Happy Halloween!

[Snow covered 
hemlock] On October 31st, the first snow storm of the season dumped about 6 inches of powdery snow on the crest of the Smokies. This hemlock tree, located just south of the Derrick Knob Shelter, celebrates by dressing up as a snowman, an appropriate costume when the wind-chill is -9F. My attempt to hike down below the snowline that day failed, but by reaching Lake Fontana, the southern border of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, I was rewarded with these views of the mountains as the storm cleared the next morning, the first of November.

[The Smokies wearing white] [More
of the smokies wearing white]

The snow didn't stick around very long, and within a few days, life in the mountains was pretty much back to normal, at least for this toad, who was sitting on the side of the trail just north of the Nantahala River.

[A toad]
This picture was taken on November 5th, 1993.

[Ice in the
treetops] Two days later the cold weather was back, this time as an ice storm. Here is a picture looking north from Wayah Bald (which isn't - there is an observation tower). In the background, the Smokies are playing in some low clouds. This was the first mountain from which I could see Georgia.

South of the Smokies, the mountains get smaller, and the trees (at least some of them) get larger. Here is the Wasilik Poplar, the second [A big tulip tree] largest tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) in the Eastern US (I have no idea where the largest is located).

This picture was taken on the morning of November 8th, 1993. That night I slept on the summit of Standing Indian Mountain, which at 5,498 feet is the southernmost mile-high peak in the Appalachians. The next day I hiked into Georgia, crossing the border a few hours after lunch.

"...in a beech forest between Big Hump Mountain and Roan Mountain ..."

Finally, a picture taken on October 18th, 1993 in a beech forest between Big Hump Mountain and Roan Mountain. Below are the words which inspired me to stop, wonder, and take the picture.

[A fork in the

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

by Robert Frost

For descriptions of other parts of this thruhike, see Chuck's Thru-hike page

Photographs and text by C. W. Magee. HTML by C. W. Magee and Kelly Jo Garner

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