Friday, September 7, 2012

The Other Day...I Saw A Bear?

After ziplining and whitewater rafting, we decided on a slightly less adventurous pursuit: hiking.  There were a number of interesting sounding trails in the area including part of the famous Appalachian Trail.  After looking at all the options, we settled on the Wesser Creek Trail which was described as an 8.8 mile out and back hike that met up with the AT and led to a fire tower on Wesser Bald which would provide fantastic vistas of the Smokies and Nantahala Gorge.  Sounds good, right?

We drove up a road that eventually became gravel (and wound its way through some serious Deliverance country) to where it ended, slathered ourselves with bug spray, and started hiking.

The trail was beautiful as it wound its way steadily upward along a series of nonstop switchbacks.

As we hiked, we made a point to make lots of noise in case there were any bears in the area (which was entirely possible considering where we were), and talked about how the last thing either of us wanted was to run into one - much less startle one!

 About a mile in, we were climbing a hill and coming around a corner when Mr. R&R suddenly came to a dead stop and said, "Is that...?" as he pointed to a dark, furry looking mass about 30 yards away.  My heart started hammering in my chest as I looked at the shape, and I started backing away.  We're only about 80% sure that it was a bear, but neither of us wanted to get close enough to be 100% sure since that dark, furry-looking thing was right in our intended path!
Maybe. Maybe Not.
We did the smart thing and got the hell out of there (and constantly checked behind us to make sure that the possible bear wasn't following us)!

Once we reached the relative safety of the car, we were both a little disappointed to have been denied the opportunity to hike on the Appalachian Trail, so we decided to drive over to the Nantahala Outdoor Center and pick up the AT there.

The famous white blaze...sent a few chills down my spine.
At this point, the clouds were looking a little ominous, but we decided to follow the trail North from NOC for at least a little while.  It just seemed wrong to be so close to the AT and not hike on it!  According to our rafting guide, they were expecting most of the North to South thru-hikers to come through the area in the week or two after Labor Day.

Approximately 2,047 Mile to Mt. Katahdin
Blaze and much less intimidating wildlife

Honestly, I didn't even notice the little garter snake in the above photo until I went to upload it!  The wildlife sightings on the AT were far less intimidating to say the least.  We heard some wild turkeys in the distance and spotted this little guy warming himself on a rock where the sunlight was filtering through the trees.

We followed the trail as it wound its way gently upward through the trees for about a mile before the roll of thunder turned us back.

Although I think I'll always prefer hiking the alpine slopes and sub-alpine meadows of Mt. Rainier, the AT was undeniably beautiful (at least the tiny bit I saw) and I hope to hike much more of it in the future!

Have you hugged a tree today?


April said...

Did you happen to see any of those gigantic monster millipedes? Seriously! They creep me out..about and inch wide and six inches long! BLEH!

Mary said...

Thankfully, no. Eew! Now my skin is crawling!

Delyth Edwards said...

Oh God you are so brave! I would be too scared to go hiking with all the creepy crawlies hanging around, I hyperventilate when I see a spider! lmao It looks absolutely gorgeous though!

Mary said...

For me, the "bear" was far scarier than the creepy crawlies!

Anonymous said...

Personally I'd be more scared of the turkeys!! They are treacherous creatures!! Lol

Megan said...

Awww man! That's too bad you didn't get to finish that 1st trail, but probably for the best considering the thunder! And that pesky bear!

And as for April's millipedes? Ewwww!! No thanks! haha.