I've been section hiking the Bartram Trail in NC since July, and totally fallen in love with this remote, peaceful, challenging, and well marked (and mapped) trail. I had high expectations because this last section was described as the "grand finale" complete with waterfalls and panoramic views, which I recalled from when I'd previously hiked the AT over Cheoah Bald on a clear day last November.
I arrived at Winding Stairs Bridge Parking area off US 19/74 in late afternoon. High on trapeze endorphins and birthday cake, I sailed up out of Nantahala Gorge admiring the first fall color. Climbing 3000 feet sounds really tough, but I felt as if I could fly.
|Looking across Nantahala Gorge to the "surge tank" where I'd passed a few weeks ago|
|Wet leaves over slippery loose rocks|
|Salamanders come out to play in the rain|
|Lovely, several tiered Bartram Falls drops over 50 feet|
|Dressed in my pink long underwear and new DIY gaiters that I sewed especially for the Bartram Trail|
|monkshood at the spring|
Fog was moving across Cheoah Bald when I arrived. My dream had been to watch the sunset from the bald and see mountains awash in fall colors, not to be socked in with fog! What do you do when you finally reach the exciting climax of a long journey, and then it does not go according to plan!?!?
First I waited. As I watched, the landscape became more breathtaking to me than anything I could have dreamed. The silhouettes of trees stood out dramatically in the swirling fog. For a few moments, the clouds shifted to reveal the surrounding mountaintops.
|Fog on Cheoah Bald|
|Hanging at the edge of Cheoah Bald|
|Full moon and the end to a wonderful birthday and trail!|