Sometimes it’s nice to have a day without drama. Just nice weather, a smooth trail, and pretty views. This was that kind of day, and I’m looking forward to many more.

Mandrake, Rockhoppper, and I left the campsite together, and spent much of the morning hiking together. Usually that would not be the case, but Rockhoppper is battling a cold which slows her down enough so that I can keep up with her. It was a really pleasant morning hike, taking us through balds, meadows, and over Big Butt Mountain (again, I don’t name them, but I didn’t even see a crack).

Appalachian Trail

Beautiful Views

Appalachian Trail

Later in the day it started to drizzle rain, but it wasn’t too bad. Approaching the gap at Rector Laurel Rd, we started to see signs for an undocumented Laurel Hostel. By about the third sign, the beds, shower, wifi, and food advertising was starting to have its desired effect of creating demand, but we managed to resist and continue on.

Appalachian Trail

Rector Laurel Rd Gap

The one big climb for the day was 1,600 feet from Rector Laurel Rd to the summit of Lick Rock. For most of this hike, I have been walking through leafless hardwood forests where the ground is covered with dead brown leaves. Well, the climb up Lick Rock took us up through a green, verdant valley complete with countless small waterfalls. It was quite a shock to my senses, and the hint of the coming spring made me completely forget that I was climbing a mountain.

Appalachian Trail

Green Valley

Appalachian Trail

More Green!

Appalachian Trail

Spring is on the Way

Appalachian Trail

Solid Until Chuck Norris Came By…

The climb down was pretty uneventful as I returned to the standard hardwood and rhododendron scenery of which I have become accustomed. Sometimes I feel like I deserve an easy day, even if it comes with a little rain. Tonight I’m staying near the Hogback Ridge Shelter, and even though I was expecting there to be a little bacon here, I’m settling for another dehydrated meal. Going to get some sleep for what should be an easy 10 miler tomorrow.