By Ralph Hood
Erwin is fortunate to have hiking trails, including the Appalachian Trail (AT) which runs from Georgia to Maine.
Hikers are usually very friendly. I met one lady who was setting a new record for the entire AT. One of my college friends, Ed Selby, has walked the entire AT not once, but twice! On one trip he and another hiker caught a ride from Uncle Johnny’s to downtown Erwin. They shopped a bit then tried to hitch hike back to Uncle Johnny’s. Nobody would pick them up. Ed walked into a pizza shop and ordered two pizzas to be delivered to Uncle Johnny’s. Then he asked if they could ride along in the truck with the pizzas. It worked!
(By the way, Ed was top man in a skydiving club at Clemson. He trained me and I jumped myself.) This past week, Gail and I walked on the trail at Rock Creek Recreation Area. We met a group of four young adults and five children. They were all immigrants from — believe it or not — the Ukraine! They had come to Johnson City about five years ago and plan to stay in the United States forever. They were friendly and were having a good time. Their children were, as the old song says, “Born in the USA.”
“What,” I asked one of the men, “is the biggest difference between the USA and the Ukraine?”
His answer was wonderful. “Here,” said he, “people smile.”
I smiled at him. Folks, we have hiking trails with creeks, rapids and waterfalls. You can walk at your speed and at your wish. I have all sorts of ailments and walk with a cane; I will be 80 years old the week this column is published in The Erwin Record. Our dog and I once spooked a bear on the AT. Our daughter Melanie saw another bear on one of the Rocky Fork State Park trails. The Pinnacle Mountain Fire Tower Trail is another nearby trail and it’s beautiful.
Wife Gail and I have walked many trails near Erwin, and there are many more trails that we have never seen.