A.T. and Jenkins Ridge Junction
Trail junction. Met Rob Burns, a ridgerunner with the Smokey Mountain Hiking Club (SMHC). Ridgerunners are trail caretakers who traverse a section of trail. Their assignment is anything from litter collection to light trail maintenance (clear debris from the trail) to education (where trails go, history of the area, how to properly use ones gear) to being a general ambassador of the trails for folk.
We talked about the unprepared section hikers from Mollies Ridge. This morning, Bruce the section hiker fell ill with some major abdominal pain and his companions were trying to find a way down the mountain. They were hoping to call in a helicopter.
Rob said it happens more than one might guess. Unprepared for the terrain, or the weather, or out of shape, or simply lost -- folks will then expect the Park Service to save them ('send up a car!', or in Bruce's case, request a rescue helo fly-in. Unlike Bruce, most folks aren't in serious medical need, but they have unrealistic expectations when they hike into the woods.
I thought about the lack of feeling developing in my toes, the pain in the R ankle and knee, oh and the L achilles. How much goes wrong with a body and how hard do you push before you've pushed too hard?