I set out early with two coolers full of sandwiches, sodas, and fresh fruit to leave on the AT for the hikers. It's peak season for through hikers right about now which means lots of hungry hikers in the woods. As soon as I set out, I noticed most of the back roads were littered with debris and washout from the storms the night before. As I approached the Parkway entrance, I saw the barricade up and the southbound lane was closed. I felt like a knucklehead for not checking on the road conditions before I left home. I was not only disappointed to not get onto the Parkway, but my main concern was what to do with all this food?! I turned around and drove in the opposite direction toward the Peaks of Otter to give myself some time to think. I needed to figure out where else the trail crossed the Parkway so I could leave these coolers for the hikers to find. I also mourned the fact that I couldn't travel to my favorite overlooks and watch the fog on the mountains this morning.
It was a peaceful, solitary drive and I soon remembered exactly where I saw an AT sign at a road crossing last year. I turned around at the Peaks and headed back to the spot from my memory. Sure enough, there was the AT sign and a little parking area. There was a footbridge with a decaying log off to the side that proved to be the perfect spot to leave the coolers. It would also be easy for me to come back to retrieve them at the end of the day. The water was rushing swiftly down the mountain and under the bridge. Off to the left was an entire meadow of maidenhead ferns! I've never seen a whole crop of ferns like that. The trail appeared well traveled and I was happy to leave some things the hikers might enjoy.
On my return trip later in the evening, I arrived only minutes before another storm broke loose. It was dusk but the thick clouds and fog made it look like night. This time I quickly ran down the slope and over the footbridge, making two trips to retrieve the coolers. All but one sandwich and three oranges were gone. I think the cans of soda on ice were really popular : ) I forgot to leave a garbage bag and someone thoughtfully left a plastic bag tied to one of the coolers. Everyone who followed left their trash in it. The AT hikers are the most conscientious people about not littering the woods. (They are much more considerate than the locals who throw trash out their car windows everywhere.) So, all in all it was a pleasant bit of driving and I am happy to think a few hikers enjoyed a hearty sandwich and an icy cold soda on their hike today.
|It was hard to find a clear view without getting on the Parkway.|
|Appalachian Trail Crossing|
|Trail magic : )|