Blowdowns. Sure, I’ve had to scramble over and/or around fallen trees on the AT many times before, but this little journey from the Route 43 trailhead out to Bobblet’s Gap would feature blowdowns in epic proportions. As in, dozens and dozens. And dozens of them.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up…
The sky was beginning to clear and the temps rise as my son-in-law/usual hiking partner Jace and I set out from the car to climb up to the section of the AT in this area of Peaks of Otter that follows the Blue Ridge Parkway. Almost immediately, we hit a mishmash of tree limbs blocking the trail, but made our way around the obstacle and across a narrow brook and continued our ascent.
Then we hit another downed tree. Fifty yards later, another. And another. And still more. Some spots featured such a knot of trunks and branches that we had to completely circumvent the area.
We waged war against the poor tangled masses until we hit elevation and popped out onto the Parkway. In spite of everything landscape-wise being pretty much dead and dying, the sky was a stunning complement to the views.
Crossing over the Parkway, we began the gentle descent into Bobblet’s Gap, and arrived at the shelter ready to inhale lunch. The bubbling brook nearby was running to the edge of its banks as we sat and ate our food and enjoyed the solitude. Note: One nice thing about hiking this section in November is the strip of Parkway that runs through it is closed to vehicle traffic for the season. So even though we could see the ribbon of asphalt through the trees in many spots, there were no cars racing past to ruin the peacefulness of the hike.
We had our battles with the dead trees for that.
It reached a point where we began dragging the smaller ones we could manage off the trail, giving the local ATC a head start on what will no doubt be a busy spring cleanup. I might even volunteer to come out and help when they do hit this section. The number of fallen trees is appallingly impressive. (When we were driving down off the mountain at hike’s end, the roadside was littered with copious amounts of blowdowns)
In spite of the extra workout and off-trail mileage accrued in order to avoid large tangles of downed trees, our belated OptOutside hike (couldn’t get out on Friday, the actual OptOutside day) was a smashing success.
I’m currently shopping a camera to take on future hikes. My phone screen couldn’t fend off the glare, so most of the time I was literally shooting blind, as some of these photos attest…you can only accomplish so much in post!