Not much vegetation of interest on the trail at this time of year. There was a little bit of rhododendren and what looked like holly, but even the lichens were a little on the light side. It would be interesting to know what grows here during warmer times of the year.
I was at the 2 mile mark 2 hours after starting the trail and was starting to feel like I was never going to get there, but I was determined to keep going. A young couple passed me on a steep section and told me I was getting closer, then they swung merrily past with their gallon jug of water and their young, strong legs.
I was speechless a few minutes later. After struggling up a rocky and root twisted tunnel I was confronted with a rock face with some steps that were looking a little time-worn cut into it.
I shimmied up to the right instead of taking the steps, now understanding what the young girl was laughing about up ahead when she shouted "There's no need to show off!"
If I thought it ended there I was soon proven wrong. My mind went blank when confront with rock that went straight up without the aid of steps of trees to grab onto.
After staring at it stupidly for a few minutes I decided I'd just have to try it and see what happened. It turned out that the surface was actually really easy to climb, my shoes grabbed the rough rock and the angle was perfect for going upward.
I'd been warned by the ranger that when I thought I'd made it to the top to keep going, so I knew there was more to come. At that point I heard more voices coming up the trail and was joined by Patty and Tina who were training for a Trailblaze Challenge to benefit Make-A-Wish. They were planning to complete 28.3 miles on the Appalachian Foothills Trail in just one day!
These gals were pretty inspirational, I couldn't imagine doing all those miles in one day, ever! Three days? No problem! Two? Maybe...
They had lots to talk about and we shared snacks on the summit, including some amazing homemade granola bars made by Patty. By the way Patty, I need that recipe, stat! I gave them my card, we all took pictures of each other on the summit, and then we turned around to make our way back down.
|view from Table Rock|
The pictures taken of me didn't turn out, I'm guessing my shutter button fooled Tina and when she pressed it down halfway she thought she pressed it all the way down. But, Rue got her picture taken at the summit and that's what counts, right?
We saw some crows chasing what looked like a piece of paper through the air as we made our way back across the top of Table Rock, it was fun to watch them before the hard work of all those steps going down.
Going down was hard on everyone's knees, but we kept each other distracted with lots of chatter and when we got to the bottom I was astonished when Tina informed me it took us 2 hours to climb down. Wow! I started the trail at 9:15 and was back at the bottom at 2:45.
The sign at the Nature Center gave a trail length of 3.6 miles each way, but with my extra bit of walking from the cabin and then back and the end I figure it was 7.5 miles total, which may be the longest hike I've gone on to date unless I've forgotten an flatter one that was longer. Would I do this trail again? No, it was too hard on my knees, but I would recommend doing it once, I bet it would be really nice in another month when spring really gets going around here.
More on Tuesday about meeting my friend Peggy face-to-face and our final weekend at Table Rock.