Part of the trail at Roan Mountain
It was a long and windy trail…a reaaaallly long and windy trail. In fact, for those with the gumption to do it, the Appalachian Trail is an impressive 2,179 miles (3,507 km) long and follows the rim of the Appalachian mountains from Georgia to Maine. More than just a day-stroll, it usually takes an average of 6 months to through-hike. It’s one of the “great three” walks in the US, the other two being the Pacific Crest Trail (spanning 2,650 miles (4,260 km) from Mexico to Canada over the Western Sierra Nevada Mountains), and the Continental Divide Trail (covering 3,100 miles (5,000 km) along the Rockies). The people who do all three call it the “Triple Crown” and can claim my life-long worship of their hardiness.
Relaxing at Bald Mound on the Appalachian in TN
It always been one of my dreams to hike one of these greats. In fact, for many years I researched the Pacific Crest Trail with the idea that I would take off work for a year to go do it. Then I met Paul, we got the cats, took off to Asia and fate pulled me on a different path. I love my life, but the trails are still on my mind so getting the chance to hike them, even for just a moment, is a very exciting experience indeed. In the Smokies the Appalachian is easily accessible and we got a taste of it’s greatness on Roan Mountain in TN.
Mountain valley curves
So there we went…A sunny fall afternoon, the chill of the mountains bursting in our lungs and the wild wind of the ridges rushing to meet its destiny on the horizon. We hiked to the first bald at ~6,200 feet and sat in awe of the view. Amidst the rolling hills, the deep blue of the Smokies and a whole lotta nature, I can totally see how people get addicted to it.
Maybe one day I’ll come back and do the whole thing.
Desolate nature at its most beautiful
Posted in General Musings & Travel Tales, TN
Tagged Appalachian, Appalachian Mountains, Appalachian Trail, AT, Continental Divide Trail, mountains, Pacific Crest Trail, Roan Mountain, Round Bald, Tennessee, TN
“There is nothing ugly; I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may, light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful.”
"False" chanterelles...pretty but not for eating
Shrooms can bring to mind a wide variety of thoughts from exclusive tastings of musky and odorous tuber melanosporum (French truffle) to psychedelic experiences of the fungal kind . As a politician might say, while I may or may not have participated in the latter activities in my youth, this story is more about finding the hidden beauty in small things.
As a photographer I always love the changing form of light and how it can alter a landscape. On bright days I seek the big views, on heavy evenings the sunset and on misty mornings I look to the small things. It often amazes me how the mere dimming of light can bring an almost luminous glow to everything underfoot. And so it was, one thick morning with the moisture of dawn baking off from a TN stream I suddenly found myself surrounded by mushrooms. The perfect combo of a week of rain followed by sun had coaxed these elusive fungi from the earth and created a bloom of beauty right at our footsteps.
Just the right light for a luminous glow
It’s enough to make your average mushroom hunter wild with excitement, and quite an event it is. Mushrooms are actually the fruit of hidden fungal organisms and it takes just the right conditions to get them blooming. Amateur mycologists avidly seek the most elusive and tasty varieties keeping their locations a closely guarded secret. It’s a historic and noble pursuit, needing an experienced eye to distinguish the poisonous ones from the others. As a child I used to hunt in the Danish forest for shrooms and always had a good nose for the sport. I’m no longer an expert, but I still enjoy the wild and fanciful curves and colors of the many types. As they say, it’s very groovy, baby and I don’t need no psychotropics to see the beauty in that view.
Possibly a tasty treat...possibly not
Layers and light
Blooms on decaying bark