I've never seen a profile map of the trail, but it has to be extreme. The constant up and down really works your muscles and lungs even when you don't have a bum knee and a really bad back. For me, it's exceedingly tough and by the time I was less than halfway back I was struggling. Fortunately, I'd started the hike early enough so that I didn't have a problem with daylight and for the first time ever for this trail I'd brought more than enough water.
So, the last three miles for me consisted of LOTS of stopping to rest and LOTS of water breaks and LOTS of extra photography.
Someday, when I'm recovered from all of these injuries, I hope to be able to do this trail as I used to be able to do it when I was in better physical condition. When that happens, I'll do another overnight traverse of the Black Mountains and camp in Deep Gap, one of my favorite campsites in North Carolina.
|It was cold up in them thar hills! First icicle of the hiking season!|
|Some of the best views are from Potato Hill.|
|On the top of Cattail Peak.|
|The almost constant moisture on these peaks produces a LOT of moss.|
|Green, my friends.|
|The trail is like a tunnel through the red spruce.|
|Everywhere the moss.|
|Trees grasping for purchase anywhere.|
|This is why the trail kicks my ass.|
|Gnarly snag on Mount Craig as I hit the home stretch.|
|A last, longing look back where I had been.|
|Fall paints the lower peaks.|
|This peak below was interesting because of the difference in vegetation from one side to the other. Evergreens on the north-facing slopes, hardwoods south-facing.|
Quiet time on Cattail Peak.