Thursday, April 29, 2010

Walking Through The Creation

Another early start for another day on the trail.  Today, I was overwhelmed with the beauty of nature.

I dropped Gene off at Blue Ridge Parkway mile 71 at Petites Gap then drove another 7 miles to the trail where I started yesterday.  I walked north today while Gene walked south.  He saw nearly 30 other hikes while I only saw 5.  Everybody I thought I would see from yesterday had already passed my starting point before I got there.  Since they were ahead of me, I never saw them.

We each had a big climb at the beginning of our hikes.  Mine was up Apple Orchard Mountain.  There is no apple orchard there and apparently never has been.  Historians speculate it got its name because of the gnarled red oaks near the top.  These old distressed trees give the appearance of old orchard trees.  The summit is mostly an open bald with fantastic views to Arnold Valley below.  Somewhat of an eyesore in this otherwise pristine natural environment is a large white sphere which was originally an Air Force radar station between 1954 and 1975.  It’s still open.  There were trucks there when I went by, but I don’t know who owns it nor what purpose it serves today.

There are many features up and down the trail which get names attached to them and are then included in the hiking guidebooks.  We came to one such feature today.  Just below the summit of Apple Orchard Mountain is the Guillotine--a suspended rock between two boulders.

I stopped for a break at Thunder Hill Shelter and signed the shelter register.  Registers are at all shelters along the AT as well as at several other locations.  These registers, usually a spiral notebook, are a primary means of communications along the trail.  Hikers passing by or staying the night will usually sign in and leave a short message.  By reading the registers, the hikers know any important trail information, weather reports, and all the gossip among other hikers.  Who needs a telephone or email when there are shelter registers.

Not five minutes after my break at the shelter I met Gene.  We sat on a log by the trail for our lunch today and swapped stories of our hikes to that point.

View from Thunder Ridge Overlook

The beauty of the creation was all about me today.   Apple Orchard Mountain was pretty special, but it couldn’t compare to the huge patches of trillium I walked through after lunch.  It was breathtaking.

That’s it for today.  Tomorrow will be a zero mile day.  Gotta stay home sometime and get the work done around here.

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