>> December 18, 2007
Written by HeMan & DeTour - April 16, 2002
Well we have finally succumb to some bug that has left us nauseated, thus the reason for stopping today’s hike early and finding time to write this little note. We climbed 7 miles up and out of Watagua Lake to Vanderventer Shelter where we have set up our tent for the evening on a rock cliff overlooking the lake some 2,000 feet below. As we are writing to you the woodpeckers are pecking, the bugs are buzzing and the hawks are circling above. Spring has finally busted its bud as the trees are filling in the canopy and the forest floor changes from seas of dead brown leaves to brightly colored wildflowers. Everything in our little world is starting to come alive now that the days are growing longer and becoming warmer. I had said that we wanted to experience 4 seasons on the trail and by far the neatest thing we have seen is the awakening of the forest as it changes daily from winter to spring. Weeks ago the trees were nothing but giant poles of bark and twigs with no signs of life to be seen. Slowly they formed little buds that soon broke free exposing a new set of leaves. We have also been fortunate enough to experience a similar beginning of life in the various wildflowers we have been studying. We have purchased a wildflower book and have started identifying and studying each flower we see. The enjoyment that we have found lies in daily observation throughout the past 46 days of the entire growth cycle of both the trees and the flowers. Most people can only view the changing of seasons on a weekend outing or by watching a plant on the windowsill, so we have taken every opportunity of learning something new each day and we feel very fortunate in doing so.
It seems as though even the animals have finally shed their winter attire and are starting to show their lovely faces. Like for instance the 6 foot copperhead that Brad walked right by within a distance of 2 feet and made Tia freeze solid standing only 3 feet from the snake staring it right in the face. Needless to say, we were very fortunate that day. We have also encountered a king snake of similar size winding around a tree some 4 feet off the ground. We have seen 4 other snakes but were very small in size. Our most colorful find was a bright orange newt with red spots sitting perched on a rock alongside a stream. Mammals have been scarce in that we have only seen 1 deer and 1 rabbit. However, last night we awoke to a beaver slapping his tail on the water for a good 2 hours. Our favorite but yet least favorite bird was the whip-o-will that for the first 5 minutes at 5:30 am chirped a beautiful song, but for the last 45 minutes, well lets just say it is lucky to still be alive. It perched 5 ft from the shelter consistently singing thinking its echo was a beautiful female somewhere nearby. So, no bears yet but we are anxiously awaiting!
We can’t even begin to express how beautiful this spot we have found is. Below us lies Watagua Lake that due to a man-made disturbance winds its way through wooded valleys and gorges. To our right lies Roan Mountain, a 6,200-foot large rock covered with Red Spruce and the dying Frasier Furs. Roan Mountain was the last of our 6,000- foot climbs until we enter the Presidentials and climb the ever-dangerous Mount Washington in the Whites. Directly in front of us lay the ridges of Appalachian Beauty. The sun is setting behind us and we will most definitely set our clocks to witness yet another beautiful sunrise. Like this spot we have stopped on three other balds just for the views and sunsets.
We signed in the register at Amicalola Falls that we are out here to see what we can see and that is what we have stuck to. We are taking our time out here and enjoying the peaceful serenity of the mountains. We are out here to experience a journey full of white blazes where behind each white blaze lies something new and exciting. Around every corner is a new sight, a new thought and a new adventure. There are many people that are out here for a social outing. They hike as fast as they can just to get to the next town where they will take 3 or more days off. We had overheard of someone hiking 45 miles in one day just to get to Damascus! If that is possible I’m not sure, but why? The herd of thru-hikers is slowly thinning out so my question is this; What will these social hikers do when they suddenly happen upon a town or a shelter where there is no sign of a social gathering and they discover themselves all alone? Don’t get us wrong, we have found many new friends and we understand that everybody has the right to hike their own hike but, there is more to discover on a journey like this than a group of new friends and a pat on the back just for reaching Kathadin.
Picture 1: Max Patch, NC
Picture 2: A rare 4-leafed Purple Trillium. Tri is Latin for trio therefore all members of the species have three leaves, petals, cells etc...
Picture 3: Feral Ponies on Mt Rogers, VA
Picture 4: A tasty Morel mushroom, an expensive delicacy. We prefer it with a tad of butter and garlic!
Picture 6: Fiddle Head Ferns, another tasty treat!
Picture 7: Lucky Shot!