Tuesday, December 2, 2014


I love the ridge that runs from Shumont Mt out to Rumbling Bald. It is one of the most seriously rugged places in these mountains!

I remember the scouting trip I took to investigate the first section of it, back in the early '70s. I was with a couple of friends at Eagle Rock, and we decided to explore a bit. We climbed the old logging road going up Shumont to where it forks in three directions. My friends decided to hang out in that area, but I wanted to explore a little farther. I took the left fork, thinking it had to be the one going out that ridge. It is, in fact it follows the top of the ridge all the way to Rumbling Bald and on down to Lake Lure.

On this day I had just started out the ridge and was in the area marked by an arrow in my photo. Just above that big cliff.

I was accompanied by my trusty trail dog Fonzie.

He had been with me over miles of trails, and through places so rough I wasn't sure I could get out alive. He was a great companion, but had one bad habit. If he caught a whiff of where some animal had been he would take off running as fast as he could to investigate. That's what he proceeded to do here, running off the side of the ridge right towards where I knew that cliff was! I tried to call him back, but once he got on a run there was no stopping him til he was done with his investigation. I was used to the behavior, and he always came back, but this time the location was making me nervous!

So I waited, and called, and clapped, and whistled. No Fonzie. I tried finding a way down to the cliff, but it was too steep and dangerous, and I gave up. Waited some more, trying not to worry. He would be back any time now... I'm not sure how long it was, probably close to half an hour. Way too long!

Finally he came running back up the hill to me. I never saw him in such a state! He was panting as hard as I had ever seen. His muzzle was covered in froth. I grabbed him in a big hug, and he was trembling all over. He acted like he had been through the ordeal of a lifetime! And this was the same dog who would frolic all over Eagle Rock with no fear. Who later went through the Bonas Defeat Gorge like it was a walk in the park!

All I can do is guess what happened. I think he pulled a “Bonas” and ran off the top of the cliff. Fell and / or slid no telling how far down. And then took a half hour to fight his way back up somehow. I wish I knew the details, but I do know how scared he was, and how happy he was to see me again. And I was glad to see him too!

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