After a good meal at a smoke house resturant, converted from an old hardware store in Abingdon VA, a good night sleep at America’s Value Inn, and a waffle breakfast, it was time for a tearful departure. George an older trail volunteer picked me up to take me back up the mountain by way of a God forsaken road that once managed a narrow gauge railway. This tough old volunteer unphased by the huge rocks and washed out craters. Along the way without knowing my story he told me about losing his 24 year old son 30 years ago. I gave a brief account of my sorrow and with few words we bonded on that rock infested access road. We swapped contacts, I said goodbye with a new found respect and a burning to be made into a real man. That was my prayer for the next several hours .
The trail flattened out, gone were the rocks, rain, and ascents that plagued my walk with Lori. I wanted it to be rough , I wanted to feel the burn, I wanted to suffer. But instead of stress, I felt like I was being killed with kindness from a gentle trail and two trail magic stops. I rejoined Young Blood who saw my sadness when he asked about my wife. He made the point to bypass the shelter to camp with me above a river. We both got to share about our lives, loves and losses. As we talked from our tents I slowly fell asleep realizing I’m not all by myself .