Stopping to get gas in the blazing heat, I was apprehensive. Many years ago, I got heat stroke and dehydration and ended up in the hospital with an IV, and have always been very cautious about hiking in the heat since then. But at our trailhead at Rock Gap, NC, a comfortable breeze greeted us. I was so relieved how cool it was up at this high elevation! We were also starting out late in the afternoon to avoid the hottest part of the day, and only had 2.5 miles to get to camp near Glassmine Gap.
|Hemlock and Still Waters|
The mid-summer wildflowers were gorgeous along this section, and I was so excited to finally see the open flowers of wood's bunchflower (Veratrum woodii), a plant that's been a mystery to me for several years. I'd seen the leaves for many years, but never know what it was because I'd never seen the flowers. Now, I suspect it's because they flower during the hottest time of year when I'd always previously avoided hiking in the southeast-- usually by escaping to other parts of the country.
From Glassmine Gap, we followed the Long Branch Trail about 0.2 miles down to a campsite in a small rhododendron-lined cove. We dipped our toes in the icy stream and they grew cold after only a moment of soaking. I slept soundly in my hammock listening to the sounds of the babbling stream filling the valley.
|Along the Long Branch Trail|
|Turk's cap lily (Lilium superbum)|
|Bee balm (Monarda didyma)|
It was such a delightful surprise that it never felt too hot while hiking, even though I know it was dreadfully hot down in Atlanta. It was wonderful to be up high in the cool North Carolina mountains, never too far from a cool stream or spring.
|We hear thunder far off, but never got any rain.|