Thursday, July 9, 2015

Blue Ridge Parkway: Sharp Top Hike

We woke up in our campsite to a clear, blue sky. We ate breakfast, packed up camp and headed over to the nature center to begin our hike up to Sharp Top. The hike is listed as a strenuous 3 mile round-trip hike. It felt strenuous with Sierra in the back pack.
tart of hike

The hike started with a gentle ascent on a wide, heavily used trail.
Noelle on trail
We saw a few wildflowers as we hiked, including milkweed,
milkweed
squirrel corn,
squirrel corn
and the last of the year's columbine blossoms.
columbine
Soon the hike got much more difficult. There were lots of rock stairs to climb.
Noelle on stairs
The climb seemed unrelenting. We finally got a short break at a flat area near the junction with a side trail that lead to Buzzard Roost. We opted to save the Buzzard Roost for the return hike though. Soon we found ourselves amongst the rocky crags of the summit area.
approaching summit
We still had a few sets of stairs to contend with though. The stairs and trail wound amongst impressive rock formations.
noelle in rocks
Then we reached the summit.

There were lots of great views in all directions.
Noelle at summit
Medallions set into the concrete walls of the summit area pointed out area landmarks, including the Buzzard Roost.
View from summit
There was one particularly impressive view down towards the Peaks of Otter Lodge and Abbott Lake.
Flat Top and Abbott Lake
I climbed the highest rock for Noelle to photograph me on the summit.
Eric on true summit
Meanwhile, Sierra started to chill a bit in the stiff wind.
Sierra in wind
We started our descent.

On the way down, we headed over to Buzzard Roost to check out the view. It was a jumble of large rocks and too dangerous to take Sierra out on. Sierra and Noelle ate a snack
Sierra and Noelle snacking
while I climbed amongst the boulders to check out the view.
view from Buzzards Roost
After a few photos from the Buzzard Roost I rejoined the girls and ate a snack with them.
Sierra snacking
Once everyone had had their fill of snacks we continued our descent down to the nature center. The center was opened, and so we checked out the animals inside before heading back to the car to continue our drive north. 

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