Okay, you gotta work with me here ...
I did the math. When I cover less than about 7 trail miles (one way distance) on a given day, I'm actually going backwards - my projected date for finishing gets later, so it feels like I'm farther from my goal. I started today (February 28th) with a projected finish date of November 6th, hiked 13.2 out-and-back miles and found that, as a result, I'd finish the trail on November 7th.
And then I checked the map. As I hit the trail I headed northbound from Devils Fork Gap, but I was traveling south. Fortunately when I turned around and headed southbound I got back to where I started anyway.
You see? It's Opposite Day. All day today Tennessee was east of North Carolina. Now that's a pretty good trick, given the established fact that Tennessee is *west* of Missouri. Reliable reports from other parts of North Carolina confirm that the state does remain west of the Bermuda Triangle - hmmmmm - west of Tennessee too? Spooky! Glad I didn't have to venture too deeply into Tennessee today - might never have come out.
Ahh, but seriously folks ... logistics (lack of access points) dictated the short hike today. Still, what the hike lacked in length it made up for with some surprises. Not the least of these was a chance encounter with three dedicated maintainers from the Carolina Mountain Club. And one of them introduced himself as Lenny Bernstein, Appalachian Trail Conservancy board member - quite a trail celebrity (there are only 14 board members), quite an honor and a pleasure. He was out with Bob H. transferring responsibility for maintaining one section to him.
Where I met Lenny was near the summit of Lick Rock. (I didn't see him lick any rocks, so I felt pretty confident that the name was ceremonial rather than some sort of requirement.) Nearby was another pleasant surprise - an excellent vista provided by a clearing that the USFS maintains for wildlife. You can see the cut in the mountain that construction of I-26 required, and beyond that is the summit of Bald Mountain, clearly visible on this bright almost summer-like day.
Finally, back down the slope a thousand feet or so, the trail passes a nice cascade, and despite it being Opposite Day none of the water seemed to be flowing uphill. But don't worry, I can explain that based on the well-known alternative gravitational theory: "There is no gravity - the Earth just sucks". This small part of the Earth definitely did not suck today ... so according to the theory the water should be flowing up ... except ... it's Opposite Day. (Are you dizzy yet?)
Here's the track, showing the route of today's hike as recorded on my GPS. Also, there's a link to many more photos:
AT Day 53 - Lick Rock at EveryTrail
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