The Linville Gorge is similarly popular. However, for some reason that I can't quite figure, I can still go there when I absolutely know the place is full of humans, and yet see no one else. And it's a pretty constricted space when you figure that most folk stay on the trails. So it isn't as if most of them are bushwhacking and that's why I don't bump into them. I reckon there is just enough wilderness so that the people are fortunately widely spaced and I'm free to enjoy my solitude.
So it was on Sunday. I had feared that the Gorge would be heavily used that day, and I was right. Everyone, it seems, has Sunday off. And everyone who wanted to be there, it seems, was. I wanted to hike the Rock Jock Trail, staring at the northern terminus, then hike to the southern end and back to my vehicle. I figured the parking lot for the trailhead would be popular, and I was right. I couldn't even park in the fenced lot and had to place my truck outside the barrier in a clear spot along the road.
After that, I began my hike. And I neither heard nor saw anyone for several hours. I finally did end up encountering eight other hikers at various spots, mainly near the parking area on my way back. But for most of the hike I had a lot of space all to myself, and lots of free time to sit and ponder the world in human-free silence.
|The parking area I chose to use. My truck is at the far end.|
|I love National Forest wilderness signs.|
|The intersection of the Rock Jock Trail with the Conley Cove Trail. Go right and stay on the rim of the Gorge. Take a left and plunge down to the bottom.|
|The Rock Jock Trail is great for the vast, open views.|
|Looking across the Gorge at the aptly named Tablerock Mountain|
|The trail moves in and out of the forest.|
|After a couple of miles of hiking, I had my lunch spot.|
|The view from where I had my lunch.|
|Just about the only wildlife I can always count on seeing in the Gorge is the Turkey vulture. They abound there. I caught this shot with a telephoto lens, camera set for action shots.|
|Across the way, and north, Hawksbill Mountain.|
|A nice telephoto shot of Tablerock Mountain.|
Video of my lunch spot.