On top of the mountain

So this past Sunday I climbed a literal mountain.  My friend, (for 18 years now!!) Kat, and I climbed Catawba mountain along the Appalachian Trail to get to McAfee Knob.  And it was worth every.single.step.

We left her house at 5am and got on the road to get there decently early.  It’s about 2 hours and 45 minutes away from Richmond, so it’s definitely not a short trip. Between a Wawa stop and a bathroom break or two, we ended up arriving at the trailhead around 8:45 and started on our way.

The trail does NOT mess around; it starts on up right away.  And up and up and up. Brace yourself, it’s picture time.

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The trail is about 4 miles to the top and then turns around and is 4 miles down. At about the half mile point you have an option. You can either choose to follow along the AT (Appalachian Trail) or take a fire road for about 2ish of the miles.  The AT is moderately strenuous and the fire road is easy-ish.  We chose to take the AT on the way up and use the fire road on the way down. So at the half mile point we kept following the white blazes and indulged in some AT.

The trail was gorgeous.  Little bits of snow here and there where the sun wasn’t reaching, but it wasn’t cold- just “chilly”? Like a warm 40*.  Extremely pleasant hiking weather.

We even got to see a couple shelters on the way.  It was so awesome.  Lots of neat plants coming to life, and the “afterglow” of melted snow.

Then, at about mile 3ish, the fire road and AT converge again and you begin the REAL ascent to the top.  We are talking about 1000 feet over the course of a mile. And then you really start going up up up up.  Then, something crazy happened.  It looked like we had walked into Narnia’s winter wonderland.

And then….we were finally at the top. And it was breathtaking.

So, I’m pretty terrified of heights, but I had to push my limits to get a couple “bucket list” shots.  I wasn’t about to dangle my feet off the edge…but I got within 10 feet of the edge and I feel like that is pretty praise-worthy.

It was such a calm, peaceful place to be.  And we came at the exact right time. Right after we got there everyone started climbing back down so we had it all pretty much to ourselves. It was incredible. We picnicked at the top- so awesome.

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We were super glad we had chosen to take the AT up and the fire road down because we were so excited and interested in everything along the way…and on the way down we were tired and nothing was going to top the view we had seen so we more “trudged” than anything.

If you’ve been wanting to do this hike, DO IT.  I am glad I didn’t bring the kids because while they are pretty seasoned hikers, this was a BIG hike.  It was quite a climb, and it was really long.  The entire 8ish miles took us about 4 and a half hours.  We moved MUCH quicker on the way down than on the way up.  Finally got home at about 6:30pm.  It was a long, long day. But, such an awesome day.

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