Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Eye-Popping Scenery

Andy Kunkle had promised to guide me to a place in Linville Gorge that rivaled some of the West's scenery. It's a placed called The Amphitheater. Known mainly to rock climbers, it's just not common knowledge among the hiking and backpacking community. It consists of a number of huge sheer walls that plunge down pretty much to the Linville River from the heights just below the ridge line not far south of Table Rock and The Chimneys.

This photo journal today illustrates the first part of our hike.

We had parked on Ginger Cake Road at a spot that's pretty popular for casual hikers. For the reason that it's the shortest and easiest route to hike down to the Linville River. We had a hard time finding a parking spot, and I ended up parking on the shoulder of the road. This was taken not far into the woods from the road.

Boone, as usual, was raring to go. He kept running ahead of us and then doubling back to see what was keeping his human companions. Forget about seeing wildlife when you have a dog along.

Classic southern hiking. Narrow trails and rhododendron.

Boone can scrambled up rocky walls, too!

Another great view into the gorge. Hawksbill Mountain was to the north of us and Table Rock was to the south, in the direction we were headed.

As we get alongside Table Rock, we are afforded good views of The Chimneys.

Andy and Boone pose at the base of Table Rock's western walls.

Looking back at Table Rock after we'd paused at the parking area just below it.

This was on the first of the three Chimneys. Go ahead. Try to walk across that pine tree. I dare ya. I double-dog dare ya.

Andy and Boone precede me down the trail.

Yep. That's the trail. A tight squeeze.

See how narrow?
Looking north into the Gorge.

Not sure what's being protected. Could be vegetation. Might be peregrine nesting area. This was on the second of The Chimney formations.

I had clambered up one of The Chimneys, looking for a scrambling route to the top. But it was just a tad too technical for me. But I got a good photo from about 3/4 of the way to the summit looking down at Andy and Boone.

Click on this photo. It's a good one!

The scenery just kept getting more rugged and more spectacular.

The improved cairn that rock climbers have left on the Mountains to Sea Trail to alert their fellows of the way down to The Amphitheater.

Tomorrow: the real deal.

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