This past Saturday after my live broadcast at Lynne's Nissan I experienced the Appalachian Trail for the first time. I've always wanted to go on a hike and I finally did it. It was only for a few hours but it was invigorating and interesting.
Our journey started at the Welcome Center at High Point State Park. with my son Dave, his daughter and our friend John. The park rangers were very helpful and provided us with a trail map and told us the free Appalachian Trail parking lot was only a 1 minute drive from the welcome center.
We parked and started along the Iris Trail loop before going left onto the Appalachian Trail itself. The trail was rocky and steep at times which made me feel like a true explorer. Beautiful Ferns blanketed the forest floor and the tall trees provided shade. Even the huge rocks we saw along the way were amazing. How many thousands of years have they been there? I drive through High Point State Park everyday and never realized how awesome it was to actually stop and hike in the park.
John was very knowledgeable about trees. He pointed out young American Chestnut Trees growing from old stumps along the trail. The story of the American Chestnut Tree is one of the worst ecological disasters of all time and I didn't know about it until Saturday. In the early 1900's a blight brought to the United States on imported Chestnut trees destroyed 4 billion American Chestnut trees in the Appalachian Mountains. Today the blight lives on Oak trees (which are resistant to it) and continues to destroy any American Chestnut tree before it can reach adulthood. So far scientists have had very limited success trying to bring the once mighty American Chestnut Tree back.
In the few hours we were on the Appalachian Trail we met several hikers who had been on the trail for months. I loved talking to them. One man with just a small backpack and a walking stick had been on the trail since Cold Harbor, Virginia.
After an hour we realized we would have to turn back soon, but not before we found a beautiful vista where we could take pictures. This was great family time and wonderful exercise. The next time we will walk along the trail in the opposite direction at High Point State Park and see where it leads us. I can't wait.
One day if I ever have the time I would like to be one of those people who takes a longer journey along the "AT." Anyone care to join me?