Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Popular Destination

I stopped going to some of my old favorite hiking destinations because, frankly, they just got too damned crowded. One of those is Panthertown Valley. It's just so crowded that I might as well be in town sometimes. So I stopped going.

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.


whisper_the_wind said...

Don't think I saw you, but my car is there. Sunday WAS a great day to be outside.

James Robert Smith said...

I only counted eight people, most of those on the way back to my truck. We could very well have passed one another!