It has been a very long time since I have been able to post to this blog. It's been a crazy year and some. Some good things and some challenging things have taken over my life. But, I've slowly started getting back out to the mountains of Tennessee and taking pictures. This week, I had taken a couple of days off from work and spent one of those days up in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.
A colleague of mine at the University of Tennessee, another hiking enthusiast, let me know about the House Mountain State Natural Area. This mountain, with a network of easy or strenuous trails, is just 8 miles northeast of Knoxville. Since I currently live in the northeastern area of Knoxville, it's right nearby.
Last year, some friends of mine with whom I was working at the Clemson Libraries went with me to hike to the top of Blood Mountain, which lies along the Appalachian Trail in northern Georgia. It's one of my favorite places, and I was glad to share it with folks who had never been there. Unfortunately, due to rain and low clouds, there wasn't much of a view when we reached the top. This is a pretty strenuous hike, although it is only just over 4 miles up and back, and it was disappointing to have worked so hard for so little to see.
On the first weekend of April, I decided to head up to the Table Rock summit again. Last time, it was in the middle of autumn, but this time, spring was just starting to make itself felt. So, the foliage wasn't as lush as before, and the weather still had a little bit of a chill in it. This 3.5 mile hike up the mountain is relatively challenging, although the downward trip is a bit more taxing on my aging knees.
So, my wife and I, still on our hiking vacation, decided to take some time in the Great Smoky Mountains along the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. After looking through some hiking choices, we opted to go for the Andrews Bald Trail. This trail is about 3.5 miles round trip to a peak that tops out at around 6300 feet. It is a moderate trail, with an elevation gain of about 900 feet, but it's a nice day hike.
The Parson's Mountain Recreation Area is just outside of Abbeville, SC, which is about an hour and a half south of the Clemson area. I got to be rather familiar with this route, as I had tried multiple times to take this trail. I had been looking for a different place to hike, and I had found the loop trail around the lake at Parson's Mountain on the internet. This was my third time trying to hike this trail, and I finally found the park to be open for the spring.
For my last hike of 2012, I took a relatively short hike just outside of Pickens, SC. The hike was the Glassy Mountain Hike, which is part of the Department of Natural Resources Heritage Trust program. Apparently, this trail had been closed for the fall of 2012, as it was cleaned up and new erosion controls were put down.
I took a rather challenging hike, this time around, up in the foothills of upstate South Carolina. I had been to Table Rock State Park before, to go on the Carrick Creek Loop Trail. However, this time, I decided to go for the summit of Table Rock itself. Climbing to the top of Table Rock was worth the work, but it was a more strenuous hike than I had done in while. The hike is just a bit over 3 miles to the actual summit, with another half-mile or so to a fantastic view that is worth it, if you still have the energy.
I admit it, I'm a sucker for autumn. It's my favorite season of the year, the little extra chill in the air, the color of the leaves, everything. A couple of weeks ago, I went looking for one trail, but ended up on another, enjoying a day that seemed to presage the oncoming fall season. This was part of the Appalachian Trail, one of the most well-known trails in the country, and it was beautiful.
Been a pretty busy June, but I found an afternoon that I was able to get out to hike. I felt compelled to back to the Blood Mountain area of North Georgia. I've hiked up Blood Mountain before, and it's one of my favorite areas to go. There was no time to go up the mountain, but I figured I had time to take a quick excursion up the Byron Herbert Reece Trail, which is only about .7 miles, but it's one of the entry trails to the Appalachian Trail.