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Backpacker Sunrise



Appalachian Trail Sunrise


            Over the November 1 weekend around 2003 Will McElwee and I backpacked the A. T. from the Yellow Mountain Gap, which is the same as the Overmountain Victory trail gap, to Big Hump Mountain.  This is the section that I call big grassy balds.  It was quite pleasant in terms of both weather and logistics.  Out trail mileage was only about 8 miles, but the big altitude gain made it a sufficient workout. 


The temperature was abnormally warm for this time of year.  As usual, it was quite dry.  The spring in Bradley Gap was at the lowest ebb I can ever remember after many years’ of trips here.  We had nice sunshine the whole time. 


We both anticipated a casual trip so we packed light.  Since the last half-mile hike up the north side of Big Hump Mountain to the camp site is one of the tallest on the whole A.T., light was most certainly right.


Will was enthralled with his first visit to this scenic area.  We had several 360 degree views from Yellow Mountain, Little Hump Mountain and Big Hump Mountain.  I was enthralled with the views of Grandfather Mountain. 


We passed maybe a half dozen other hikers and backpackers.  Considering the accessibility of this section and the wonderful weather, I was surprised we did not see more persons.  I will not bore you with the details, but I got to play Ranger Bob and give trail directions two or three times. 


At the time I was in the process of re-establishing my Blue Ridge Outings newsletter – which is now this web site!   Towards that end I have recruited Melissa Taylor with Taylor Business Products to help me design a logo.  We decided to use a photo of Grandfather Mountain as the center of the logo.  Most of my prior photographic efforts had concentrated on close up pictures of the several individual peaks on Grandfather, like Calloway, McCrae and Attic Window.  This A.T. trip put me at about the same altitude – 6,000 feet – and across the Banner Elk / Newland valley.    I was able to get several long distance Grandfather photos with a nice silhouette effect. 


Then came the nice surprise.  With nothing better to do, Will and I went to bed about 7 p.m.  Totally by luck, I awoke before dawn and looked out my tent door.  There to the east, directly in line with my view out the tent, was a brilliant clear sunrise coming up behind Grandfather.  I waited until the sun had just peeked over and made an orange accent, then snapped the shutter.  It was the last frame on my last roll of film. 


I kept my fingers crossed until the developed pictures arrived.  I hoped the photo would be good enough to make into the Web site logo.  Unfortunately, the resolution from my small camera was not good enough.  The logo eventually came from another trip with another camera.  But that photo is the last one in the slideshow of this trip.  It is still one of my favorites.

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