Sunday, April 30, 2017

Max Patch, NC

We close the restaurant for one week each year to avoid a local celebration which finds the restaurant barricaded in such a way that no customers, employees, or deliveries can reach us. This affords us the opportunity to get away and unwind. This year, in anticipation of our forthcoming move to Oregon, we decided to hike some of the greatest hits of the AT and other nearby locations that we haven't already hiked, so we headed to western North Carolina and worked our way back north home over the course of a week.

Sunday April 30 found us rudely awakened by the alarm at 5:30 in the morning after getting to sleep late the night before. It is always a frantic business getting the restaurant battened down and ready to leave and I was hyped on adrenaline when I got home. Sleep would not come easily. We could have slept longer, but we wanted to have lunch on top of Max Patch and still have time to get into Asheville by 4:30 or 5:00pm.

We got the dogs squared away and pulled out of the driveway at 6:02am, right on schedule for our longish drive south down I-81. We noticed that within 30 minutes headed south that all the trees had leaves, where ours at home had none. The sides of the roads all the way into Tennessee and North Carolina were painted with clouds of blooming black locusts and chokecherries.

An uneventful drive saw us into Tennessee and then make an eastward turn onto I-40 just north of Knoxville headed in the direction of Asheville. Just a few minutes later we crossed into North Carolina and found our exit in the middle of nowhere headed for Max Patch. After much twisting and turning on a dirt Forest Service road, the sides of the road carpeted in blooming trilliums and geraniums (cranesbills) and overhung by blooming cucumber trees (Magnolia acuminata), we arrived at the nearly full Max Patch parking area in the gap where Tennessee and North Carolina come together.

We planned this short hike of 2.6 miles at Max Patch, our 13th hike of 2017, as a good place to stretch our legs after 7 hours in the car and an even better place to have lunch. From the parking area in the gap, you can walk directly up the hill onto the bald or around the hill, or some combination of the two. The Appalachian Trail also climbs the southeastern flank of the bald on its way north. Looking at the picture below, you can see the path leading around the hill and the one going directly up and over. We went right (east) on the trail around the hill to the intersection of the AT, turned left up the hill on the AT, walked all around the top of the hill in a big circle, took the AT down off the north side of the bald, picked up the circumferential trail to the left and walked back to the parking lot that you see below.

Annie Signs Hike Number Thirteen

Red Trillium, Trillium erectum

Wild Apple, Malus spp.

Wood Anemone, Anemone quinquefolia

Blue-headed Vireo, Vireo solitarius

A Very Tall Cinquefoil, Potentilla spp.

Annie Just Starting up the AT

Virginia Strawberry, Fragaria virginiana

Climbing the AT up Max Patch

Singing Eastern Towhee, Pipilo erythrophthalmus

Look at This View!
On Top of Max Patch

Panorama, Me Coming up the AT

Survey Marker: "MAX PATCH 1933"

Salame and Provolone Bagel for Lunch

Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) Surfing the Grass

Just a Pretty Picture of the AT

I've Seen AT Blazes on Everything Now

Field Sparrow, Spizella pusilla, Singing Away

Better View of Wing Bars, Pink Legs and Pink Bill

Mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum, in Bloom
Wow! So Max Patch was as spectacular as everyone said it would be and is one of those don't-miss places. Don't miss it if you are ever near. I wish we had more time to take a much more extensive hike in the area.

I was really sad to leave Max Patch, but we had to get to our B&B in Asheville (Carolina B&B in the Montford neighborhood, wonderful place to stay, highly recommended), and then get cleaned up for dinner. After taking the scenic route into Asheville on NC 63 (avoiding more of I-40), we ended up at the B&B just in time for a quick shower and some delicious hors d'oeuvres and a glass of wine.

We had looked forward to having a great dinner at a highly regarded neighborhood restaurant, but the food ended up being really crappy, hence no pictures. I'm afraid reviewers have been confusing quantity with quality. Oh well, we were on vacation at last after an entire year without time off, and even a crappy dinner was not going to ruin it. There was, in all fairness, plenty of beer to take some of the sting off dinner. We made the quick walk back to our room to hit the sack and get ready for our outing Monday morning to DuPont State Forest, with rain decidedly in the forecast.

Asheville, Out to Dinner

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