Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Back to the Beach

I'm back at the beach on Topsail Island, NC after a wonderful hiking adventure.  Although I'm acutely missing the stimulation of a daily hike through new territory, I had to come back home for a while.  I had hoped to complete the entire Mountains-to-Sea Trail before I came back, but it was not to be.

I wanted to come back home for two reasons:  First, to watch all of the World Cup soccer matches, and second to finally get my long-abiding novel from manuscript to publication (here on this blog--see the sidebar).  Of course it is also summer, and my home is on the beach.  Here, on my first couple of day hikes on the beach (hiking the current route of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail on Topsail Island, I must remind you), I encountered a relatively rare American Oystercatcher - shore bird that faced local extinction in the NE United States not long ago - distinguished by its heavy, bright-orange beak:

I came face-to-face with Yoda (Supreme Jedi Master from the Star Wars space-opera franchise) in his blue crab guise:

... and I found a beach ball:

Now  ...  coming back to the beach from western North Carolina was not the simple matter for me that it would be for the normal thru-hiker, who just needs to get their body and their backpack full of gear home.  For me as a serial day hiker, the logistics were a bit more complex.  I was supporting myself using two vehicles.  I was hiking between vehicles, executing a 'leap-frog' scheme:
  • Begin a hiking adventure with two vehicles parked at point A
  • Drive vehicle 1 ahead to a trail crossing or trailhead at point B
  • Hike back to vehicle 2 at the starting point
  • Drive vehicle 2 ahead, leap-frogging vehicle 1, and parking at a trail crossing or trailhead at point C
  • Hike back to vehicle 1
  • Drive vehicle 1 ahead, leap-frogging vehicle 2 and parking at point D ...
  • Continue this procedure to the end of the day, when one vehicle is left at a trailhead and the other vehicle becomes my over-night venue, or becomes the transportation to an off-trail  destination, such as a motel.
So when the hike was finished I needed to get two vehicles back home.  The tactic: Park one vehicle at a trusted location, which in my case was Carver's Gap on the Appalachian Trail in the Roan Highlands.  Drive the other vehicle home.  Find transportation back to the first vehicle and drive it home.

In my case I flew back to Asheville from the wonderful little regional airport in my home area.  Then I hired a shuttle driver to get me to Carver's Gap.

And therein lies a bit of a story.  The shuttle I chose was Harry Siegel's one-vehicle operation, known simply as the Asheville Airport Shuttle.

Harry with his van at Carver's Gap.  Note the AT sticker.
And a quick 'selfie' before heading home to the beach

The choice was a no-brainer.  Harry is an Appalachian Trail 2000-miler (1996-98), and the home page of his web site prominently features his discount services as a trail shuttle driver.  Based in Asheville, he would also be a natural first choice for Mountains-to-Sea Trail hikers who want to do a section or even some local slack packing.  Give Harry a call.  Besides being a consummate professional driver, he's a great joy to talk with.  During the 90+ minutes it took us to get from the airport to Carver's Gap, Harry and I practically exchanged our life stories, with particular emphasis on our Appalachian Trail experiences.

So with both vehicles, me, and all my gear back safely home at the beach, it's time to knuckle down at the computer and write, write, write, proof-read, proof-read, proof-read!  Stay tuned for the big announcement as 'Eden's Womb' launches right here on this blog :-)

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