hope they have as many fond memories of the trip as I have.
Charles G Henderson, rewritten for the umpteenth time.
Redux on Sept 25, 2018, Charles G. Henderson
Wonderful memory deeply etched in my mind. My own son was too young to go, and afterwards I knew I had made the right decision, other than just not going until he was old enough. By then I was burned out from being a scoutmaster, and simply gave it up.

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Date: 12/21/2018 11:43:00 AM
Awesome story Charles. I noticed in your notes rewritten for umpteenth time. I like the story I like the adventure. You can write a book. A lot happened. I'm sure a lot of planning went into trip. I myself would like to know what it takes start to finish. You had to be tired at some point. You had to eat. I have a feeling you can do it Charles. It sounds like quite the adventure. Keep in mind all events happened in a desired manner. GO FOR IT CHARLES.
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Date: 12/15/2018 7:16:00 PM
Charles, I see your montage-So vintage the seed to a coursage-As you took your entourage-Through the roaring river floatage-Past fearing mountain passage-Onward with the roughage-As the seven boys and you faced nature's rage-On the grisly bears marked stage-Where the curtain call of doomage-Ever so close the cup of life spillage-From your tutelage births, seven boy's courage-In your light each owes you due homage-For the preparation of their life's voyage
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Date: 12/15/2018 6:50:00 AM
Have only seen it on T.V but it looks an amazing place. Enjoyed your verse Charles. Tom.
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Date: 12/15/2018 1:00:00 AM
Under Contests, one may click on "Short Stories" and there you will find a contest called, "A Day In Your Favorite Place." This well written and engaging poem might be something you'd enjoy tweaking into a short story so I thought I'd share. I bet you could come up with a most enjoyable entry! That's all I know ... CayCay
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Date: 12/14/2018 12:47:00 PM
Hi Charles....I am not a fan of long poems, but in this case you managed to keep my full attention all the way through! Quite a narrative! ~ May I take this opportunity to wish you all the best for Christmas and the new year.
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Date: 12/13/2018 2:29:00 PM
Charles, what a wonderful story. I've always wanted to walk the Appalachian Trail. Thank you for sharing it with us. ~Mark
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