On Easter Sunday we set out late in the afternoon for a short hike to Buzzard Rock. We drove up Whitetop Mountain Road and parked in a gravel parking lot just steps away from the Appalachian Trail.
We only went a mile out and the trail had three distinct sections:
The trail surrounded by blueberry bushes, woods, and balds.
On the first section we met a through hiker setting up camp for the night, he had come up from Springer Mountain and was going to reach 500 miles the following day. He was from Nebraska and in incredibly good spirits. He was the only hiker we saw that day.
The next section through the woods had a more rocky path and more exciting things to distract the children. They had to be bribed and carried to keep them making forward progress here.
Once we left the woods there was a brief stretch through bushes and then we found ourselves up on the bald, with the entire world at our feet. There are several collections of rocks to climb and the views were stunning. The sun was coming through the clouds in exactly the right way to make you to drop everything and jump on the trail to Maine.
Unfortunately we were just not equipped to walk to Maine, so we returned via the road which required a fairly steep uphill climb followed by a gentle slope down the parking lot. The road wasn’t as pleasant as the trail, but the views kept getting better and better.
I have really loved every step of the Appalachian Trail that I’ve been privileged to walk and every time I’m near it I can’t help thinking how wonderful it would be to hike the whole thing. To take 5 months and completely get to know the woods and your own body? To bond with your fellow hikers over the simple but incredibly difficult process of putting one foot in front of the other day after day? Logistically it seems impossible to do for another 20 years, but I did come across this blog today about a family who hiked the whole trail with their 7 year old, 9 year old, and dog. Maybe I need to start planning for a few years from now? Or maybe we need to set a goal to complete xx miles every year?