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TAKE A HIKE! - Issue #7

TAKE A HIKE! - Issue #7
By Elizabeth Sumner Wafler • Issue #7 • View online
Take a hike.
You’ll be amazed at how much you can learn about life. Last Saturday, my husband and I took an excursion to the Blue Ridge Parkway and into the George Washington National Forest for a hike alongside Crabtree Falls. At 1200 ft., the falls have earned the distinction of tallest discontinuous waterfalls in the east, a cascading trio of upper, middle, and lower.
The first time I hiked it, I made it only as far as the lower falls. But in better shape this time, and armed with a Hindenburg-sized water bottle, I was on my way to the top.
A gorgeous day, we set out along a flat, manicured trail. Me in the lead. “You set the pace,” hubby says, always looking out for me. Guess he figures if I fall flailing backward he has a better chance of catching me.    
Soon, the tidy trail turns to a jutted and wobbly natural cobblestone, before yielding to long stretches of oozy black mud. At intervals, signs the yellow of the wildflowers down below warn you that not only does slick algae blanket the black igneous boulders of the falls, but also provide a current death count (of the poor fools who decide a slip n slide beyond the rail would make a sensational selfie.)
It’s still fun and comfortably challenging at this point, hubby reaching for my hand as we encounter steeper switchbacks and rugged rock, before reaching railed man-made stairs that call to mind my final stint on a stair master. We’ve stopped a few times to rest, soak in the view and take pictures. Soon my Fitbit tells me we’ve been at it for an hour and a half. My legs are turning rubbery so we stop and sit on a bench next to a chatty Frenchman. Turning back to the trail, above and to my left is what has to be a double drop plunge of 200 ft. “We’re almost there,” I said triumphantly, “the upper falls!”
I was totally making it this time.
The roar of the falls drowns out hubby’s words. I climb a few yards higher before staring down a marker that reads .9 miles. I turn. “We’ve only come point nine miles?”
With brow knitted, I trudge ahead and navigate another bend before looking up again. “But that has to be the top,” I say, unable to see more water above. “Isn’t it like just a little farther up?
A dark-skinned young man with the gait of a gazelle is about to pass us on his way down. He pauses. "You’re only a little over halfway there,” and then almost in sync with my hubby, “because of all the switchbacks.
"We just got too late of a start, babe. Next time we need to come up with a plan, make a day of it. Start early, bring lunch and stop to eat and rest.”
Defeated by the ever-slanting sun, we regroup. And turn back.
 One day, I’m going to make it to stand on the observation deck above the upper falls. From there, through Crabtree meadows, it’s only a short hike to the Appalachian trail …
When I started my writing hike six years ago, I had no idea how long the trip to “the top” might be. I didn’t consider the mileage. An avid reader with a love of story, I only wanted to create my own. Making it to the top was landing a literary agent and being traditionally published. And I would do it with my second novel GEORGIE GIRL. But around the first bend came a stretch of jutted rock and oozy mud: agent rejection terrain.
In 2019 with my third book A CLEFT IN THE WORLD, I reeled in a big one.
As far as I could see, I’d made it!
But after a year—I was still climbing. I was only halfway there. My agent was unable to place the manuscript publishers considered “too quiet” for that year’s market. I stood my ground and wrote book number four TOPANGA CANYON. After six months, my agent hasn’t found a home for it. I stopped to rest and self-published GEORGIE GIRL through KDP. I took another switchback, this one up “promotion hill.” Along this journey, I found an alternative route to traditional publishing … hybrid publishing.
Now friends MY BIG NEWS …  A CLEFT IN THE WORLD has been acquired by She Writes Press, a renowned publisher run by women who publish only women writers. I’m so excited!
The book will not hit shelves until the spring of 2023.
Publishing moves at the pace of tectonic plate shifts. Those that make mountains. And waterfalls.
One day, I’ll arrive on the observation deck atop Crabtree Falls. I’ll look down and see how far I’ve come. Hopefully, I’ll have a traditionally published copy of TOPANGA CANYON in my backpack. And maybe even another book. Or two.

Did you enjoy this issue?
Elizabeth Sumner Wafler

Writer. Quotidian reader. Editor. Christian. Podcaster. Past Director of Craft Education for the Women's Fiction Writers Association. Repped by the @KnightAgency.

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