So, I got the pics for the AT trip a few weeks ago together and uploaded. You can find a link to the album, as well links to each of the previous years albums here. Still need to add captions but its progress. Don’t expect “Ansel Adams” quality photos. I really noticed this year how bad the Essential Tremor is affecting my ability to get much of anything in focus. It’s especially bad when trying to get close-ups of flowers and such. Deep Woods was gracious enough to stop often and get shots for me when my battery died after day three (I left the spare battery sitting on the dash of the car) but I need to come up with some method of taking a decent picture without having to setup a tripod and using the timer every time I see something. We’ll never make it to Maine if it comes to that! At our current pace, that’s unlikely to happen anyway.
I’ll spare you the play by play of this year’s trip. Let’s just say we had a great time once again. We could have been in better shape…a few pounds lighter at least…and there were some tough sections but there was also a lot of nice, smooth, reasonably rock and root-free trail for much of the way. We were often telling one another how much we liked hiking this section. Each day was unseasonably warm, especially the first two, when temps got well over 80 deg. Day one was the climb out of Allen Gap, Rich Mountain lookout tower (limited views) and a pretty pond past Tanyard Gap.
On day two the trail took us past Lover’s Leap which offered an awesome view of the French Broad River and the town of Hot Springs, NC below. We proceeded down out of the mountains, across the French Broad River into Hot Springs, NC and enjoyed a big breakfast at the Smoky Mountain Diner before resuming our trek south. Along the way we ran into the first of quite a few Pink Lady Slippers and some white dwarf Iris, a first for me.
Day three brought rain but it was light and, with the warm temps, we skipped the rain gear for the better part of it. The Trillium were abundant throughout this section, especially around Roaring Fork, our stopping point for the day.
The highlights for day four were spectacular blue skies for the amazing views on Max Patch and catching an equally spectacular sunset from Snowbird Mountain. Crazy winds convinced us to forego camping on either summit but it all worked out in the end.
And day five found us back at the car at Standing Bear Farm hostel and heading to the hotel to prepare for the second part of the journey which, as I mentioned in a previous post, was scrubbed due to high winds and access to the trail being closed in the park.
That adds up to only 47.9 trail miles for this go-around. Too bad we couldn’t have gotten more in but we’re fortunate to be able to do this at all, so I’ll take it. One thing we did do differently this year, and will continue to do from here on out, was dialing back the number of planned miles for each day. We shot for roughly 10 miles each day but on most days decided to do a bit more. The lower planned miles seemed to put us in a different mind-set. We found we enjoyed ourselves more at a slower pace but still had sufficient time to tack on a mile or two more if the next day looked like it would be more challenging. The flexibility was great.
That about wraps it up for now. Loonie and I will try to squeeze in a weekend trip or two over the next couple of months. Nothing major again until September when we plan to do several days on the Ozark Trail. And October will be five days or so on the AT in Shenandoah National Park. Can’t wait!
More to come…