Climbing Cardiac Mountain

Click the first image to open the gallery browser, then click the arrow >> to move forward and back. Just three images, so not much of a gallery.

We figure as long as we can make it to the top of our ridge–the one on the left (east) as you look down Nameless Creek Valley–we’re not dead yet.

The trudge is about 250 feet from creek level to ridge top logging road (from 1994.) We bushwacked this time–not that there’s anything like a trail following the path of least resistance. But this one was mostly straight up across the contour lines, over jumbled rocks under fallen leaves.

Now mind you, we don’t sprint to the crest. Time was allocated for frequent periods of observation and reflection (read: catching our breath, or questioning our competence for making sound choices regarding demands versus capabilities. And calculating the distance to the nearest defibrillator.)

I exaggerate. We did fine. And were pleased to find that the case for one more year confronting Cardiac Mountain.

FIRST IMAGE: Ann insisted we needed documentation, so here’s a selfie–our ridge on the other (west)  side of Nameless Creek Valley visible a quarter mile behind us.

SECOND IMAGE: Frankly, it’s been somewhat less of a draw to be up top since what our eyes saw in this shot was the ravaged landscape of the second image in the gallery. I will hold my thoughts about current “accepted forestry practices” and the abuses some logging folk make of good sense and good stewardship. These many too-steep acres where forest went to chip mills will be recovering for the rest of our lives and of those who move here after us.

THIRD IMAGE: Coming back DOWN from on high has its own set of challenges. You can see the mossy rock bluffs that we have to pick our way through down a steep zigzag between laurel and rhododendron to reach the “middle road” above Nameless Creek. Next time maybe we should just go ahead and carry an ankle, knee and hip AirSplint–just in case.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. The “click the first image” didn’t get me to the other two photos, but the link at the end of the post did. I hope you two use walking sticks for getting down all those ledges! Without the use of at least one stick, I would be in serious knee trouble. But maybe your knees are truly young at heart. That clear-cut view sure is sad. So sorry that happened.