Wednesday, May 23, 2012

An Easy Hike

One of our favorite places to visit along the Blue Ridge Parkway is the Blue Ridge Music Center because of its emphasis on--as the name suggests--music. But more on that in the next couple of entries.

On one of these visits, we took the opportunity to do some hiking
in the Fishers Peak area around the Center. As we drive along the Parkway on a portion of its 469 miles along the crest of the southern Appalachians between the Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks, we pass many, many areas that appealed to us for hikes. With a speed limit of 45 mph, the Parkway allows visitors time to imagine stopping alongside the road and exploring.

The Center, located near milepost 213, offers a chance to do some exploring. (Now when I talk about
"hiking" and "exploring," I'm not talking about hiking 15 miles a day along a portion of the Appalachian Trail with an 80-pound pack on my back. I'm talking about a walk along a level trail for maybe a mile or two (tops) while carrying a camera. And "exploring" is limited to finding an interesting scene to photograph. That being said, we continue.)

Just behind the Music Center was the High Meadow Trail, a 1.35 mile (one-way) trail designated as "easy."


This easy leg-stretcher began with a section along a small stream (photo #2 above). The sound of the water over a few rocks was enough to slow down the pace of an already leisurely stroll.

The rust-brown path of needles and fallen leaves was a colorful contrast to the bright green of ferns, plants, and the brilliant green leaves of the trees.

Patches of sunlight highlighted sections of these colors, adding another artistic dimension to the scenes.

Even in this stretch of the trail with a slight hill, logs had been placed to form a stairway to allow for a an easier "climb" on the incline.

During the recent spring break, students from the University of Notre Dame and other colleges volunteered to help with trail maintenance. Among the projects that were completed were: the trail was blazed in red in both directions (right), washouts were refilled with gravel, a load of dirt was spread over a low spot near the main entrance, fabric and gravel ballast was installed under the elevated walkways that cross the wetlands to control the growth of weeds, and all logs which had fallen across the trail were cut and moved.

Along the trail was this rock outcrop. The benches seemed inviting, but we pressed on.

When we reached this meadow, we decided to return on the same trail. I guessed that we had gone about half a mile at this point.

On the return walk, we caught a different view of the sections we had passed earlier.

We had the feeling of being deep in the woods as we made our way back to the entrance.

The walk was brief, but enjoyable. A nice break from sitting during the musical performances at the Center.

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