Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Finding the Appalachian Trail

(Did you know the pronunciation of the word Appalachian indicates, to the locals, whether you're a tourist or not?  I've always known the second 'a' in the word to be a long vowel sound, and the 'ch' to make the 'sh' sound.  Out here, that second 'a' takes on the short vowel sound and the 'ch' sounds like 'ch' (as in choke) - and those two little differences define you as a tourist.)

In any case, the girls and I ventured up the side of the mountain the other day in search of the Appalachian Trail.  It seemed like we were driving forever with no sign of the AT in sight, so we decided to pull off at one of the small overlooks.

This was our first stop.  A place called "Stone Fences", named for the way the huge rocks make fence-like structures - everywhere you turn.  After leaving this spot we ventured further and further until we thought we'd missed the AT completely (how does one miss the Appalachian Trail)?  We did find another parking area that looked promising so we went to explore.

But it wasn't the AT either.  By this time is was late, late afternoon and we still had to make a couple more stops on the way home, so time was of the essence.  The girls and I decided there was no better time than the present and surrendered to the opportunity in hiking up this trail; "Humpback Rocks".

The elevation changed quickly and so did the, once smooth, gravel path we began.  But we persevered since we had no idea what lay before us.  Curiosity killed the cat....

Elevation continued to climb with every step we took and as you can see - I mean that so very literally.  Still, we continued on - huffing and puffing.

Somewhere along the way the trail seemed to fizzle out.  Luckily in the area, they leave blaze marks on trees to indicate you're still on the path.  I thank God for whomever created those blue paint marks on the trees.

We hiked, and hiked, and hiked... until we thought we'd gone 100 miles.  Until this sign appeared.  Yep, we had hiked forever and this sign made it official!  Eight miles and each bead of sweat, each gasp of air, each quiver of our muscles made their boast in it too!

...and then we looked closer.  Do you see it?  The "." before the 8?  That's right, (point).8 miles.  All of the sudden our egos were deflated and we thought very loudly, each one of us "What?  They're crazy, that was more than .8 miles".  And I can assure you, it did indeed feel like much more than .8 miles.  But we made it to the top.  We had persevered...

...and when we reached the zenith of the hike, it was very much worth the bullets we sweated to get there!

Looking down at God's glorious creation from 3200 feet above sea level.  It smelled so good, so fresh.   And the breeze was phenomenal.  Exactly what we needed to recharge (after all we had to go back the way we had come).  The many people we ran into said it was easier on the way down, but I have to disagree - it was equally as difficult - in a different kind of way (kind of like a dry heat).

But along the way we saw all sorts of different interesting things. And at one point a (very tame) squirrel jumped from his perch right above us, to seize an acorn than had just fallen.  Scared the daylights out of us (we had just been discussing BigFoot).

We had a great (very long) day.  As you recall I told you we began this hike late afternoon.  Yes, well, it took us quite a while to finish, which made for a very late evening.  After our (late) dinner, final stops, and the drive home it was well after eleven, but we sure did sleep well that night!

(PS - we never did find the Appalachian Trail that day)

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