The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

October 10, 2012

Home to the Hills

Life in New River Gorge is ‘close to heaven as possible’

By Ricky Pack

— I can’t help myself. Yesterday, last night and very early this morning, living as nearly close to heaven as possible, is too large to ignore. I have to tell you about it.

Yesterday there was a chill in the air; the clouds were dark gray, marbled with lighter clouds with a light sprinkle of rain. Standing at the Hawks Nest State Park overlook, I felt that I was all that and much more.

Even though I have been to the overlook a million times, the view of the train trestle, the way the tracks wrap themselves like an endless boa constrictor for miles around the mountains, still gives me a mountain high and takes my breath way. There seems to be a change in my being, something that elevates me above mere mortals. I was stoned inhaling the blue mist that hugged me. Even a guy like me knows that all this was directed from the throne in heaven.

Ron and Paula Nelson, classmates from high school whom I haven’t seen since 1975 and who live in Minnesota, came to visit me. Where do these blessings end?

They geocache whenever they can. I know, I know, just what the heck is geocaching? Here is the definition:

Main Entry: geocache

Part of Speech: n

Definition: an item hidden in a specific location in geocaching

Example: We used a handheld GPS receiver unit to guide us to a geocache destination.

Usage: Also geocache (v.)

There was a treasure hidden at the park and we found it. Although thrilling, having them with me made it a lifelong memory, thank you Ron and Paula.

We headed down to Fayette Station. A trip that includes going down one mountain, under the largest bridge of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, on a winding one-lane road painted by the fallen autumn leaves, across the “The Bridge Over the River New” (OK, the New River; the movie “The Bridge Over the River Quai” just popped into my head; I am not sure how, being as it’s so crowded in there).

Then the trip took us up another mountain, under the other side of the New River Gorge Bridge ending up in Fayetteville. We stopped at the Sandwich Masters in Fayetteville. Folks, you have got to go there. They have the most incredible sandwiches, soups, homemade French fries and potato chips, brewed root beer, and waitresses.

The trip ended in Thurmond. They got a kick out of the single lane, wood-planked train trestle bridge. We enjoyed the waterfall, the bridge, the restored buildings, the early autumn scenery, and each other. That crusty old, thank God dead, Shakespeare spewed, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” What a load of manure! I can’t begin to tell you how many times in school and life that quip got me into trouble. Phooey, I say, you panty hose wearing, leaping lizard.

Watching them drive off was no “sweet sorrow.”

The evening brought an incredible service at the Gum Springs Baptist Church. Coming out of the church, darkness had already fallen. The air comforted me and the sounds of the mountains uplifted me. The mountain sprit was telling me everything was all right. I couldn’t believe that God has allowed me to live here.

This morning brought a new day, 62 degrees out. It felt much warmer than the numbers on the thermometer dictated. The insects greeted me with a morning chorus of mountain music and the creek sent up the smoothing scent of spring water.

My world was all right, all things in their place, no confusion, no worries. I live here, so therefore I am!

(Pack may be contacted at Letters to the editor regarding his column may be e-mailed to