John and Martin's Misadventure,  by Bill Alexander

the following narrarative is produced entirely by High Speed Alexander, no relation to Lamar (I hope)

My alternate version here

Seeing the weather report and wanting to add some new miles in the Abrams Creek area, John's suggestion to go to CS #2 sounded like a good plan. After dinner Friday, Sarah and I found the trailhead at Top of the World and descended the mountain on Gold Mine Trail to Cane Creek Trail where we located John, Kat and President Dave by the fire under a full moon. It was good to see friends in camp! Later that night a ghostly figure resembling Martin appeared in the moonlight. Initially shocked, we were relieved to find that it really was Martin with a backpack, something you don't see very often! Having a nice fireside chat as temps dropped into the 30's, we planned to do some day hiking the next day. Saturday morning we ate breakfast and started our walk, heading out Cooper Road Trail toward Cades Cove.

Here Dave gives John some advise on how to find civilization if you get lost while day hiking. Martin packs his backpack "just in case". John tries to keep his eyes open after a bad dream and little sleep the night before.

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With John now awake we headed off for a "three hour hike, a three hour hike". The weather was great but things got a little rough for the Quillen Faction later that day. Dave stayed behind to do some short hikes, watch over camp and think about his trip next weekend to complete all 900 miles of the park. I know we are all looking forward to attending that event in recognition of our President Dave's accomplishment! According to our Sergeant At Arms, all Highlanders should schedule accordingly. Any absence excuses should be addressed with Jerky Mike behind the Brewery.

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After about 2.4 miles, John and Martin decided to go north on Beard Cane Trail for a seemingly simple up-and-back hike to CS #3. Kat wisely made the decision to go with Sarah and me on Hatcher Mountain Trail for a Little Bottoms loop past CS #17. Martin is prepared for another trip of a lifetime!

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The girls and I enjoyed the scenic trail down to Abrams Creek on a clear Fall day with nice views and abundant color. Ironically, at one point I did face mutiny from my all female crew who decided we might be on the wrong trail. After some Highspeed talking and Highlander wisdom (water flows down hill), I was able to convince them we were going in the right direction. Did I mention how good the view was?

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Not long afterward we walked down the rocky mountain side to Abrams Creek and CS #17 where we had lunch by the creek. On the loop back we encountered Jerky Mike and Jack who had started at the Abrams Creek Ranger Station. They were moving at a slow, steady pace and appeared to be carrying heavy packs full of liquids. While it was good to see those guys, my original group was considerably more attractive so I continued following them back to camp.

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After Jerky Mike and Jack set-up we all ate dinner and had a good time by the fire. A couple of hours later, Kat noticed that John and Martin were still unaccounted for. Knowing that they should have been back around dark and understanding John's navigational skills, we were all concerned. President Dave determined that, if they didn't show up soon, we should call the Park Service and report them missing. Jerky Mike suggested that we hurry and call Channel 10 (Kevin) in order to make the 11 o'clock news. But, before we could call Channel 10, Kat was able to reach Martin by phone only to find that they reportedly had tried to take a short-cut through Blackberry Farms in an attempt to reach Cane Creek Trail and return to CS #2 without backtracking. The only problem was that there is apparently no connection as indicated on Ruby Tuesday's map of Blackberry Farms they had found earlier. So, at about 9 PM with temps falling, John and Martin were somewhere along the Park Boundary about 8 to 10 miles from camp. Below is a sign not unlike the one they saw as they left the park.

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Kat was informed by John that they might not make it back that night and might try to stay with others at CS #3. At first we thought they were kidding but when Kat hung-up, we realized that it was true...they were LOST!!! Well, while not exactly lost, the situation was not ideal and we were all still a little worried.

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Sarah entertains Kat to keep her mind off John's plight.

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Earlier we had given Martin a hard time for carrying his backpack on a day hike but now we were glad they had what little gear they did. That's when we were reminded that Martin had followed John before! At least now we knew they were generally OK and our concerns subsided somewhat. So, since there was not much else we could do, we continued with the night's festivities. In addition to much speculation about things like man hugs, we toasted the missing Highlanders and took a "Missing Man Formation" group picture.

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Approximately 12:45 AM we were approached by two tired and thirsty hikers who seemed very glad to see us. It was John and Martin! After about 22 miles, much of which was done in the dark with little light, they had survived!  We were glad to see them and offered food and beverages, the latter of which they consumed without reservation. Happy they were back and after giving them limited grief, we soon retired for the night. The next morning some Highlanders were in worse condition than others but everyone was glad to be there. Sarah and I did a short walk to an old cemetery and then headed back to the car looking forward to Pizza.

Note the inscription at the bottom of the tombstone.

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Beyond the cemetery at the Park Line, Sarah and I looked for the trail John and Martin had searched for the evening before. We didn't see it either and were told by some local horse folks that there is no connection, at least not a trail. Oh was like a Highlander to try and despite John and Martin's misadventure, we had a good time at CS #2! Why? Cause we liked it!

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For copies of John's new releases, the "Manway Diet Plan" and "More Bright Ideas - A Guide to Finding New Trails At Night", contact him via the website using the keyword "Short-Cut Quillen".

Great job on the trip report Bill.  You are hired   John