Overnight in the cabin, Tropical Storm Cindy descended on us. Lightning flashed all night and I couldn’t hear the thunder over the sound of my mother’s snoring. My feet were freezing due the prune-like state of saturation they had been in all day. I should have worn my Gore-Tex boots.
The heater had been set on medium, but it never came on. Mom and I placed our wet shoes in front of the pilot light, hoping that it would dry them to a somewhat damp stage.
My last thoughts before falling asleep were those of dread. I knew the morning would bring about another day in Purgatory, with us having to walk down the mountain. My mother made a statement about waking me up if she needed to use the restroom at night. We were advised that bears have been active around the camp at night and to be sure and use a flashlight. This would not have helped my mother, as she is blind in one eye and has trouble seeing in daylight. I told her,”Mother, if you have to pee in the middle of the night, do NOT wake me up. Use the freaking water bucket.”
By the time the sun rose, my bladder was about to pop. I had been holding it so long that my back was beginning to hurt. I’m sure my mother was feeling the need to relieve as well. I took her to the restroom and then gathered hot water for us to perform our ablutions for the day. We trudged through the cold rain to the lodge, where some older man thought he was the house musician. His companion asked him to play a jingle “in the key of F.” Judging by their clothes and demeanor, I realized they were from California. As James Taylor began his chanting, I gathered my things to go back to the cabin and pack up.
At 8am the breakfast bell rang and all the campers filed into the dining hall, placing rain jackets over the chairs. Platters of steaming pancakes and pots of coffee were set out on each table. The staff brought out a large plate of scrambled eggs, topped with Canadian Bacon. The next plate was full of fresh biscuits followed by a large bowl of creamy grits. I advised my mother to stuff herself so that we did not have a repeat episode of the previous day’s hike.
After prolonging our departure, the manager, Chris, advised everyone about the six inches of rain that occurred overnight. It seems as if the area would be under a flood watch for the day. Great. He also asked who was going down Trillium Gap Trail. That would be me and ole Mom, so I raised my hand like a little school girl.
“You’re doomed!” Chris bellowed. He then advised that he was just kidding and asked if we would call the Main Office after our descent and advise of fallen trees so that the llamas could bring supplies the next day. After this request, we decided to say our goodbyes and depart for another day of hell hiking.
As soon as we left the camp area, a large buck was eating grass at the start of the trail. It was a super-cool moment as he stared at me and I stared at him. We moved cautiously around each other and then he darted off into the woods.
Our shoes were already wet, so Mom and I had no problems walking through the trail, which was now a small stream flowing down the mountian. Mom was moving slow due to her stiffness from the walk up, but the old girl was doing pretty good. She said she just wanted to “Get the hell to the car.”
We walked the first hour without stopping. At this point, I was pretty proud of my mother. It was kind of spooky walking while it was overcast, with drizzling rain and a fog rolling over the trails. This was horror movie atmosphere. I was waiting for Jason Voorhees to come crashing through the woods with a chainsaw.
We came across many new waterfalls over the trail, most of which were easy to walk through. About half way down, we came across an enormous waterfall that was at least thigh deep. I told Mom to step where I step and to take her time. Did she do this? Not at all. She was so close up my behind, that everytime I stopped, she bumped into my backpack and almost made me lose my balance.
She looked at the waterfall…”I can’t do this!” She yells over the roar of the water. I replied,”Yes you can. You have to and its the only way to the car.” She stuck her walking stick into a crevice and stepped into the raging water. She was doing pretty good, and then she tried to hurry and took a big, long stride where she was almost doing a split. The force of the water was causing her to sway and she was on the verge of losing her balance and tumbling over the edge of the trail. She had her walking stick in both hands and was using this to keep herself up. She finally regained her balance and made it across the falls. This was only the first of many falls we had to walk through to get back down.