Sunday, December 30, 2018

Rocky Top

On December 18,2018 I did my longest hike to date, accompanied by my daughter Marissa. 20 miles with 4,587 feet of elevation gain. We started near sunrise at 7:30am and headed up the Lead Cove Trail, which intersected with Bote Mountain. We continued upward to the Appalachian Trail at Spence Field and took a break at the same spot where we experienced the solar eclipse of August 2017.

The section from Spence Field to Rocky Top is a tough hike. It starts up, and then goes back down, then up again. It’s only about a mile, but I found it to be the toughest part of the day. The scenery was fantastic from the top, so it was worth the effort.

We continued on to Thunderhead Mountain before turning around and heading along the AT. The section from Thunderhead to Russell Field shelter is a pleasant stroll, although there is the uphill section after Rocky Top.

 A few patches of leftover snow covered shaded grassy areas, but nothing was on the trail form the previous week's 18" snowfall. 

We hiked a short distance past the Russell Field Trail intersection, but turned back since this was within a day or two of the shortest day of the year. The afternoon was fading and we had a ways yet to go.

We made it to the car after 7pm at the Lead Cove trailhead, so it was dark at this point. A long day but full of memorable scenery and time well spent with my daughter. Making memories in the Smokies-

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Mosaic of Life

On the first morning of my annual pilgrimage into the Smoky Mountains for a mental reset and some great hiking, I was greeted with the scene below.

A gentle breeze took away any coverings of an inspiring morning.  Morning’s light, full of hope and new beginnings, faded in and out from behind a thin sheer of clouds off to my right, above a high ridge line. After a while the sun lit up the side of my face and felt like a warm cloth. The trees were bare, leaving a mosaic of the winding road below, and the hills beyond.
The road below; it was there before me and will likely be there long after I am gone. Beauty is carved out through time, following natural terrain. Nature’s flow. A beautiful life should follow that pattern with the natural mountains and valleys (our belief systems) carving out a boundary for when we step out too far. But not too rigid. It’s okay to have the hairpin turns to slow us down from imminent disaster, and we can go around a mountain when it serves no purpose to climb it.
The view can be spectacular along this twisted journey, but we can’t see too far ahead with the upcoming turn. Be spontaneous, enjoy your road trip, stop along the way, and soak in a good dose of life.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Year End Hike in the Smokies

Did a 9 miler today in the Smokies to close out 2017. Hiked just over 600 miles this year, which is a nice improvement after the back issues I had.

Temps never left the twenties today
Chestnut Top Trail
.Had an unexpected snowfall late this afternoon into tonight, with the temp at 23 degrees, and the road is completely white. Looks like tomorrow morning will be a good one to stay in and read a good book.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Trillium Gap Trail to Mt. LeConte

Marissa and I hiked the Trillium Gap Trail (from the Grotto Falls trailhead) to LeConte yesterday, with a side trip to Brushy Mountain on the way back down. 14 miles, 3,448 feet of elevation. Nice weather, just a few sprinkles on the way down at dusk, but otherwise clear all day. I didn't check the temp at the LeConte Lodge, but the forecast showed temps in the 30's all day at the top.

Trail conditions were good, but some of the water crossings were more work than normal after the heavy rains the day before. We talked to a couple of hikers that were headed down from an overnight stay at the lodge. They had hiked up the previous day in the deluge and had nothing dry on when the reached the top.

The vistas, flora, rock formations, waterfalls, and beauty of the trails as they hug the side of the mountain are worth the hike up. The llama pack goes up Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays on the Trillium Gap Trail with supplies. 

This was our first hike to LeConte since 2014 due to my back issues. Our last two hikes this year have been 14+ milers so the back is getting stronger.

Colors were not spectacular but we did hit a sweet spot during the elevation climb with some yellows. We started late at 9:20 and got back to the car at 7 after spending some time up top.
Pictures taken with a point and shoot so they are not the best, but you get an idea of the scenery.
Near Grotto Falls

Boot prints. Looks like a message was left behind

Walking behind Grotto Falls

From behind Grotto Falls

At the LeConte Lodge

View from the back porch of the LeConte Lodge dining area

View from Brushy Mountain Trail

View from Brushy Mountain Trail

View from Brushy Mountain Trail

2017 LeConte shirt

Just below the top, on our way up

Monday, October 23, 2017

Surreal World

A surreal world, simplicity at first glance, even keel, but marvelously complex when you look closely. You have to look away from the wide angle view and zero in to the intricacies that make up the big picture.

Each raindrop fans out and ripples until it is no more. Sometimes it crosses paths with another and changes, like people do along their journey. This pattern is continuous, even as nighttime descends and no one is there to watch. Decades of habits leave deep scars that can't be locked away forever, unless they're of the heart.

The rain settles down and the magic comes to an end. For now.