Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Flat Top Mountain Trail (Part Two).

As I said earlier, I had hiked half this trail once before, some years back. That had been on one of our first visits to the Peaks of Otter. The day I had hiked to the summit the weather had not cooperated, at all. Mother Nature had thrown rain and thick clouds at me all the way to the top of the mountain and back down. This time, though, the air was about as clear as it gets. It was plenty cold, but the views were spot-on perfect.

Cross Rock had been one of the points I had missed on the first hike because I had just hit the summit, clambered about on the exposed rocks, and headed back down. From there I pushed on to the summit which was a half-mile away, hitting a shallow gap and then heading upslope to the very top of the mountain.

As with the first part of the trail, the grade was easy. To repeat: this has to be one of the most well-engineered hiking trails I have ever hiked. I didn't get winded at all, despite climbing about 1600 feet from the Parkway in a little less than two and a half miles.

The summit was as I recalled it, a vast area of patchy hardwoods and vast jumbles of tremendous boulders and steep cliffs. I found the same spot I had used to climb atop the rocks before and walked out onto the exposed stone to see the views. They were even better at the very top than I'd seen at Cross Rock. To my left was Apple Orchard Mountain and to my right was Sharp Top (which I'd been unable to see from Cross Rock).

I set up my tripod and remote control to get some self-portraits, but the wind knocked it all over and I almost lost everything to the cliffs. I was just damned lucky not to have been hiking down the mountain without my camera--or with a pile of shattered junk that had once been my camera. Because of the gusting winds I didn't feel safe setting up the tripod anymore and just decided to take photos of the scenery and forgot about self-portraits with the high country as a background.

After about a half hour at the top I decided against having lunch on the mountain and instead pushed on to return to the Lodge. I had now seen the half of the trail that I'd missed that first time some years back--everything else was relatively familiar to me as I made my way down the mountain.

Sign at Cross Rock.

Heading up!

Again...just a wonderfully engineered trail.

Just below the very summit!

Looking to my left, toward Apple Orchard Mountain.
And, finally, a view toward Sharp Top!
It didn't take long to locate the USGS benchmark.

I took a photo of this jumble of boulders last time.

As I got to the base of the mountain the terrain got a lot less rocky.

This is where the trail the picnic area.

But I had another half mile to go, passing "Big Spring".

It does have a tremendous flow of fresh water, and once supplied the drinking water for the town of Bedford.

This place was an actual lodge once upon a time. A primitive bed and breakfast in its day.

And then I crossed the dam to Abbott Lake and it was just a short walk to the Lodge.

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