Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wedding Hike

Lora and I decided to get married. As usual you pick out the date and then work like hell to get everything else to fall into place. The easy thing was to get rings. Ya right. We knew what we wanted, but finding them was another ordeal. After a lot of internet searching and some internet searching, I finally found a place to do what we wanted…..but not on our schedule. With a little finagling we got them to do a rush order.

So I called the ranger station at Big South Fork. I need to know how close I could get the official to the Angel Falls Overlook by car. He told me that you could get within 500 feet of the overlook down a road. He said that it gets a little rough towards the end. Cool, we could work with that. Now what else is there??????? Oh ya, the official.

Well how hard is it to find someone that would hike to the top of a mountain to marry a wonderful couple? We called, we searched, and we went off recommendations. We had people that knew people of friends of people who referred us to people. Still no luck. Finally, Lora got a connection and I called the Scott County Trustee, Jimmy Byrd, and he said yes. I said ya right. We still had a week to spare.

All is going well. Jimmy agreed to meet us at the Brandy Creek Campground at 11:00 and he would drive us up to the overlook. He would leave us there and we would hike back the next day.

Saturday, I got off work and headed to Crossville where I was going to meet Lora. I called Jimmy and he said that he would be leaving in a few minutes to meet us. That seemed kinda early and a little light went on. “Are you on Eastern time?” Why ya. OK, I can still pull this off. I picked up a little speed and we made it there about fifteen minutes after 11:00. On the way into the park, I also remembered that we needed a backcountry permit. So a little bit later, we finally started down the road.

Running off that fine memory of mine, I promptly had him turn on the wrong road and drive it to the end. After pulling the map out of my pack, we regrouped and headed down the right road. I did that just to build up Jimmy’s confidence as I led him off into nowhere USA.

Right as we hit the end of the gravel road there was a trailhead kiosk. That’s it. It’s got to be where we hike in from. I looked at the trail signs and yep this is where we belong. We grab our packs and Jimmy and his wife found a pen to sign all the official paperwork. Off we go.

Boy oh boy this is a long 500 feet. After seeing the doubt in everyone’s face, I hiked ahead to see how much further we had to go. After another 500 feet I decided to check out the flat area next to the trail. It was the road bed. A two rut road. So we left the ladies standing on the road and we went back for the truck. When we got to the truck we noticed the two rut road was going the wrong direction. So we decided to go back, get the ladies and hike a little further.

Jimmy locked the doors on his truck this time and off we went. After hiking about halfway back to the ladies, I noticed a red vehicle parked up next to the trail. I pointed it out to Jimmy and he said “Yes, that’s my truck.” The trail had made a large loop and crossed right next to where the truck was parked. After a little laughter, we went to the truck. I promptly reached through the open windows and unlocked the doors. With some more laughter we headed down the two rut road. We no sooner cleared the first hill, when we came up to the ladies standing there. More laughter.

After we loaded up the ladies we got down the road until we came to a major mud hole. Jimmy made the call that that was as far as we were going. We unloaded and started our second hike to the overlook. After another 500 feet, I hiked ahead and saw we had a ways to go. I came back and said that Jimmy could marry us right here in the woods. No, Jimmy had his hiking legs on now and he said that it couldn’t be much further and let’s get hiking. To the overlook we went. We actually got married on the Fall Branch Gorge Overlook which we came to first.

We preformed the ceremony as Jimmy’s wife took pictures. Afterwards we hiked back to the truck and backed down the road until we found a place to turn around. We grabbed our packs and said our goodbyes. The Byrds’ headed home with a new wedding story to tell and Lora and sat down and ate lunch. Jimmy and his wife were wonderful people and we really enjoyed our time with them. We are very grateful that they put up with us and performed our marriage.

After lunch we hiked back to the overlook and then continued on the Grand Loop Trail. As dinner time came on we found an old road bed to set up camp on. Lora, with her on time thinking, reminded me that we have to cut a cake. Since we didn’t have one, we took pictures as we cut our candy bar. We had a wonderful evening talking about our exciting day next to the campfire looking at the wonderful stars overhead.

The next day we hiked to the Fall Branch trail and took the John Litton Farm Loop trail back to Bandy Creek campground. We drove from there down to Leatherwood Ford and had a picnic lunch on the Ford Bridge.

While we ate, we had a couple of lightweight backpackers go by. They were heading to the Angel Falls Overlook for the night. When they walked by we looked at their backpacks. On the back of the guys pack, he had a case of Gatorade attached and a full size Colman lantern. The lady had a bundle of stuff hanging off her pack, but you could see both ends of the full bag of Kingsford charcoal. WOW…. They have a lot to learn.


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