|Dames ready to take on the AT.|
After two hours of climbing, we reached the summit of Rocky Mountain, and stopped for lunch in a grassy spot. It was the first time several Dames had scaled 1000 feet and they did such a great job!!!!
As is typical, it was pleasantly cool in the mountains compared to the heat we've had down in the city. Other hikers don't seem to be aware of this, and the trail was virtually empty.
The descent to Indian Grave Gap (2.7 miles into the hike) was just as steep and slippery as the ascent, but the going was easier and the sound of laughter and conversations filled the trail. As we rested at the Gap, Kellye passed around water bottles that she'd stashed in her jeep. By the way, this was the first time Kellye was leading a hike for the Dames, and we were all so grateful for the super job she did!
We also had another treat at the gap- we got to see incredibly beautiful yellow fringed orchids in an open spot along the roadside! Yellow fringed orchids have really long nectar-holding spurs (i.e. long tube thingies), so only those butterflies with really long tongues (like some swallowtails) can reach the nectar in the bottom. When butterflies lap up the sugary nectar, sticky pollen sacs get attached to their eyes. Then, the butterflies visit other flowers, brushing the pollen onto the other plant allowing for pollination. Cool!
|Yellow fringed orchid|
We met up with Kellye and Jules, who had decided to take the car up to meet us at Tray Gap (mile 4.4). Jules told us about a huge beautifully patterned rattlesnake she'd seen and photographed before it slid into the bushes. What a neat find!
Kellye shuttled half the group back, while the rest of us traced our steps back to Indian Grave Gap. Then we all squeezed into cars for the bumpy ride down the forest service road, over a ford, and back to Unicoi Gap. It was such a fantastic hike with a great group of women!