Monday, January 05, 2009

Back to Middle Prong?

I'm thinking of heading back to the Middle Prong Wilderness Area next week. I haven't been back there to hike in a couple of years. I spent a memorable overnight solo-backpacking trip there in 2005. Right before I seriously injured my foot at work and was hobbled for several months.

There are two 6,000-foot peaks in the wilderness that I need to bag to add to my list. Mount Hardy I attempted on that trip, but the hike up was a pure bushwhack and I kept encountering thick rhododendron and steep rock faces that stopped me. As I was alone, I didn't want to risk getting hurt with no one able to find me. So if I head up there I'll try again by a different route.

I also need to hike to the top of Richland Balsam. I've hiked it before, but didn't have a camera with me. It's the highest mountain in the Pisgah National Forest and I need to make that one official by snapping a few shots.

At any rate, it's a particularly beautiful area and I need to get back there for no other reason, really, than to see it again.

Standing at the edge of the Middle Prong Wilderness a few steps off of NC 215.

Red spruce forest. My hiking kryptonite. It was on this trip in 2005 that I first got lost in such a forest. Once I'm in them, everything looks exactly the same. And if the trail isn't blazed somehow, I find myself completely disoriented.

Standing on Green Knob looking over at Mount Hardy (6,110 feet). The thick vegetation and rock outcrops kept me from the summit that day. I took this self-portrait maybe two hours before I went on a leisurely stroll into the spruce forests at my back and got myself totally lost.

This was my camp near the top of Green Knob. The forest beyond is where I got lost.

Sunset photo that I took just after getting back to camp after being lost for half an hour as the sun was getting low on the horizon. I was never so glad to see my tent in my life. That's Sam Knob (6,040 feet) off in the background.

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