After leaving the Mountains to Sea Trail we started down a relatively well-worn path made for us by rock climbers. It passes through the part of the forest that was burned down in the drought-induced fire of 2000. This fire scoured off all of the trees on this side of the gorge. Eight years later, during the next severe drought, another fire would denude to gorge of its trees on the opposite side. (I wrote about that on this blog in my recounting of our hike on the Rock Jock Trail.)
The trees are beginning to recover, but it's a struggle to hike through a forest of eight-year-old trees. They are just the right height to impede walking and the needles of Table Mountain pines are quite sharp and painful.
After dropping down from the heights of the ridge, we soon found ourselves hiking on the northern arm of The Amphitheater. It was as fantastic as Andy had promised. You find yourself atop a looming cliff face that falls down into a side canyon that trickles with water. Down in those spaces I could spot a few good campsites for another day--shelves of earth and rock with pools of water waiting to quench a camper's thirst or for boiling water for a hot meal. I aim to return with my loaded backpack.
Andy and Boone as we hiked out on the northern arm of The Amphitheater.
I can't think of a better place to stop and eat lunch. The weather was cooperative. The skies were clear with cobalt skies. It was unseasonably warm--the temperatures were in the 70s and I wished all along the hike that I'd worn shorts.
One of the few self-portraits I took on this hike. Andy had brought his camera and was good enough to take a number of photos of me and the mountains.
Looking from the south rim of The Amphitheater toward the north rim. The top of the cliff is where Andy was eating his lunch in that earlier photo.
The scenery seemed to change with the light. As the sun rose in the sky, shadows altered the landscape.
As the day was winding down, we had to move to get out of the gorge. The trail at some points is...well...an experience in itself. Here we negotiate a fat man's squeeze along the highest of the ridge line.