Sunday, August 3, 2008

Me and the Mountain Man picking blueberries at Ivestor Gap, North Carolina

This is Berlin Churchill Owen, 65, who I met after getting lost on a trail. He knows these mountains like the back of his hand and has been walking them since he was a little boy. He is also a search and rescue expert (finding lost hikers like me) and actually knew the man for whom the trail was named, Art Loeb. We continued hiking together and he showed me all the best blueberry patches. We poured out the water from our water bottles to collect berries. Probably NOT the best idea...since we still had more miles to hike.

I call this Blueberry Hill. I don't know its real name but this is where I got lost (click to enlarge and notice all of the trails converging--upper left). It was at this crossroads that I met Berlin. The center mountain is where we loaded up on sweet, wild blueberries before heading to Tenant Mountain on the trail to the lower left of this photo

Berlin's dog, Bandit, an expert hiker himself. He stays very close to Berlin's heels. Many other dogs get lost in this area including, on this day, Lucy...a black mutt.

Berlin and Bandit on the way to Tenant Mountain summit

With some of our loot in hand (some berry pickers left behind a tropicana jug which Berlin is carrying and which we wished we'd found before emptying our water bottles), Berlin heads up to the summit of Tenant (right). On the left is the summit of Balsam Mountain

The barely visible trail to the summit of Tenant Mountain (why I needed an expert guide)

The view from Tenant Mountain along the Art Loeb trail

The Art Loeb Trail over Tenant Mountain

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