As I closed the car door my heart dropped. I was leaving, off on another adventure. I looked up at the house only to see her face peeking out at me. I felt like such a traitor. I’d promised her a day of fun and excitement an opportunity to expend her energy running through the woods. Instead I’d locked her in the house, told her to be good and was driving away. The image of her face, a little Kilroy, burned into my memory.
The hopeful eyes begging to join me… what’s a “little” hang nail when you have the whole world to explore.
It couldn’t have been a more perfect day to explore new territory and yet the disappointment of having to leave my hiking partner behind hung heavily on my mind. I knew it was for the best despite my desire to have her along. I’m sure this is just the first of many “injuries” where I will have to weigh the good vs. the bad and make a decision. Could Star have hiked? Yes! She could and would have done it. She would have even enjoyed herself but at the cost of what?! This was not your average little chipped nail that caused a little bleeding. Nope! Her nail had snapped from the top down and with every step she took was pinching the quick between the broken sections. I knew once we were on the trail she would forget about it and would have a blast, but every step would have caused irritation to the quick causing SERIOUS foot issues later. So for now the pathetic pleading eyes was all she was allowed for the day.
Our group arrived at the trailhead ready to go! We were about to tackle my first *intentional 4,000 footer, with the possibility for a second one!
There are few words to describe the hike.
entrance to the enchanted forest
Upon entering the forest the trees closed in on us, the air thick with moisture, we were hiking through clouds!
You just didn’t know what would be coming through the trees
It was a slow meander up the trail. We paused often to appreciate all that surrounded us. At the junction for the Mizpah Hut and Mt. Pierce summit we were drawn to the whims of one of the forest creatures.
The Grey Jays literally had us feeding them out of our hands
I am “Snow White”!!!
Every step lead to discovery!
Once we moved past the clouds the sun caused the trail to glitter!
Hidden jewels lined the trail
I want to live in a world where these line the streets lighting the way!
A miniature world of crystal balls perched upon Matchstick Lichen
Despite all the distractions we made it through the forest and emerged to find a glorious view from the summit!
The wind blasted us driving us further up the mountain to the sheltered nook where the summit markers were hidden.
View from summit of Mt. Pierce looking across to Mt. Eisenhower
The clouds took over the summit within minutes of us arriving. Mt. Eisenhower vanished into the mist. Although we held the desire to bag two 4K’s in a day the safety of the group was the first concern. The walk from Mt. Pierce to Mt. Eisenhower would take us across and exposed ridgeline to a bald summit. It was not the day to test our skills or our gear, weather at those elevations can change to quickly.
When you sit on the throne you are on top of the world
The hike down was no less enchanting. My new buddy and hiking partner for the day kept it real! And thanks to her awesome awareness we had one more surprise before we made it off the mountain. We got to meet a very cute and active critter.
This little critter is known as a Pine Marten
I CAN’T WAIT to return and do this hike again. Star will be along side me venturing into the woods and returning with who knows what. With my luck she’ll gain the gift of speech from some fairy godmother hidden away behind a tree.
*My FIRST 4K was when I worked in North Carolina. I was on an expedition with a youth group, twelve kids ranging in age from 11-16 years old, and we got off course, ended up hiking Pilot Mountain in Pisgah National forest and topped out at over 5000 feet at sunset. Some of the most beautiful pictures were taken during the transition from day to night. Some of the strongest bonds were formed during the hike down when only half the groups headlamps were working. There’s a reason I have a compass with me at all times now!