A beautiful September morning found me heading out to an Appalachian Trail access point. One of my favorite hike leaders scheduled a series of climbing hikes and this would be the easiest of the series. This past year I had cut back on hiking. Now for whatever reason, I’m moved to get back out there. up and up for about a mile up a steep rock ascent.
Along with our leader and four other hikers, we began our climb up Stony Mountain on the Henry Knauber Trail. If you don’t like hiking rocky ascents, forget this trail. On the bright side, it was a great 800-foot climb workout.
We thankfully took a couple of brief rest stops on the way to the top. Once we plateaued there was opportunity to enjoy the foliage and the bounty of the forest. A variety of ferns cover the forest floor. We see a princess tree, an invasive species, along the path. I believe those are Jack-O-Lantern mushrooms. To be sure, I could go back at night and see if they are luminescent, but I think I’ll pass on that. One trip up the ascent was enough for the week.
We made our way to the Stony Mountain Fire Tower. The tower hasn’t been used since the 1970’s but continues to serve as a great landmark for hikers.
On our descent we discovered that a rockslide had done some remodeling of the path. It was passable but unexpected. From there, a gentler descent continued from the Horseshoe Trail to an unnamed trail with pink blazes.
Five miles of ascents, a slightly more gentle descent and a pleasant trail walk to finish, we are back at the trailhead. My Garmin says we did 1,243 feet of ascent and 1,171 feet descent. After being away from running and hiking trail for awhile, I remember why In like this type of hike. Making my way through miles of rock strengthens my ankles, the ascents work my quads and the forest has a way of keeping my head in the present.
What are you doing these days to keep your head in the present?