Just when I thought I was going to have to go home to Raleigh to heal my sliced toe and knee, I got a phone call. On the other end of the line was my mothers cousin, Charlie. Charlie had been reading my blog, and just finished the latest one; which outlined my poor luck. After a short conversation, he offered for me to hole up with him in Waynesville, just a short 45 miles from the NOC. I graciously accepted and was on my way to his mountain retreat.
What made the offer even more significant and special, was the fact he had recently lost his wife, Emily, to a short battle with Pancreatic Cancer. Charlie and his children were planning a celebration of Emily’s life at weeks end, and he was loving enough to have this smelly hiker invade his space. When I was younger, I had only met Charlie a few times, so I was excited to be able to spend time with, and get to know a man whom my family had always adored.
For an entire week, Charlie and I spent every day together. He took me to the small town of, what used to be, Hazelwood; where his princess Emily was raised. He took me to all of his favorite dinner spots in Waynesville, of which none of them dissapointed. (Especially Frogs Leap Public House – a must stop if you’re ever in Waynesville). He always had some sort of dessert ready to tide us over ’til morning. He chauffeured me when neccasery, showed me his old stomping grounds at Western Carolina. He found, contacted and drove me to an orthopedic surgeon whom is possibly the best in the business, and he even let me borrow the car to have some alone time.
We spoke about things we enjoyed and hated…about politics, technology, cuisine, books, our pasts and our futures. He is as well rounded and kind hearted a man as I have ever known.
When reading about, and talking with friends about their experiences on the trail, one thing was always constant; community and magic. Even though Charlie may not know it, this experience was yet another example. This past week was a tough time for both Charlie and I, albeit in vastly different ways. I am grateful to have had him help me through mine, and hope I was able to help him through his.
If you’re reading this Charlie, thank you again for your time, effort, hospitality, and love this past week. It meant more to me than you know. I wish you, Bonnie, Scott and the rest of the family all the best. I look forward to seeing you again, friend.
Injuries and Timeline Update:
Orthopedic doc said my knee pain comes from something called Plica Syndrome. Although I had no clue there was anything called a Plica in your knee…apparently it is an oyster like membrane that connects your patella to your thigh bone. That oyster is now chronically inflamed and will continue to cause pain until it is either removed or I stop hiking. Neither of which will be happening. I will continue to hike until I reach Big K, at which time I will further pursue pain relieving therapy.
For my toe sliceration…it is healing. The pain has mostly subsided and has only a small portion of open wound left to heal. I tested it with my shoes and full pressure today, and it feels good enough for me to make the hike out of the NOC tomorrow. Although I am a week behind my itinerary, I still plan on making the miles I have listed. So, if you’re following along, disregard the dates and follow the miles. Next destination, the myrtle beach of the mountains, Gatlinburg, TN.
Cheers to all and happy hiking,