Thursday, July 8, 2010

I Could Get Used To This

MST – Day 23 - Highway 151 to Sleepy Gap – 10 Miles

Car shuttling continues to be the big challenge in our MST quest. Each day we have to factor in the time required for moving cars. Yesterday we left a car at the end of today’s hike and this morning Lenny drove us to our trailhead. Awaiting us was another beautiful day of walking in the mountains.

Road closure signs at the Highway 151 intersection indicate an interruption due to a rock slide near Ferrin Knob. Traffic was still allowed past here with the provision that there would be a turnaround at some point ahead. For “thru-drivers” the detour is quite lengthy (thus Lenny's kind taxi service would save us hours at the end of the day.)

Knee-high vegetation was on the menu again today. Grasshoppers entertained us by leaping ahead of our footsteps. They were very quick and I sensed movement out of the corner of my eye rather than seeing them en masse. They sounded like raindrops on the leaves. When we stopped, they stopped. Kinda creepy, but in a fun way…

Flower ID day – I counted at least 30 flowers and ignored a few others (yellow ones seem especially hard to identify). I have yet to get good macro photos with my camera. We were treated to a couple more pink ladyslippers. Giant Solomon’s seals seem to be my favorites, arching gracefully with perfectly formed buds dangling underneath. Turk’s cap lilies were budding every which way and will make a spectacular show in a few weeks.

Flame azalea

Goat's Beard

The MST crosses the parkway several times at overlooks. On this clear day we enjoyed a long snack break at Mills River Overlook. It was hard to leave the view and get back on the trail.

Mills River Valley Overlook


View from Stony Bald Overlook (duh)

View from Beaver Dam Gap

We walked the two-mile section that Lenny maintains. He had been hard at work and we graded him an A+, especially considering that he had to walk a few extra miles (while carrying a weed-eater) to get to his section because of the road closure. He and Danny also maintain a five-mile section of the AT.

Finally we encountered the “we-really- mean-it- now” road closure signs. No chance of seeing the rock slide area, though, because we were going over Ferrin Knob, not around it.

The steep pull up Ferrin Knob loomed ahead all morning but was over before I knew it. Concrete blocks remain from a former fire tower at the summit, as well obvious campfires.
With just 5.5 miles remaining to close our trail gap to Highway 191 in Asheville, Danny and I were regretting that we had to stop at Sleepy Gap where our car was parked. However, we had planned conserva- tively, not knowing what trail conditions we would find and working around the parkway closure. All in all, today’s trail was very good with only a handful of blowdowns that were easily crossed. And the mountain laurel is beginning to bloom.

Read Danny’s story of the day here.  

An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. ~Henry David Thoreau

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