I was due to fly out of the US on the 10th Sept, but a bonus opportunity to explore part of the Appalachian trail came up, so I took it. A few days later, and here I am; parked in a car park near McAfee’s Knob, which is the most-photographed part of the trail, apparently. We walked up over the hill, down the other side and back again, a total of 11 miles from the car park near Catawba, though it only needs to be an 8 or so mile round trip to get to the top.
The weather was warm, still with some of the humidity that the East Coast sees well into September, but not boiling hot. Shorts and t-shirt, and trainers to walk in, covered all we needed.
This first day’s walk probably wasn’t the highlight. With cloud cover, there wasn’t much to see once the terrain cleared, and most of the trail leading there was tree-lined, like the above. Still lovely, mind, but without dramatic views, once we were away from the road (which took a good kilometre or more of walking, partly because the trail wound its way upwards from the start) it was mostly a pleasant nature walk rather than feeling like one of the world’s great trails.
You can’t miss the rocky outcrops of McAfee’s Knob. But with clouds swirling, you might miss the valley below. At least it let those of us with an aversion to heights feel a certain sense of security; unable always to see how far down the bottom of the valley was, we were free to pose on the rocks for photos.
We hung around and ate lunch, but with no break in the clouds, eventually we moved off. Halfway down the hill, a break in the trees let us see that the sky looked clearer. A couple coming the other way were hustling to make it to the top while it was clear. And their instinct was right – by the time we turned and made it back up, the cloud was thicker, if anything.
Without views, the highlights of the day were the rocks that crop up along the route. Many and varied. I am no geologist, so that’s all I have to say about that. But they look good.