Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ahhh, Deep Snow ~ A Winter Trail Hike~ Goshen Creek, to High Shoals, to Aho in Watauga

I had not gotten a good snow hike in this year.Truth is, we hadn't had a really good snow yet. This week delivered!

Friday morning was a wonderful day for a snow trail hike.
We had received about 10 inches of snow Wednesday
 The winds had died down, the sun came out and we were the first hikers on the trail. Can you see the trail?
It is just to the right of the photo, beside the straight birch tree. The contours of the trail were lost to the drifts and mounds created on the stream side boulders.
But oh the reward to be found along High Shoals Creek in Watauga County.

 These boulders were covered in snow and only the least bit of water was showing in the creek. Our hike began at the Goshen Creek Bridge off of Bamboo Road.
 My two hiking buddies Bob and Gary were game for the challenge
 And veteran trail dog Blue was eager to lead the way.
 The new bridge that was buuilt and installed this year made this passage possible. Before this, there would have been no way to cross High Shoals in the winter.
I enjoyed the patterns made by the snow and the structure.
 This photo is one of my favorites. The birches over the creek holding snow on the arch was inspiring. We supposed they might be portals, archways, streaming energy onto all who passed beneath.
 There are many forms the winter trail takes, the familiar foot tread becomes a bed of memory foam, footprints imprint and absorb into the soft cushioning snow. I tried to stay at the front of the pack, better to photo the untrodden tread.
The pack followed.
 One matter of concern that I was looking forward to encounter was this huge, ancient, birch tree arch. It has been on its side across this creek for so long its limbs have grown vertical at the top.
 This tree clears the trail by about four feet. It is a virtual nature microcosm with mosses, lichen, and air ferns growing on it well above the ground.
 Blue gives some thought to his passage ahead. A smart old trail dog hangs back to let the rest of the pack slip as we crossed the creek.
 There has been some discussion of removing the tree. But, as shown here, it is not difficult to pass under. That tree has anchored that eco system for a century. It is worth stooping beneath, humbly, in passing.
 I'll just let you enjoy some of the beauty and form of the winter trail in these few photos.
 and explore
 the familiar becomes
remarkable when transformed beneath ten inches of snow.
 After taking nearly 2.5 hours on a 90 minute trail it was rewarding to see our final bridge come into sight.
And the walk out at the end of the trail was inviting. But, not to rush along back to the modern world, time was spent reconnecting in the orchard.
Gary and Bob marvel at the memories of these trees.

 There are many old apple orchards to be discovered along the MST in Watauga.
 A mighty fine tree this apple be.

Until the next snowing, time to be going. Peace, Shelton Wilder

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