Spring in the Black Mountains

Spring has finally sprung in the Black Mountains and, that fast, we’re all hearts-thumping, boots pounding, ready-to-hit the trails. Not that I haven’t hiked in snow, for instance, this 10-miler just a week ago: 

My friend Jana’s dog Molly, takes a break in the snowy trail.

And not that we haven’t had a few sunny days, for instance, this one out on volunteer litter pick up with the NC High Peaks trail crew:

But still–on both hikes I was wearing wool and synthetic layers. I also wore a hat and gloves half the time and contemplated strapping on my yak-trax just to get through the icy spots. To think that a year ago March, I backpacked these same trails at over 6,000 feet [view video here] and there were insects flying around in my face. Unseasonal, sure, but an intense contrast nonetheless. A few days ago, we were still seeing hoar-frost covered peaks like this, which I observed from my Airstream on a chilly 17-degree morning:

Yesterday topped out at 67 degrees and Gus and I bushwhacked over Burnt Mountain (which is really just a ridge) somewhere around the 4000-4200′ contour and connected White Oak Creek to Shuford Creek. And today hit 68 degrees and we did the Bob Creek trail…myself in a t-shirt. Later, I raked straw back from wintered grasses while wearing…a tank top. It’s the little things, isn’t it? And everyone I know in the South Toe Valley is more than ready for this turn in the weather.

Monday, I’ll head out with the volunteer Carolina Mountain Club trail crew (which I do every Monday, weather-permitting as dictated by our crew leader) to the Appalachian Trail at Wolf Laurel. I’m still packing my wool hat and rain gear, but not because I think I’ll need them–only because enough miles have taught me that you always pack for an overnight even if you’re just planing on a half day.

Meantime, what is it that I do? Oh yeah. I write. Indeed, I do. And teach and send critiques and press manager and blog and meditate. But the hiking, oh, the hiking–especially in springtime–takes precedence over all. Who says I can’t write into the night and enjoy the growing, warming daylight now that it’s finally here? No one. No one at all.

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