|View from atop Chestnut Ridge|
|The Middle Prong Wilderness making up just 8 miles of the MST, but sandwiched between Pisgah National Forest and the Nantahala National Forest, offering the hiker a seamless wilderness experience|
|Trillium (Trillium spp.) berry of a Trillium's single large flower - these berries are NOT edible and will produce gastric upset if consumed. Trilliums are a rare and habitat sensitive plant, so best to simply admire them anyhow.|
|Me and Harvey. Harvey is usually Rachel's main squeeze, but I got to enjoy his company on this day!|
|Heading towards camp in the diminishing light near Black Balsam|
Becca Day and her friends Claire and Debbie. I met Becca by running into her on the trail and asking her with great trepidation, "Is this the MST?" To which she replied, "Yeah!" Oh thank God. Because this is a designated wilderness area, there are few blazes and many side trails where hikers have wondered off and gotten lost, therefore I was doing my damnedest to stay on track. After learning I was thruhiking Becca happened to offer up her home when I came through Balsam Gap in the next day or two. Well...let's just say I took Becca up on that offer after hiking in a torrential downpour the next morning for 3 hours at 5000 feet over steep rocky trail and across the tops of blowing wind balds. Okay, so maybe after I realized my hands were so cold I couldn't tie my own shoes and in a dumb-handed frenzy threw my tent down on the side of the trail, ripped off my wet clothes, got inside tried not to get anything else wet, put on every article of dried clothing I had, got inside my sleeping bag, and then proceeded to eat half my food bag, fall asleep with head on said food bag, and wake up to the rain still pouring down...I called Becca...asking her to meet me 7 miles before Balsam Gap. Becca, thank you, you were a true Trail Angel! Oh yeah, and then Becca, her husband, and I all ate Mexican and drank Angry Orchard. Does it get any better than that?
|A snail - I saw so many of these guys, I had to be careful not to crush them underfoot- at least they have been enjoying the rain!|
|The sign telling me Clingman's is only getting closer!|
|The countryside of Sylva, a little town along the edge of the Tuckaseegee River and that sits at the base of the Waterrock Knob, Black Rock, Yellowface, and Pinnacle.|
Tomorrow...into the SMOKIES! I will do one small post following this one with an announcement for my final book event in Asheville at Black Dome, but my next full post will be upon COMPLETION!
I must leave you with the photo of one more friend that I met during an actually beautiful, fall-like, crisp day in the Middle Prong Wilderness...