Hiking Max Patch
I can’t tell you how long I have had a thing for the Appalachian Trail, but it has been a few years now. I watched a documentary on Netflix about the trail, its construction, and its hikers, and I immediately fell in love. After reading “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed about her section hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, I loved it even more.
The siblings and I had been planning a trip to the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina for months. We not only love the mountains, but the turning leaves of fall are a photographer’s dream. Our first morning there, my brother-in-law asked our neighbor about hiking in the area and found out that the Appalachian Trail (or the AT) was just four miles down the road. I was ecstatic.
We loaded up the car, got some sustenance at a tiny mountain gas station, and then drove up a winding dirt road through endless deciduous trees until we reached Max Patch, a favorite lookout point of AT thru-hikers (people who hike all 2160 miles in one go from Georgia to Maine). There was a line of cars belonging to families, couples, and friends. Apparently Sunday of Columbus Day weekend is a popular time to get out an explore for day hikers.
We took the easy way up the mountain. Instead of climbing straight up, we took a longer, winding path up to the summit. But let’s be honest–the Appalachians feel like hills compared to the Rockies where I come from.
About half way to the top we paused to let some thru-hikers past. They all had huge backpacks and hiking books and all the guys had proper man beards. I kind of just wanted to ditch everything and join them.
Coco had never been on a hike before. To be honest, she is absolutely terrible on a leash. She’s afraid of kids and people she doesn’t know, and she doesn’t know how to handle excitement. Despite that, we decided it was way too warm to leave her in the car, so we took a chance and she actually did really well.
This is the view that was waiting for us at the top. I can’t even describe that moment. The mountains stretched into eternity and the valleys flowed together with rolling colors of red, orange, yellow, and green. Their gentle crevices were darkened by clouds that seemed much closer than they had a few hours before. A breeze of crisp air whipped across the summit and we couldn’t stop smiling once we caught our breath.
Selfie on a mountain.
Family on a mountain.
Hashtag no makeup.
The high of the AT was huge and I have been dying to share it with you these past weeks. Our day hike was only a few hours, but everything that we took away was amazing, for me especially. I will share more about that later when I post about the following morning. Let’s just say it involves some really classy sunrise shots.
Until next time,