On avait prévu de se lever tôt mais j'avais mal réglé la montre et du coup nous nous sommes levés avec le soleil. Ce n'est pas plus mal, nous avions besoin de récuperer.
Un bon petit déjeuner de flocons d'avoine et nous étions en route. Ce fut une belle montée dans la forêt.
I should have mentionned that the previous day Hubby had had issues with chaffing. He was tempted to carry on to the car but I did not feel it. Given what we hiked on the last day we did good to stay put. It would have been reckless to continue.
We had planned on waking up early but I didn't set the watch right so we woke up with the sun. It worked out good because we needed the rest.
A good breakfast of oatmeal and we were off on the trail again. It was a beautiful hike up in the forest.
We reached the beautiful summit of Winter Star in less than an hour.
Depuis là haut nous pouvions voir non pas une mer mais un lac de nuages comme l'a baptisé Hubby.
It's one of those summits that reminded me of the Lord of the Rings, a bit like a tower from which you can see the surroundings. In fact there are people camp up there given the traces left behind.
From there we could see not a sea of cloud but a lake of cloud as Hubby named it.
I could have spent hours up there looking at the view. It's the kind of summit for which it's worth getting up early to see the sun rise I would think.
Going down we could enjoy the beauty of the Appalachian range. Mountains as far as the eye could see, getting lost in the blues and the fog.
We also got our last rope downhill. We appreciated the rope. The humidity is constantly there on those summits and going down a muddy slope is never easy.
After Winter Star we didn't really have any more official summits. It wasn't easy non the less. The crest kept on playing the roller coaster on us. We could see a few small summits ahead without being able to tell which one would be the last. But there were also some really pretty sections. Like this rock face that Hubby would have loved to climbed. But as he said: "It's a little far from the parking lot to carry the bouldering pad."
We did all that! And more in fact since the beggining part did not fit on the picture.
On the side of the summit Appalachia is sometimes naked to the bone.
Aprés toutes les montées et descentes nous avons été soulagés quand le sentier c'est transformé en une ancienne route de montagne. Quel plaisir d'étirer les jambes avec de grands enjambées. Par contre avec la rosée nos chaussures ont commancé à se mouiller... Hubby un peu moins car il pensé à prendre ses guêtres.
After all the uphill and downhill it was a relief to find the trail turning into some old mountain. What a pleasure to stretch the legs with a wider stride. However with the morning dew our shoes started getting soaked... Hubby's a little less since he thought about taking his gaiters with him.
A last picture before going downhill. So much ground covered, we still have 3000ft of downhill to survive.
Nous ne fairons pas se sommet là. Nous n'avons rien à prouver à personne, notre randonnée n'est pas non plus dans l'objectif de faire un certain nombre de sommets. Non à ce moment là tout ce que nous souhaitons c'est une bonne douche.
Celo Knob is the last summit on the trail. However it's optional. Officially there isn't even a trail to get there on the map. However there is a well marked path under the trees that tells us the contrary, not to mention that the trail marker is indicating us where to go when we're not even at an intersection...
We did not go up to that summit. We had nothing to prove to anyone and our hike was not with the goal to do so many summits. No at that point all we wished for was a good shower.
Once out of the morning dew and as soon as we could find a place to stop we removed our sox. Thankfully for you photos don't carry the smell, thankfully for us we had a change of sox in the bags. I can't imagine the blisters we would have gotten otherwise. We rested a little to give our shoes a chance to dry.
Le sentier avait quelques lacets au départ, mais ça descendait bien quand même. La végétation autour de nous changeait vite. Nous sommes arrivés sur cette magnifique allée de rhododendrons en fleur. C'était absolument sublime.
The trail had several switchbacks but it was a good downhill non the less. The vegetation around us changed quickly. We arrived upon this alley of blooming rhododendrons. It was magnificent.
The surprise was that on the same spot we found blooming rhododendrons but also mountain laurel (white flowers) and flame azalea (orange blooms).
All those pretty colors made me smile.
But where I was even more surprised is when, while taking pictures, my eye caught a little something pink, behind the rhododendrons. Lady Sleepers! I had not seen those since we lived in the woods, before we got married.
