Saturday, May 9, 2015

Appalachian Trail: Allen Gap to Spring Mountain Shelter

The original plan for the day was a family trip to Asheville to check out the new Sierra Nevada brewery and do some hiking. However, Sierra woke up sick. Instead of our original plan, I built Noelle a raised-bed garden for Mother's Day. I had finished my project by about noon and so I had the whole afternoon to go for a hike.

Since I would be getting a late start, I opted to stay close to home. I headed to Allen Gap
Allen Gap sign
and hiked south on the Appalachian Trail.
blaze and path
I would be headed to the Spring Mountain Shelter which I had camped at just over 15 years ago during my AT thru hike. It was pretty incredible how warm it was, even up in the mountains, for an early May day. As I hiked, sweat poured off my brow. The tree canopy had largely leafed out, but the shade did not seem to offer much relief from the heat. There were lots of wildflowers still in bloom alongside the trail.
At and trillium
The usual suspects were included: trillium,
white trillium
pink trillium
wild geranium,
geranium
mayapple,
mayapple
and dwarf crested iris.
square iris
three iris
There were some other in bloom though including squawroot
squawroot
and a plant with clusters of white flowers that I could not identify.
square white flowers


I passed a sign indicating the upper terminus of the Little Paint Creek Trail.
Little Paint Creek Trail
I had been curious as to if the trail actually exists since the Paint Creek Trail is largely obliterated due to a flood some years back. Soon after I found attached to a tree a sign that stated there was a prescribed burn in progress,
fire sign
but it seems to late in the spring to do a burn at this point. Everything is too green. It must be left from a burn done earlier in the spring. Interestingly, I never did see any evidence of a burn. I soon found myself at Spring Mountain Shelter.
Spring Mountain Shelter
It's a small and rather old looking structure. There were some other hikers there already. They talked like aspiring thru hikers. Their conversations took me back in time 15 years, and concerns about water and shelters. One confident hiker stated that he is going to get an AT tattoo when he finishes the trail. Okay, but I wouldn't count my chickens before they've hatched. I got some water and signed the register and then retraced my steps on the mostly downhill section of trail back to Allen Gap. I didn't see much wildlife on the hike. Just some birds, a centipede,
curled centipede
and some thru hikers.               

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