Ahh, there's so many areas that I still haven't explored, including the Southern Nantahala Wilderness, which has escaped my eye up to this hike. The Standing Indian Backcountry Area, along with the Southern Nantahala Wilderness, have both the highest mountain south of the Smokies and the headwaters of the famed Nantahala River. The greenery was superb, when I went here, with few rocks even at the summit. Although the better known Albert Mountain has a fire tower and beautiful views, I decided to tackle the higher and less-visited Standing Indian Mountain, which rivals Albert Mountain in terms of views. There's many ways to access Standing Indian Mountain, although I chose the least-used one. Little did I know how hard it would get. This hike occurred on Saturday, May 25th, 2014. My plan was to park at Standing Indian Campground, and follow the Lower Ridge Trail (#28) all the way to the summit of Standing Indian Mountain and its two overlooks. I would return the same way.
There's wilderness even in Alabama. In an area of low-elevation ridges and long valleys lies the Cheaha Widerness of the Talladega National Forest. While this is only a mini version of the mountains further north, the Talladega National Forest has numerous hiking trails, with many leading to grand views. While this wilderness is not as "wild" and rugged as the ones in Georgia and North Carolina, it still isn't an easy hike. This hike occurred on Saturday, May 17th, 2014. My plan was to drive up the Talladega Skyway to the Cheaha Wilderness Trailhead. I would hike the Cave Creek Trail to the Pinhoti Connector, follow the Pinhoti Connector to the Pinhoti Trail, and follow the Pinhoti Trail back to the parking lot. Along the way, I would stop at McDill Overlook for what was clearly the most beautiful view I have seen in Alabama, if not one of the most beautiful views I have seen in Alabama and Georgia combined.
Blue Ridge Parkway: Sam Knob - Flat Laurel Creek - Chestnut Bald Loop Trail, Brevard, North Carolina
The Blue Ridge Parkway has some of the best hiking destinations in North Carolina, and this is only the second time I've been there (after Mount Pisgah three years ago). The Black Balsam/Sam Knob area is a small triangle between two wilderness areas and the Parkway. The views are grand from the whole hike, and many mountain tops are treeless. According to what I've heard, Sam Knob originally was only grass and rock, but it is being gradually covered up by brush and bushes. The views are incredible, nevertheless. This hike occurred on Saturday, May 10th, 2014. My plan was to take the Sam Knob trail from the Black Balsam Trailhead. At the junction with the Summit Trail, I planned taking the Summit Trail to the top of Sam Knob, and then go back down to the Sam Knob trail, and down to Flat Laurel Creek. After Flat Laurel Creek, I planned taking the Flat Laurel Creek Trail to the Little Sam Knob Trail, and from there, follow the Little Sam Knob Trail to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Finally, I planned finishing by taking the MtS to the Art Loeb Trail, and following the Art Loeb Trail to Black Balsam Road. The last part of the hike would be a road walk on Black Balsam Road.
The Cumberland Trail is a beautiful trail. While it is not fully completed yet, each of its sections is quite beautiful, and I enjoy each of my hikes along the trail. The Cumberland Trail follows the Cumberland Plateau in Central Tennessee, and it has both waterfalls and scenic views. The unique geography of the Cumberland Plateau always makes the hikes interesting. There are dozens of small but steep gorges, and there's rocks everywhere. This hike occured on Saturday, May 3rd, 2014. My plan was to hike a portion of the Cumberland Trail in the Laurel-Snow Pocket Wilderness. I planned visiting Laurel Falls and Bryan Overlook, and then go up the opposite side of the gorge to Buzzard Point Overlook. While there were a couple unexpected things throughout the hike, my plan got fulfilled.
Year 1: 540.0 Miles
Year 2: 552.3 Miles
Year 3: 518.4 Miles
Year 4: 377.1 Miles