It was October. The long awaited season of autumn was upon us and we were ready to hike.
We packed up our rucksacks with camping gear and set out for the East Tennessee - North Carolina border. We were bound for one of the most scenic stretches of the Appalachian Trail that goes through the Unaka Range.
After five hours in the car we arrived at Mountain Harbour Hostel where we camped for the night. In the morning we hitched a ride to the trail head and set out for our hike.
Walking through this part of the Appalachian Mountains in any season is always a treat. In May of the previous year we hiked the same section of trail and had panoramic views every time we crested a bald. This time the weather had other things in store for us.
Visibility was low and the fog was as dense as I've ever experienced in the mountains. Hiking through fog is incredible. We all remained quite damp, but we never overheated. And although the views from the balds were gone, we had the feeling of walking through the depths of Mordor. It was like being in an abandoned world, eerie and magical all at the same time. We didn't meet anyone on the trail the first day until we made it to Overmountain Shelter.
We camped for the night in our tents at the shelter site. It rained quite a bit, but our spirits were high. We enjoyed jambalaya with summer sausage and plenty of dried fruit - my family's personal go-to trail foods.
We enjoyed the sunrise in the morning and hiked out after we took down our soggy tents. On our second day of hiking we met an owl perched on a tree limb, only about four yards off the trail. He let us get a decent look at him before he soared over our heads.
We still had a bit of elevation to gain, and it remained foggy, but since we were hiking a loop we had new views that lie ahead. Weather in the mountains can change drastically in minutes. We got to enjoy about a half hour of partially blue sky and sunshine before the clouds rolled in again.
I won't lie, the last two hours of this trail is always challenging. The trail turns into climbing down small boulders (not pictured) that shake your joints to pieces. Even though it's tough, it always worth it. Can't wait to get back to this trail!