About The Blue Ridge Trail Dude
Hello, I am Rodney Bryant. I label myself The Blue Ridge Trail Dude. It is The blue Ridge Trail Dude because The Hiking Guy, The Hike Guy, and The Hiking Dude and many more combinations of Dude, Guy, Hike, and Trail were already taken by similar guys and dudes like me. Showing up a little late for the blogging business narrowed my choices for names. Let me bore you with a few myriad details about myself and why I want to start a blog about hiking, backpacking, trails, waterfalls, and The Blue Ridge Mountains.
What hole did the BRTD crawl out of?
Well, if you do not know, I am sure there is a sex education class available near you. Maybe I should not have used that cliché. I was born in West Greenville, SC., raised in the Westville and City View communities, and now live in a pleasant neighborhood in Taylors, SC. If you know nothing of Greenville, SC, area, most of these places are less than desirable. Except, maybe West Greenville, which is trying to be the Greenwich Village of my hometown. It has seen a revitalization I never thought possible. Taylors, SC, is about seven steps up from City View, SC. I worked hard to live a little better than I did as a kid.
The thing about it is that I never knew I was poor until I went to school, and they taught me all about economics. It eventually dawned on me I lived near the bottom of the economic hierarchy.
Boy Scouts, Camp Old Indian and trout out of the Chattooga River
My single mother worked three jobs at a time to keep us just above the bottom and my grandmother. We did what was necessary to survive; I suppose. between my grandmother and mother, they kept me in decent clothes and forced me through the school system.
The most impressive thing they ever did for me was to sacrifice a few dollars and allow me the pleasure of joining the Boy Scouts. I realize now it was a sacrifice for them to pay for me to join the Scouts, and I appreciate all that they did for me as I grew up. Looking back at those times in the Scouts, they were some of the best memories from my childhood. I loved sleeping in tents and three-sided cabins. I loved singing and eating around the campfires, and trout fishing.
Being in the Scouts introduced me to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Outdoors. I enjoyed my summers at Camp Old Indian (still there, and I hike in that area when I get a chance). We also spent wintertime fishing along the Chattooga River near Burrell’s Ford. We would load up the hooks with canned corn and haul in more trout than we could eat in 3 winters, much less a weekend.
Why don’t you go to college? But first, the military and Article 15’s
I’m not going into the details about this next part. I could write a book on it. My oldest son died in a terrible car wreck in 2010. Life’s distractions stopped distracting. I had lost pretty much everything that I had monetarily accumulated in this life because of the Great Recession. None of that mattered after losing my son. Focusing on my other children helped get me through this time, but it wasn’t enough.
I was dying inside, and I returned to drinking heavily. One of my older brothers killed himself (I can write a book on suffering, I promise), and my other older brother boozed and drugged himself to death in the aftermath. They were close, and it seemed one couldn’t live without the other.
Fell in love with hiking and backpacking and then marriage and family
After the military and being disillusioned with the Journalism Major in college, I lived in the mountains and on the trails of South Carolina. Hiking and sleeping out under the stars was my passion. Camping under the stars without a tent brought pleasure. I bought an Outdoor Products daypack (still own it and use it occasionally). I spent many days in the area around Jones Gap State Park.
Marriage and my oldest son came along, and I spent more time working than anything else, trying to give him what I didn’t have as a child. His mother and I divorced, and I remarried and had two more beautiful children and two stepchildren that I consider my own.
During this time, I worked three jobs at a time like my mother. It was almost impossible to find time for the trails and hiking.
Lost my passion to be the Blue Ridge Trail Dude
I love my kids. Somehow, I kept getting divorced, though. The Great Recession played a part in the last divorce, along with me being a brilliant father and a shitty husband. (learned to be a better person now, though). I lost my job in middle management and couldn’t find another similar job without a college degree. Fourteen years’ experience counted for nothing without a degree, and there was a recession.
I lost everything, including my passion for hiking and backpacking.
And then tragedy upon tragedy
I’m not going into the details about this next part. It would take writing a book. My oldest son died in a terrible car wreck in 2010. Life’s distractions stopped distracting. I had lost pretty much everything that I had monetarily accumulated in this life because of the Great Recession. None of that mattered after losing my son. Focusing on my other children helped get me through this time, but it wasn’t enough.
I was dying inside, and I returned to drinking heavily. One of my older brothers had killed himself in the early nineties (I can write a book on suffering), and my other older brother boozed and drugged himself to death a few years later. They were close, and it seemed one couldn’t live without the other.
Just wanting to die
Looking back, I think I was doing the same thing as my brother. One day, a drive up Jones Gap State Park seemed in order. I wanted to getaway. Life’s burdens were more than I could bear. I didn’t have a backpack, water, or food. Coming back home wasn’t on the agenda. I went up to Rainbow Falls. It was the best place that I could imagine dying.
I was in terrible shape: overweight, high blood sugar, pre- everything. The hike itself should have killed me. I sat for a few hours, reflecting on everything that had gone wrong in my life. I needed to die of an accident so that the life insurance could help my kids. People are always falling from the top of waterfalls. It happens all the time. Splat and life insurance help my kids.
I was too damned tired and hurting, so I just sat and listened to the water as it splashed onto the rocks. The sound soothed me. I could hear tree frogs, birds and insects singing their life’s song. I cried and screamed and beat the rocks with my fists. Telling myself I was useless, I tried to convince myself that I deserved to die. Failure plagued me my entire life. Laying down on a boulder, half in and out of the water, thoughts of my kids kept flashing through my mind. This pulled me out of the suicide funk.
Regaining the spirit of the Blue Ridgde Trail Dude
After a couple of hours of self-pity, I took my sore muscles back down the trail. The views as you hike down the cliff side are magnificent. I kept stopping and looking and realized that living wasn’t about working and trying to chase the dollar. Success wasn’t based on the dollar. Life continues without societies. Living continues without trying to earn a wage.
Life is out in nature. By the time I limped my aching muscles back down the mountain and into the parking lot, a new perspective on life dominated my mind. My muscles were tired and cramping, yet I was bursting with energy. Somehow I felt better. I don’t know what brought me out of the depression that gripped me, but it happened in nature. The hike to Rainbow Falls turned me around. It brought me back to life. I became the Blue Ridge Tral Dude once again. Where the trail leads, I follow.
Summing it up
This biography doesn’t cover my entire life. I lost my way near the middle of my life, like many people do. We all struggle at different times in life. This covers some of my struggle. Hitting the mountains of the blue ridge keeps my sanity in check. I love hiking these hills. I hope you enjoyed this brief story of my life. Please leave a comment below. Thanks for listening.