Long before the creation of the Appalachian Trail which was opened in 1937, elk and bison and even Native Americans had a long established network of paths throughout Appalachia. History books teach us that Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton, Dr. Thomas Walker and others blazed trails through the wilderness.
While it is true that they lead the way they did not have to do much blazing. They simply used well-worn paths that had existed for thousands if not tens of thousands of years. I make this point so you understand how the rest of my story is not as far-fetched as it might seem to be.
Fall had come to Puncheon Creek. Nature had painted her canvas with the stroke of the Master’s brush leaving the hills draped in hues of red, golden yellows, greens and browns. A gentle refreshing breeze played quietly amongst the fallen leaves adding a surreal touch of pleasure to an idyllic afternoon. Perhaps the near perfection of this day more than a century ago is what caused my ancestor to be out in the woods that day but as a fact I cannot say.
As my forefather reached the low gap near the headwaters of Puncheon Creek’s Merdy Fork he came upon a most unexpected sight. Sitting on a downed tree were two elderly women wearing strange looking cloths. I can well imagine that he was even more surprised by what they told him about themselves. No doubt they shared their names with him but this information never reached me. Even as their names are lost to time their day on Puncheon Creek somewhat remains. All I can remember being told about this day, while not much, is almost beyond belief. One woman claimed to be 105 years old adding she was the mother of the other woman. The daughter claimed to have reached her 90th year meaning her mother was 15 when she was born. In further conversation they revealed they were from Pennsylvania and that they had spent the summer walking from there and they were hoping to reach Georgia before winter.
Whether or not they ever reached Georgia I do not know. At any rate I believe it is safe to say that they were trail blazers in their own right. I also trust they enjoyed a day on Puncheon Creek.