Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Summit of McAfee Knob

On the first day of the trip Andy and I just took a day hike to the summit of McAfee Knob. The summit is one of the most well known peaks on the entire Appalachian Trail and it's a very popular hike. You will likely never have the mountaintop to yourself, so don't expect to find anything like quiet and solitude up there. The views are spectacular, and because you can take some really great photos standing on a precipice high above the valley about 2,000 feet below, it's a can't-miss opportunity. How I managed to avoid this peak for so many years is a mystery to me.

Despite appearances, the most dangerous thing we did was cross the highway from the parking lot where the Appalachian Trail crosses. When we got there the traffic was not bad, but on the hike out it must have been quitting time and people were roaring through the gap, ignoring the "SLOW" signs posted to keep the hikers and backpackers safe. Getting across was a risky move when we returned to the car. It was rather nerve-wracking.

For some reason I had thought that we were only going to hike about three miles to the peak, round trip. Instead, it was 3.7 miles to McAfee Knob for a round trip total of almost seven and a half miles. I only had about two quarts of water with me and I ended up regretting that decision. Andy gave me some of his Gatorade so I didn't completely dehydrate. But it's the kind of mistake I used to make when I first started hiking--not something I do these days. Because of that, the last mile returning to the car was pretty miserable for me.

Once on the summit of the mountain we relaxed with the fairly large number of other hikers and backpackers who were there. The weather was very pleasant with partly cloudy skies, so it was nice to just laze around and soak up the scenery and the sunshine. I found a spot on the clifftops that seemed tailor-made for was kind of weird, and so comfortable that I ended up dozing off.

While I was dozing, Andy was exploring the area and he later showed me some rocky mazes just below the top of the mountain. The terrain was very reminiscent of Beartown State Park in West Virginia, but not quite as moist as that park. Here on the mountaintop the ground was a lot drier. Andy even ran into a rattlesnake while exploring, so we avoided that particular spot as we wandered around looking at the rocks and trees.

Rocky Maze on the summit of McAfee Knob.

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