FOLLOW THAT COOLER!
Normally I wouldíve spent
last Saturday recovering.† After all, Saucony and I had backpacked with Bob across the Crest of
the Black Mountain Range on Thursday and Friday.† That trip had covered 18 miles while gaining
6500í of elevation.† However, my wife was
competing in a triathlon Saturday morning in
I ended up hiking
anyway.† Iím still training for our trip
Unfortunately the park
doesnít open until 8am.† I dropped
Christy off in
Saucony and I started our hike on the Backside Trail, which is actually a gravel road.† The road eventually ends at a long, steep staircase that provides access to the mountain.† This ďtrailísĒ only redeeming quality is views of the cliff faces along Crowders north side.† Unfortunately, even those views are marred by an ugly fence and dozens of signs imploring hikers to stay on the trail.
I reached the summit around
8:30 and had the whole thing to myself.†
Itís the first time Iíve been there without a crowd.† Although it was a sunny day, thick haze
From there we climbed to the actual summit, which hosts some sort of telecommunications tower.† From there, we headed down the parks most interesting path.† We followed the Rocktop Trail, which clings to a narrow, rocky ridge.† A bit of mild scrambling is required, and there are several nice bonus views along the way.†
Eventually the fun ended at the road that bisects the park.† At this point, I decided to add a bit to the hike.† Saucony had already finished all of the extra water Iíd brought for her, so we crossed the road on the trail leading to park headquarters.† After maybe a Ĺ mile we reached a bridge over a tiny stream.† Actually, it was more like a mud hole, but Saucony didnít care.† I let her off the leash, and she jumped right in.† I let her muck around in the mud for awhile before we headed back the way we came.
We crossed the road again, and headed back towards the car on the Crowders Trail.† This path wanders through the woods, curving around the west ridge of Crowders Mountain.† Some time later, we reached the junction with the Backside Trail that weíd passed earlier.
It was still early, so I threw Saucony a curveball.† She started to head down the road towards the car, but I had something else in mind Ė summiting twice.† Saucony was not at all amused as we headed back up the road towards the peak.† Going up the stairs a second time was a grind, as my legs were pretty dead from the previous day.† At the top, there were several groups of people enjoying the hazy view.† This time, I didnít stop.† Instead, we continued over to the Tower Trail, which is also a gravel road.† Unlike the Backside Trail, the Tower Trail has no redeeming qualities.† A boring, 2-mile descent ensued.† Saucony was dragging a bit, no doubt knowing that we couldíve been back at the car an hour ago.
I was almost at the trailhead when I encountered a group of about 25 Asians heading up the mountain.† This was a bit startling, as I hadnít really seen that many people that morning.† The most interesting thing about the group was the two young men at the back of the line toting a monster cooler.† The cooler was so big, it should probably be referred to as an ice chest.† What did they have in there?† Jimmy Hoffa?† I guess they were planning quite a picnic up on Crowders, but I canít imagine carrying a cooler that big all the way up there.† Thatís one good thing about hiking at Crowders Ė you never know what you might see!
I reached the car at noon
and headed back to
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