Yes . . . . . . . it’s still cold, but alas we enjoyed it with a beautiful hike today! The weather was forecast to be the best today for all of this next week, so we decided it was obviously the best day to enjoy our Christmas hike. So after lunch, off we went, heading to our destination, Laurel Falls and the fire tower beyond there on Cove mountain. The drive through the park was simply beautiful as we went merrily on our way around the winding road. Following alongside, the Little River was quite beautiful, showcasing its emerald colored water and numerous, cascading rapids!
A half an hour after leaving the house, we arrived at the trailhead for Laurel falls. We got suited up and started up the trail along the mountain. A bit later, we came to the gorgeous Laurel Falls and it was quite lovely as the sun was lighting it nicely, and few icicles still adorned it. Amazingly, no one else was there, so we were able to enjoy it all to ourselves and get a nice photo of the two of us in front of it. We then left the nicely kept path and the sea of humanity behind as we started up the rocky path beyond. From there on out we had it to ourselves for the most part. Since it isn’t a highly traveled trail and because of the storms we’ve recently had, I was finally able to do some volunteer trail maintenance as Wes and I had to clear large limbs and debris from the trail as we made our ascent.
Along the way, we saw a variety of interesting and some quite strange looking types of mushrooms. One in particular was most bizarre in appearance. It looked like it had been frozen and it had left it in a very shiny state, giving it almost a glass-like appearance. There were several other orange, glob-like fungus specimens along with plenty of shelf fungus scattered about the trail. After rounding one curve in the trail, we came to what appeared to be a forest of sleeping ferns. Hundreds of soft, dark green ferns covered the forest floor, and all appeared to be in a state of peaceful sleep as their graceful limbs lay outspread on the ground. It made one want to walk very quietly and softly, as they passed through, being careful not to awaken them from their peaceful slumber! The moss was in full splendor with its brightly colored green patches, inviting me, even on a cold day, to stop, remove my very warm mitten and tenderly caress and feel its amazing soft form. Alas, I just cannot resist petting moss it seems, no matter what!
Scattered patches of snow became much more frequent, the higher in elevation we went. We also started seeing more frost encased trees, which at one point became what seemed to me, an enchanted frost encased forest!! It was truly amazing to behold, with the sunlight streaming through it, illuminating every frost lined limb and leaf. The icy, white tops of the encased trees were a glorious sight indeed, paired against the brilliant, royal blue sky above! At this point, we noticed that the frost was just beginning to fall off in little, tiny bits and pieces, and by the time we reached this section once again, on the way back down, enough frost had fallen to give the appearance of what I deemed “frost snow”. It was a most strange looking site, and honestly something that we’ve not seen before!
The sunlight kept us on the warm side as we climbed the trail until we reached the top, where the fire tower is located. You can’t go up in the tower, but from the lower stairs it afforded a nice view. We looked about and found a nice, big log in the sun, and decided this was the best place for our snack of almonds and yes . . . dark chocolate! Being refueled, it was time to begin our descent. As the sun began lowering behind the distant mountains, it became colder quickly. So as you can imagine, our descent time was much quicker than that of going up! Only a couple of stops were made to enjoy some beautiful vistas of the mountain ranges on our way down, with the sun was hitting them perfectly, giving them that amazing soft, lacy appearance that they have in the winter months. By the time we had finally warmed up on the return drive, it was time to get out once again, and enjoy our traditional hiking meal of pizza, at our Pizza Hut here in Townsend. And as always, it was delicious!!
Fresh off the easel: we’ve both finished a couple of our commissions this past week. One was a portrait miniature commission that I did. The other is an 8×10 commission of the old fort. Currently we’re painting on miniatures for the upcoming Gallery One’s 20th Annual Masterworks in Miniature show and another larger commissioned painting of a winery in Italy.
I hope that you are almost ready for Christmas, as it’s almost here!
Until next time ~ Rachelle 🙂