Thursday, April 22, 2010

Early Finish

MST – Day 17 - 4/8/10 – Scotts Creek Overlook to Balsam Gap – 5.5 Miles

(Photos today are by Danny Bernstein.)

Rain in today’s forecast. Our best case scenario was to complete this section and then skip ahead to do a couple of miles tagging up with 191 in Asheville where we had already hiked in December. All bets were off if we got drenched on this first leg.

We parked at the Balsam Gap maintenance center again (our end point today) and drove to Scotts Creek Overlook on the Parkway. Across from the pull-off we stepped onto the newest completed trail work, wide, easy strolling. The CMC trail builders have paid much attention to the details of step work and stone work. Blue flagging tape was still hanging around so we did our small bit of cleanup as we walked along. The trail is a gentle downgrade, not much climbing.

Fantastic bridge over Woodfin Creek

Another view

Yet another interesting blowdown on the middle of the trail

After about two miles we emerged from the woods onto Greenspire Drive (according to Scot Ward’s book). I wasn’t quite expecting that. We followed this gravel road down the mountain, passing nice vacation homes tucked into the trees, catching glimpses of palatial homes on the mountainside. Everyone who owns such a home loves it, but everyone else who sees one doesn’t like it spoiling their view.

The predicted rain finally came, first as a sprinkle but then with a vengeance. We tossed on rain jackets and pack covers, yet were cold and wet very quickly. I had left my waterproof gloves in the car (I am a slow learner sometimes) and I put my hiking poles under my arm and thrust my hands deep into my pockets. After a few minutes of this we stopped to add rain pants to the ensemble, put our heads down and kept moving.

The gravel road came out at the BRP and followed it for a short while before the trail slipped back into the woods. Now we were sandwiched between the BRP and a secondary road and felt quite hidden from all traffic in there. The trail meandered and added some distance, but we finally came back to the BRP and crossed the bridge over 74/23 and into the maintenance parking area.

The deluge had slowed, but I was soaked and mentally checked out – no question about skipping the other section we had contemplated. On the way back up to Scotts Creek Overlook to retrieve the second car, we stopped at the Lyn Lowry Overlook to see the Woodfin Cascade, something I had never taken the time to check out before. (The thin white ribbon in the middle left of the photo does not convey how powerful this cascade looks in real life.) Wispy strands of moisture floated between the peaks.

From there I made my way home. I had two nights and one day to unpack, do laundry, buy a camera, and turn things around before heading back out for the weekend. More MST on the agenda!

Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain. ~Author Unknown

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