An amazzzzzing day on the trail today with James, lichenizing... we are working hard to photograph 'end of field guide' species, i.e., those that we still don't have photos of... those last lingering items.
Left Purchase Knob at 6:38am. Arrived at the trailhead just at 8:17 and started (speed) hiking at 8:30am.
From Elkmont Campground, our Smokies Marathon:
Up Little River Creek Trail (which was hardly a little river… rather quite large!)… beautiful lowland riparian forest… tons of lichen cover and diversity… I would come here again!
Up the rather spectacular “Goshing Creek” Trail (must be: gushing creek..)… also incredible lichen diversity and abundance, and definitely would come here again!
Hit the App Trail around mile 11.5ish, hooked a right, confined the ridge trail past Double Gap Shelter, Silers Bald Shelter, and then some… this is also spectacular forest (I need some new verbs) with an incredible set of lichens against huge, old growth Prunus and extensive beech gap forest… I would also come here again!
We had a good long look down Hazel Creek and Welch Ridge, remembering fondly our backpacking trip there this time last year….
The ridge took forever to traverse, but we finally hit “Miry’s Ridge” Trail (must be: Mary’s ridge…). From here, rolling ridges up and down for 5 miles to the junction with Jack’s Creek Trail. We were already high-tailing it, but kicked it into top speed at this point, sensing the end of day nearing and us still being very far from the car. Our top speed hiking turned into a steady paced jog.
Hit Jack’s Creek Trail at 6:05pm, which signaled 4 more miles to go. At this point, I packed up the camera, James his collecting gear, we strapped our backpacks down tightly, and took off. We absolutely flew down the last four miles… some of the fastest trail running we have ever done (with packs on) in the Smokies. I relished every minute of it - I had a fucking blast!
Hit the car at 6:43pm. 25+ species needed for our field guide, photographed, collected, including some new to science. Hugely successful day.
The weather couldn’t have been more perfect… mid 70s with a light breeze. I might have hiked for a fair portion of the day in my bra and underwear. That setup plus the very large macro camera around my neck, and James with his shirt off, hammer and chisel and pillowcase in hand, made for some interesting looks from the locals.http://www.mapmyrun.com/workout/2536504818