Saturday, August 26, 2017
It was another cool morning, almost fall-like. The day was the same with the high of 67 degrees on the mountain and 70 in the campground. Blue skies interrupted by some scattered clouds. With the leaves already beginning to change – nice red leaves already – we really felt like autumn is approaching. Great hiking weather.
We decided to stay one more day so that we could hike one more mountain. We hated to leave without hiking the campground’s name sake, Standing Indian Mountain. We could have hiked from Rock Gap where we completed yesterday’s hike but the sign said hiking the Appalachian Trail from there would give us an 18.3 mile hike. Since we would have to hike the return as well we decided we were not quite ready for that hike. We could however drive to the Deep Gap trail head on the Appalachian Trail and hike up from there. We thought that was a 5 mile hike to the summit giving us 10 miles for the day but after hiking to the summit discovered it was about 2.5 to the top. So with the added spurs we did off the trail we hiked 5 to 5.5 miles today, all on the AT. This hike was rated “more difficult” due to the increase in elevation. It was strenuous going up but much easier on the way back. We know people who have hiked the entire AT as through-hikers and others who are doing it in sections. While hiking the entire AT is truly an accomplishment, we know that is never going to be a realistic goal for us. We are however making it a goal to hike a portion of the AT in each state it passes through. Currently we only have Tennessee and North Carolina but maybe we can pick up Georgia soon. We would like to hike the southern and northern terminus of the AT some day. Anyway, today’s hike up Standing Indian Mountain was a beautiful one. Sadly last year’s fires burned on both sides of the trail much of the way up the mountain. While the fire damage is obvious, the undergrowth is making a quick return. The ferns are lush and green and everywhere. There are wonderful wild flowers lining the trail most of the way up. In many places the flowers almost touch your arms on both side as you pass. The bees are loving the flowers. The buzzing is almost unnerving although the bees seemed totally uninterested in us. Again there was rhododendrons in many areas. The ones at higher elevation were still blooming and a few had not even started. Hope they bloom soon because there were lots of red leaves at higher elevation as well. There were beautiful views from the summit as we expected. We also found a twelve year old geocache on the top. While exploring the summit some of our neighbors from the campground hike up with their two young boys. The Dad had hiked here a number of years ago and told us there was an Indian head in a rock somewhere on top. Together we found it. Neat! It was another great day in the mountains.