Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Middle Mountain Hike (Part Two)!

After leaving Blue Suck Falls (or, rather, the pile of rocks that was supposed to be the falls), I continued upward, climbing the slopes toward Middle Mountain. The trails were all engineered by the old CCC boys and are excellent ones. They're never very steep and there are often plenty of switchbacks so that you don't put too much wear and tear on your knees.

The day continued to be rather cool for the month, but the humidity was slowly picking up and I was beginning to sweat a lot. I had already decided not to drink either of the two quarts of water I'd brought along until I stopped for lunch, which I hoped would be at the Tuscarora Overlook. I didn't know exactly what the "overlook" was, but as it featured prominently on the maps I assumed it was something worth waiting for.

I charged forward.

The trails are all well signed. Not much chance of getting lost here.

I came to a viewing spot called "Lookout Rock". For a great view all you have to do is scramble to the top of this big boulder.

The view from the top of Lookout Rock.

Up on the rock.

The trail goes along the top of the ridge of Middle Mountain.
American chestnut trees. There were hundreds of them here along the top of Middle Mountain. Of course they'll all die back when the blight infects them.

As I was hurrying along (I'd missed the first turn-off to Tuscarora Overlook and had to take the second access trail) I heard something crashing through the woods. I looked up in time to see the back end of a black bear high-tailing it away from me. The wild ones tend to run away from you as fast as they can. After some distance, it turned to see if I was following. I had my regular lens at highest setting here and you can see the bear in the center of the photo. He was some distance away--you should always keep a healthy distance between yourself and bears.

I hurried to get my best telephoto lens attached and the bear moved away a little more, but I was able to capture this last image before he vanished into the forest.

This little cabin sits at the Tuscarora Overlook. It's open to public day-use only. For relaxing and shelter from rain. They do not want hikers to make use of the fireplace, and it's not for overnight stays. The kids here were all part of the YCC (Youth Conservation Corps), a kind of watered-down version of the old CCC. When I was in high school I tried to secure a spot in the YCC, but was unable. Competition in those days was just too fierce. The kids told me that these days it's very easy to get a spot, as long as you're not insistent on a particular location, such as a popular National Park. Their job was to clear the overlook of mountain laurel which had obscured the view from the cabin. They did a good job. The guy on the bicycle is a Douthat Park volunteer.
Inside the little cabin.

I took this shot from behind the cabin looking toward the area the YCC fellows had cleared of brush.

And the view from Tuscarora Overlook.

The view you get because the young guys hacked away all of the brush and shrubs.
I had a snack there at the overlook, drank one of my quarts of water, and took it easy for a few minutes. Then I thanked the volunteer and the YCC folk for their hard work and headed on. Later...part three.

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