Je marchais devant quand j'ai entendu un bruit menaçant. Sorte de bruit de crécelles. Un bruit que je n'avais jamais entendu auparavant. Ce n'était pas des cigales, ça c'est certain. Heureusement pour moi l'instinct a prit le dessus. Je me suis arrétée net et j'étais déja en train de faire des pas en arrière quand Hubby m'a attrapé par l'épaule pour me faire reculer. A quelques mètres de nous, juste au bord du sentier (20cm au plus) se tenait un serpent à sonnette enroulé sur lui même. Sa sonnette nous avait heureusement avertie. Comme m'a dit Hubby le serpent lui même préfère éviter d'avoir à attaquer plus gros que lui.
After that the switchback dissapeared and we faced a serious downhilll. We were walking fast, our feet hitting the ground loudely. And that's what saved our lives. That and instinct...
I was walking ahead when I heard a threatening noise. A rattling sound. Those were not ciccatas, that's for sure. Thankfully for me instinct took over. I stopped on the spot and I was already stepping back when Hubby grabbed my should to make me back up. A few feet ahead of us, right on the side of the trail was a rattlesnake rolled up on itself. Thankfully the rattle warned us. As Hubby told me the snake would rather not have to strike something bigger than itself.
Nous nous sommes éloignées doucement. Plus loin sur le sentier on a croisé des chipmunks qui m'ont redonné le sourire. Sauf bien sur quand Hubby c'est exclamé: "le repas de midi du serpent à sonnette". J'ai bien pensé dire aux petits chipmunks de faire demi-tour mais je me suis dit qu'ils n'allaient de toute façon pas me comprendre.
Eight rattles, about eight years old, they don't get much bigger than that. We did a big circle around it to avoid getting close. I was shaking a bit so you're lucky that all the pictures didn't come out blurry! Hubby told me the snake was more scared of me than the contrary. Right, I doubt that one.
We walked away silently. Farther down the trail we came across chipmunks that brought back the smile to my face. Except when Hubby said: "Rattlesnake lunch!" I thought about telling the little chipmunks to turn back around but I figured they wouldn't understand anyway.
We continued going down until we reached Bowlens Creek. The car wasn't much farther but we took the time to stop by the river for a sandwich and to get a nice cold foot bath. The gnats started coming out, it was much hotter than up on the summits.
Pomme aussi a fait un pause, fatiguée de se ballader dans ma poche, où seul le bout de son nez dépassait, elle voulait prendre l'air.
Pomme also took a break, tired from hanging around in my pocket, where only her nose was out, she wanted to get some fresh air.
The last part of the trail, twenty minutes or so was down in a cloud of gnats. Hard to escape. Then it was the trailhead stick which for us meant thed. All we had left to do was cross a creek. The bridge looked in bad shaped so we crossed on foot, sheoes on. We would be able to change shoes soon.
The altimeter for the day: the crests and the downhill. According to the trail sign back at Mt Mitchell we should have done the hike from Deep Gap to Bowlens Creek in 6h. It only took us a little over 4h. I guess we're both in pretty good shape.
Enfin la voiture. Nous n'avons croisé personne sur le sentier depuis Deep Gap. Il ne nous reste plus qu'a récuperer l'autre voiture et rentrer à la maison où nous avons fait les loques. Purée qu'est ce que les mollets tiraient un fois sortis de la voiture!
Au total nous avons fait 44km de sentier avec plus de 1100m de dénivelé entre Bowlens Creek et Mt Mitchell. Ce n'est pas une randonnée a faire avec des petits enfants. Il faut quand même avoir le niveau, mais ce n'est pas non plus de l'alpinisme. Il n'y a pas besoin d'autre équipement que de bonnes chaussures marches et les affaires de camping. Par contre c'est certain qu'il faut porter son eau. Les sources sont relativement rares. La vue est vraiment incroyable tout le long de la randonnée.
La prochaine longue randonnée sur ma liste c'est l'Art Loeb trail...
At last the car. We met no one on the trail since Deep Gap. All we have left to do is get the other car and drive home where we became couch potatoes. Jeez where the calfs painful once out of the car!
We totalled 27.5 miles with over 3300 feet of elevation difference from Bowlens Creek to Mt Mitchell. It's not a hike to do with young children. You need to have a good hiking level, but then again it's not mountaineering either. No need for more equipement than good hiking shoes and camping gear. However it is important to carry your water. The springs are rare. The view is amazing on the entire trail.
The next long hike on my list is the Art Loeb Trail.