Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Second Round

On a later, summer trip, I had more time to spend on the Black Mountain Crest Trail. The weather was warm (early July), and very wet. It rained on me for much of the time, but this is to be expected in the Black Mountains, which typically make their own weather. The air has to pass over the 6,000-foot peaks, and in doing so the atmosphere condenses and drops a lot of moisture. Because of all of this rain, the slopes are a rich cross-section of forest types.

When the clouds press low and hide the peaks and dull the views, one is left to experience a more intimate relationship with the mountains. The forests close in around you and press down, green a dark and fragrant. There is an explosion of life--it's all around you. Even in death, the trees spring forth with life--mosses and lichens and fungi and new sprouts reach toward the sky. It's altogether a different thing.

I push into the dark forest, knowing that I will find solitude and silence.

A passing day-hiker on the cliffs of Mount Craig. The highest land in the eastern USA looms beyond.

Late rhododendron in bloom on the highest peaks. Their fellows long since faded.

The Black Mountain Crest Trail is nothing if not rugged. Everything about it is messy and exhausting, like good, hard work.

The old trees grip the ridge lines desperately, clinging to existence against the press of wind and water and time.

Little mosses.

The woods are dark here--from a distance they are black.

An explosion of ferns. I surprised a bear in this area. He ran from me so quickly that I barely had time to acknowledge his presence--sleek and black as he fled down the mountain.

Ferns and mosses and a host of other plants take advantage of the fallen.

The rugged trail tackles the slopes as it always does: head on.

Each log fades into the dark, green Earth.

My little tent, down in Deep Gap. Pitched and ready for the evening. The following morning would be the trek to Celo Knob and return.

A little bird who waited in front of my tent for me to toss him a crumb. Alas!

More, tomorrow...

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