They call me Trail Guide now.
Ok. So maybe not everyone.
Maybe one person.
Only one person.
Calls me Trail Guide.
Called me Trail Guide.
But I have now successfully navigated Fall Risk through two hikes. In a row. Without losing us. Or breaking her.
Two for two.
This week we went to Apple Orchard Falls.
Now. To understand the enormity of my success. You need to understand that I have been to AOF exactly two times.
The first was well over a year and a half ago. And we took what felt like a fairly convoluted path around the area.
I couldn’t even remember exactly how we got to the parking lot. Because OT drove. And I was with, like, 10 people. Leading me. So I was not required to pay attention. At any point.
The second time was a few weeks ago. During the fake Promiseland 50k. And we took what was definitely a convoluted path for 35 miles around the area.
And parked way over in Bedford County. And AOF is apparently in Buchanan. So that didn’t help yesterday’s parking situation.
And GJB refused to leave me behind. So I was again not required to pay attention.
Honestly, I was really relying on Rogue to make this trip. So I could be absolved of any responsibility for knowing anything.
But she had to work.
So it was again up to me.
But I got us there.
To the parking lot.
And prior to the hike, Rogue had spent a lot of time using the words Falls Side and Creek Side.
And since I wasn’t going to be required to lead us, I played along like I knew what the fuck she was talking about.
So, when we got there, I went with my instincts. And pretended like I knew exactly what I was doing.
I mean, how would she know? She’s never been there before. What’s the worst that could happen?
And most of it felt pretty familiar. Initially.
I remembered this tiny waterfall cave.
Because it terrifies me. But also, I kinda wanna climb inside. And see what it’s like.
About halfway up, we found another trailhead.
But I have no idea where F.S. Road 3034 is. Or what F.S. Even means. So we kept going.
And I kept thinking, this should be the side with all the stairs.
And I kept waiting for the stairs thinking it will be way better on Fall Risk’s ankle. To be on actual stairs. Rather than bullshit rocky trail.
And Fall Risk kept making sounds. Like she was falling. And we had to make a new rule. So my heart would stop stopping.
No sound effects on the trail.
At one point, I realized she’d found a walking stick.
“I am ‘I found this walking stick to use’ years old.”
But it was a really nice stick.
And it seemed to be keeping her from re-breaking anything. So I fully supported it. You be whatever age you need to be to manage this without me having to call for rescue.
And then we got to this part.
And I paused. Because I’d forgotten about it. So I hadn’t prepared her for it.
“Ok. This is going to be complete bullshit. But only for, like, a second.”
“Also, I’m sorry.”
“Also, I love you.”
And then I checked to see if my phone had service.
But she managed it easily. And I was feeling good that we got through that. With no breakage.
And here’s where I lost the trail. For a minute.
Because I couldn’t remember anything after that rocky section.
I assume because that was the point in Promiseland where I was trying to leave my actual body. And exist on some other plane. That didn’t involve ultramarathoning.
And it looks like the trail just disappears.
And some kids were bushwhacking their way up the mountain.
I turned back to Fall Risk. Who was also watching the kids bushwhack straight up the fucking mountain.
“Well, I’m certain we don’t have to do that. I’d remember having to do that. I think if we just keep moving forward…”
And it was fine. We were fine. Everything was fine.
Because there is actually a trail there.
If you just trust the painted trees.
And just a little further up is this.
I mean, that’s worth it.
And here. Chatting with some folks that had come down from the Sunset Fields entrance. Is where I remembered. Or realized. Or whatever the hell happened in my brain. That the steps are above the Falls.
And it’s pretty up there. And there is that one really gorgeous view. Of some other mountains. I think.
But also, I was having visions. Of Fall Risk’s ankle. On that climb. And thought, “Nah, better not.”
So, I may have downplayed the beauty of that part. But she didn’t fight me on it.
And. Ok. Here’s where Rogue finally checked in on us.
And I admitted to having no fucking clue whether we’d come up Falls Side or Creek Side. Or how the hell to get to whichever other side we didn’t do.
And Rogue managed to decipher my ramblings.
And decided that we’d come up Falls Side. And if I wanted to maintain my friendship with Fall Risk, I’d take her back down the same way.
And so I did.
And for a minute, we thought we’d try another trail. That seemed to shoot past the bullshit rocky part. Thinking maybe it takes you to that other mystery trailhead.
But that bitch just kinda loops back around. To the bullshit rocky part.
Why. Like, why even do that. Why even make a trail loop like that.
On the way back, I decided to face my fears. And climb inside the tiny waterfall cave.
I’m glad I did.
And we eventually made it back to our cars.
Never lost. Not broken.
I’m a trail guide now.
And since Fall Risk managed to beast that little challenge. We’re gonna have to up the difficulty level for the next one.
And before any of you suggest it. No. Absolutely not. Because if shit is gonna go completely off the rails, it’s gonna be on North Fucking Mountain.
I will never, ever be the one to take Fall Risk to North Fucking Mountain.
Does F.S. stand for Falls Side?