Friday, August 10, 2007

Hike: Max Patch Summit

5/14/98--Max Patch Summit, 87.3 miles (from Fontana)

Cooked and ate supper at the creek, arriving at the summit with full belly and full water bottles. The timing couldn't have been more beautiful -- the sun was a prefect orange circle fading into blue-grey beyond and just above the mountains, which ringed us in all directions. Max Patch itself took my breath away -- the grassy foothills rolling up to it, dotted with shrubs, boulders, and patches of raspberry. I'd expected a variation on the "grassy bald" I'd seen at Cheoah, but this was a completely different kind of mountain. It seemed like an entire countryside -- decidedly American in its wildness, but reminded me of the rolling hills of the English Lake District.

Counting in the roadwalk from Mtn. Moma's this was another day over 17 -- again, my longest. I started off with a good yogi -- a banana and an apple from a woman who couldn't give us a lift because of the German Shepherd in the back of her car. Diva Dog loved being back on the Trail and I loved being out of the Smokies. The Trail has resumed its life as a footpath, not a muddy riverbed, with solid, duff-covered dirt under our feet.

Wildlife on the Trail today: 2 toads, one of the common American variety, one redderr and bumpier; fields of poison ivy; fields and fields of trillium; the first wild strawberries I've seen in fruit; lady's slipper orchids--stunning; a puddle full of tadpoles; white and variegated violets near Groundhog Creek Shelter. Former wildlife on the Trail: a very dead snake on the road from Mtn Moma's and a beautiful, huge spring-green butterfly that looked much more exotic than any of the others we've seen. Editor's note: this was a luna moth. Never alive, but wild enough: a conical, white, buzzing structure on top of Snowbird Mtn -- turned out to be an FAA homing device.

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