Saturday, February 4, 2017
Last weekend's adventure found me in the Great Smoky National Park exploring some new to me trails. With so many options in the region I have a hard time deciding where to go and I spend a lot of time looking at maps and pondering my options. With 900 miles of trails in park the options are seemingly endless but many of those miles are very far from the nearest access point so short little loops are hard to come by. After much debate I put together a nice little lollipop that would take me to the top of Mt. Kephart as well as the scenic Charles Bunion.
Things started nicely with a gentle trail up Kephart Prong. There were several groups of backpackers heading towards the shelter but once I turned onto Sweat Heifer I had the trail all to myself.
Halfway up the trail I passed by the Sweat Heifer Cascades and made a mental note to remember the spot to explore for canyoneering this summer.
As I approached the ridge top the views started to open up and I basked in the Carolina bluebird skies.
Up on the Appalachian Trail the trail was covered in snow and ice and my solitude was shattered by an endless progression of day hikers going to and from Charles Bunion who seemed surprised that I was running on the trail.
It was very cold and windy and when I got to Charles Bunion a group of hikers were amazed that I was wearing shorts.
I paused only briefly and tried my best to look casual as I asked them to take my picture.
The iconic rock was the hikers destination and once I left Charles Bunion the mountains were all mine again and I was plunged into solitude. It was all downhill from there and I put it into cruise control and soaked in the beauty and wonder of it all as the miles rolled by.
Sundays are good days for hikes so we went out on a family excursion to Looking Glass Rock. It was snowing and there were not many views to be had but still a classic hike and yet another excellent adventure in Pisgah!