I've met my first blogger! One of the great things about this adventure in blogging has been finding out that I'm not the only lady out there hiking alone. That being said, it's always fun to have a companion along for a change of pace. I also got a great tip on trekking poles - Sharon swears that her $20 poles from Walmart are just as effective as the over $100 ones she's tried belonging to other people. I saw a pair at Walmart a few days later and picked them up to see how they felt. I'll do a little more research into what certain poles weigh first. Often I'm carrying a lot of camera equipment and it can get heavy after awhile so every ounce counts!
We met her at the "Y" in Townsend and made plans for a shuttle hike. Wayne stayed behind and took some scenic drives and a walk through the Cades Cove campground due to his back problems, but he did a pretty good job of taking a picture of the two of us before heading out!
Sharon recommended hiking the 2.8 mile Finley Cane trail and then adding the West Prong trail to make it a longer one. The entire hike was about 5.8 miles in length and stayed below 2000 feet elevation with easily navigated ups and downs. The plants seen at this elevation were a bit different than what I've been seeing higher up in the mountains. Sharon was kind enough to tell me the name of the berries but I've since forgotten. I also keep forgetting to put a small notebook in my bag for just such occasions.
We talked about a lot of things on the hike and had a nice time getting to know each other a little better. We also talked about some of the other great places other bloggers we read have been or are at now. Sharon confided that she thinks this area of Tennessee is special due to its ability to experience all four seasons but no extreme weather. From me she was surprised to learn that Wisconsin is pretty windy a lot of the time when I commented on how still it has been since we've been here. I'm used to those tree tops swaying and hearing the whoosh of the wind even when it's quiet on the trail itself. Speaking of trees, when we turned onto the Bote Mountain trail to get to West Prong we did luck into a spot of fall color.
It was hard to move past the beauty of the group camp area on West Prong, but from there the trail ascended gradually for a mile through a rocky area lined with rhododendrens that was very nice.
I took advantage of having a local along to ask lots of questions about the flora and fauna. She pointed some things out to me, I pointed some things out to her. It's interesting how everyone notices different things along the same trail. My eyes spied this out of place snail hanging on to a decaying plant stalk near the ground in a very dry area high above the creek. What was he doing there? Having a hike of his own perhaps?
Sharon commented on the large leaves of the sassafrass tree a couple of times and in some areas where they had all fallen off the tree it looked like the forest critters had a wild party the night before and forgot to clean up. I liked this view so much I laid down on the ground to get a picture of it. You can see the picture of me in action on Sharon's blog here.
On both trails there were a few minor creek crossings, but all were easily navigated at this drier time of year. I spent some time flipping over rocks looking for salamanders but didn't have any luck.
However I did spot some unusual mushroom varieties, all no larger than my thumb and hard to photograph with only my kit lens along. I did the best I could, any identification help would be appreciated!
This tiny cutie was probably the size of a dime and was tucked into a little hidden crevice.
Sharon is talking about a possible trip to Wisconsin next year so we'll probably meet again, this time in my state instead of hers. I told her that she couldn't go wrong stopping anywhere along Lake Superior from the U.P. all the way to Minnesota. Wayne and I would love to meet up with both her and Bill, any excuse to head to Lake Superior! Next year Wayne and I are planning a 3 week long trip at the end of October and into November ranging from Mesa Verde to Albuquerque to Palo Duro Canyon, so anyone who will be in those areas we'd love to meet up with you too!
An interesting thing Sharon does on her blog is her goal to make a friend in every state. Check her out on Gains & Losses and see if you can help her make her goal!