Blue Mountain Woman

Color photograph looking up along a mountain range whose far end gradually disappears in the haze below an overcast sky. Some deciduous trees and conifers are prominent in the middle ground. Lush overgrowth in the foreground indicates a disturbed, not recently managed roadside area.
Blue Ridge – Photograph copyright © 2015 Mignon Naegeli

One day, when we where traveling the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina we had a reservation in a high country campground. The gate house was closed, as is quite common since the National Park Service’s budgets cannot keep up with the maintenance backlog, despite more and more people flocking to the serenity of our remaining treasures of the land.

As the Wolfman drove us through the designated campground circle, we passed one of the “walk up” campsites that are available to first-come, first-serve patrons. To our joy it was unoccupied. This spot we had occupied many times before: a smallish space with a view of a nearby mountain, blooming Rhododendron bushes, and large trees. Well below its parking space is a picnic table and a fire ring we never use because the female is allergic to smoke, despite having inhaled tobacco for centuries during her active artistic years.

My Wolfman pulled our beloved small vehicle easily into the narrow space, grabbed our reservation slip several sites ahead, put my—now awfully large—sister on her leash, and off they went to the gate to notify the ranger of the change.

In the mean time, my curious Female, observing our surroundings, detected a golden colored car parked in one of the large drive through sites on the opposite side of the road. Those usually are occupied by large motor coaches with cars or boats in tow. From that site a crude, steep stairway leads to its picnic area, deep in the hilly woods. First, we thought that the vehicle was reserving the space for a large RV or some other humongous vehicle. As time went by, the female detected a green sheet, like a Buddhist’s meditation rug, hanging in the trees and sounds of a single person rummaging in the woods around it. After awhile an elderly, somewhat chubby blond balanced down the rutted steps, carrying what looked like a green bath towel rather than a religious relict.

After sitting for a while in the—as it turned out—late model Honda Accord, the woman drove off, to return an hour later, occupying this time the spot next to us, but not before checking who was her camping neighbor.
When we went on our evening walk, the woman was eager to talk to us. She first approached me, the shy Basquiat. She scared the heck out of me! My Female mentioned to the woman that I was not very social, abused as a puppy, and prefer to be alone or with my family.

The odd looking creature with expensive black rimmed glasses started bubbling stories how she lives in the mountains of Georgia, added some pet stories, telling us, that she lives in her car. Seeing piles of pillows and blankets, it made sense. The Female, intrigued and also a little cautious of the strange woman, refrained from taking pictures; something she seldom does! She told me in confidence, that the person might pretend to be years younger than she looks …

The most intriguing fact was, that she didn’t sound anything hillbilly, especially one who lives in the Georgia mountains. Her language was polished, sounded educated, and there was no shrillness, just calm, like an investigative writer or a well to do eccentric—A female Jack Reacher?

Later that evening, she approached our RV. Wolfman met her outside where a soft, melodious, rasp voice showered him with strange mountain stories. He received a small flier, which had some sophisticated handwriting on its margin. It originated from a town below the mountains, about a sort of musical event Brevard offers during the summer season. The Female hid it, to be photographed later. However, my Wolfman must have discarded it when we left. Too bad, now there is no picture whatsoever of the strange occurrence.

The next day, she was gone. The Wolfman inquired at the ranger station. It turned out that she has been a regular at area parks for some time. Not the only one appearing homeless, they said.

We stayed a few more days, enjoying the calmness and cool air; walked around the beautiful landscape without any problem, except for the Female’s heavy breathing when the path would lead us uphill in the thin mountain air.

Detail color photograph of a black dog's eyes and snout in right profile view close to the chin of a blonde woman's head in oblique frontal-left view. The dog has a white-tipped muzzle and a white spot over the eye. The dog's hazelnut eye color is just a bit darker than the woman's.
Alter egos – Photograph copyright © 2015 Mignon Naegeli

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