meds, a crane, and a hike

A 125,000 lb. crane went off the road a few miles above my house a few days ago. They finally got it out today.

They had to bring in several larger cranes to get it out. I watched them take the pieces away this morning; the trucks carrying the various sections came past my house while I was out on the porch. The cab was beaten up pretty badly. The driver was hospitalized.

Yesterday I finally got a refill on my antidepressant. That's good. Ten minutes down the road from the doctor's office I got a phone call from the pharmacy; my prescription was already ready! I took the next left and headed for Rite-Aid in Canton. If I had gone with the Wal-Mart pharmacy, it wouldn't have been ready until tomorrow.

So, yeah, the crane. Some fool at the North Carolina Department of Transportation issued a permit for a great honking crane to travel Route 276 between Brevard and Waynesville, NC, a road with grade warning signs at both ends warning truckers of 15% grades and 5,000 foot elevations for something like the next 20 miles. The road twists and turns tightly; the place where the crane went off the side, coming downhill, is a section marked with a squiggly line and a recommended speed of 15 MPH for a 4-mile stretch.

I shift my Hyundai down into 2nd gear when descending that mountain and still need to use the brakes often. I can't imagine trying to navigate that stretch with a big crane.

The road was closed for two days. On Tuesday, Rocko and I took a hike up the Shining Creek trail, all the way to the top (2,200 feet in 3.6 miles), and the trailhead is right where they closed the road. As I was getting my gear together in the parking area, I saw a fellow wearing a shirt and tie talking to the highway department guy who was guarding the road. "I have to be in Brevard in half an hour," he said. "No way that's happening," I said to myself. From the point where the road was closed, it is a good 20 minutes back to the next junction if you drive the speed limit. And then it's another 30 to 40 more to Brevard, up and down another twisting road over the Blue Ridge.

That feller should have paid attention to the sign 11 miles back that said, "ROAD CLOSED 11 MILES AHEAD ... FIND ALTERNATE ROUTE". On the other hand, that sign should have been back at the last intersection instead of an eighth of a mile further down the road, over a hill and around a bend, where it can't be seen from the last available alternate route.

Here's a couple of pictures of Rocko enjoying Shining Creek. It took us 4 hours to get to the top and 2 hours 40 minutes to descend. I wasn't planning such a strenuous outing, but after a certain point you start to say, "it can't be all that much farther," and of course it is.

Rocko was really digging the scene, man. This is a half-hour in from the trailhead.

A little over two hours in. We don't know it yet, but we are only halfway there.
Another 1,000 feet or so to climb.
A nice shady campsite awaits at the top, right after you cross the Art Loeb trail.
Four hours in from the trailhead,

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