Benton MacKaye Trail: Deep Creek Bridge

Deep Creek Crossing

It’s October, 2009. I’m standing on the north side of Deep Creek in the Smokies. “It’s not good to be here alone”, I thought. “It’s not safe here. I shouldn’t be doing this by myself. I should turn back. Is there another way?”

I’m at mile 44, three miles shy of the half way point in the Smokies section of the Benton MacKaye Trail I’m looking at my map, tracing a possible alternate route around the swollen torrent that is Deep  Creek. I’m considering scooting across the tipped log that’s interrupted by perpendicular poles. That’s what the bridge had become.

“What a surprise!” Last June, on my first BMT traverse, this had been a simple walk across a log bridge. Now, crossing this big creek required a strategic decision.

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Hiking Memories: Four Seasons

Four Seasons on the Benton MacKaye Trail

Reflections on Mileposts on the Trail

Regina Reiter


BMTSouthbound – June, 2009; October, 2009; January, 2013
BMTNorthbound- April, 2010
BMT Davenport Gap to Beech Gap, January, 2010

Links: Photos, Journals, Reflections, Slide shows

http://www.trailjournals.com/mssnglnk     Pictures galore in many trail journals
http://forgivenesswalks.com/newsletter-archives/   Words for Winter Walking series

http://forgivenesswalks.com/benton-mackaye-trail/    First Winter Walk and Spring Walk slide shows

http://forgivenesswalks.com/benton-mackaye-trail-winter-thru-hike/   Second Winter Walk slide show

http://forgivenesswalks.com/free-resources/fabulous-foods-for-backpacking/  Upcoming Foods Course

 

 

 

Stream” Mile 119

It’s milepost 119 from the northern terminus of the Benton MacKaye Trail.

The six men in the BMTA Fall Backpack Trip party keep their pace stepping over  the two small streams there. They keep chatting as their feet land firmly on the flat triangle of earth between the streams.  In just seconds, they’re stepping up the steep bank and heading south on the trail, bound for the night’s camp at Cold Spring Gap.

“But wait!” I call. “This was my Winter Camp! I thought I could have DIED here!”

No one heard me as I alone halted at this unremarkable spot. The Fall foliage and dark Earth blended pleasantly with the gently rushing streams with no fanfare. My mind was rushing though as I relived the memory of my first winter walk. I had camped here two years earlier as snow fell, choosing a site with a water source and a surprise phone signal.

The snow fell through the night and morning revealed a world of white.  Wrapped up in my sleeping bag, peeking out under the edges of my tarp, I questioned my preparedness to go on alone in this deep snow, past the Cherohala Skyway into “The Heart of Darkness”, the ominous name for the remote 10-mile section of the BMT along the North Carolina/Tennessee state line.

Delighted with the beauty of the snowy woods, I was satisfied with the plan I had been able to make with Brenda Harris, a BMT friend who lived nearby, to pick me up at Beech Gap, about 4 miles south, the next morning. “You’ll have to wait until they open up the road,” she had said. Continue reading

Walking with Authenticity: Sunrise on Noland Divide

Sunrise on Noland Divide

From Regina’s 2013 Journal –
Winter Walk on the Benton MacKaye Trail

It’s our fourth morning on the trail. It’s still dark, but the short day length nudges me to wake up and get started before daylight. I listen. “It’s not raining! Hurray! “   The lack of falling rain, however, does not mean that it’s dry! Here at 4,000 feet elevation in the Great Smoky Mountains, it’s not raining because we are in the clouds.

Warm and snug in our double layer down sleeping bags, I can imagine pacing down the trail feeling warmed by brisk walking in the cold, foggy air. That will feel great! What deters me, however, is resisting the transition from being warm inside to being warm outside! In between, there’s a careful, methodical procedure of striking camp that promises a comical dance with cold and wet that unfolds in quickly executed steps. You see, we don’t carry extra clothes, just one set of inside clothes to wear in the tent, and one set of outside clothes to wear on the trail. Since it rained yesterday, our outermost layers are wet.  Our dance goes something like this:

  • Layer on a sweater and shoes without socks “Don’t touch the dry sleeping bags!”
  • “oooh. Wet shoes!”
  • Grab an umbrella and run out, sans pants to go down the trail and into the woods for toileting (It’s still dark and NO ONE else is around, so no worries about mooning anyone)
  • Run back to the tarp and remove the wet shoes. “Back into the sleeping bag, aaaah!”

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Benton MacKaye Trail Winter Thru-Hike Slide Show!

Regina, founder of Forgiveness Walks, completed the 300-mile Benton MacKaye Trail during a walk in January, 2013. Follow her journey, photographed by John Lemberg in slides and music.

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Let Regina and Forgiveness Walks inspire, train, and coach you to love yourself and your life just as you are, opening the gateway to shifting old beliefs and stories. As you do, vibrant energy, fulfilling relationships, and freedom from your past will fill your life.

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Resourcefulness on the Trail

In this photo, I’m wearing my food-bag skirt!

My shorts had ripped and my rainpants were too hot. When backpacking, I don’t carry extra clothes, just one of each type, except socks. I cut the bottom seam of my nylon food bag, which turned out to be just the perfect size for a drawstring skirt. It’s made of silnylon, silicon nylon, so it’s waterproof. It was a good rain skirt too!

When have YOU been resourceful, using something right at hand to fill in for something that you didn’t have.

A hiker’s motto I like is:

 

“If you don’t have it, you don’t need it!”

Dressed for rain

I made a skirt from my food bag when my shorts ripped.

Completing Heartsinging Projects

I’m standing on Big Frog Mountain just north of the Georgia-Tennessee border, marveling at the crystal bright snow and shuddering in the cold. “Let’s get out of this wind!  I’m glad we didn’t camp up here last night.”

My hiking partner and I turn to go, heading southward on the Benton MacKaye Trail. My shoulders bent away from the wind. My heart swelled with joy. “I’m within reach of my goal to walk this 300-mile trail all the way through in all four seasons! That’s so wonderful!”

Three years earlier, I had stopped short of this goal on the Winter leg of this project. I had met my match at mile 124 in a 6″ snowstorm that kept me camped out for a day then walking out to the next road to get a ride from my new friend, Brenda. It was a sort of rescue because I had gotten cold. My gear was inadequate for staying put in snow. At the time, I had convinced myself that it really was o.k. that I had not walked all 300 miles of the trail for my Winter walk. “You DID walk in Winter and that was your “winter walk”, a friend had cajoled.

Now, standing at mile 170, with just over 90 miles to go, I smiled inside that I had come back to the trail this winter and started over again at Mile 0.  Although that first winter walk was very powerful, beautiful, and complete in itself, it really was NOT what satisfied me.

And now, with my true goal looking attainable, I was glad I had stuck with the project.

Have you had a goal that has taken more than one try to complete?  Tell me about it! Let’s talk!

In joy,

Regina

Climbing Big Frog Mountain, GA January 2013

A Crystal path lay open before me!