Sunday, April 8, 2012

Linville Gorge - Day 2 (April 1)

We're up at first light Sunday morning.  I begin wondering what the implications are of Brogan staying up 2 hours later than normal and waking up an hour earlier than normal.  We quickly down a champion's breakfast of coffee/hot chocolate and a Clif bar and take down the tent.

First on the agenda - a visit to Wiseman's overlook.  Great views of the gorge.  Unfortunately, the photos are a bit bleached - I forgot my polarizing filter.  We hang out here for about 20 minutes.

In front of Hawksbill, which we'd hike later in the day
The view south down Linville Gorge from Wiseman's Overlook; Table Rock to the left
Brogan looking north along Linville Gorge
Hamming it up at Wiseman's Overlook

Next up - Laurel Mountain (4,060'), just off the road on the west rim of the gorge.  There is no trail to the top; it's a summit only a peakbagger could love.  I debate whether or not to subject Brogan to this idiocy, but when we pull off the road my GPS tells me we're only 0.28 miles from the summit.  How bad can it be?  We start up through some rhododendron and blow-down.  Brogan is dubious, but soldiers on.

I am a bad father.  Next up, chainsaw juggling.
That is, until the bugs come out.  Brogan has a bit of a bug phobia, and is very annoyed by those flying around his head.  About halfway to the top, we pass a dead tree, about 15' high.  This tree is peculiar in that most of its base is gone.  I tell Brogan to take a wide berth around this thing, and this is the last straw.  Lack of sleep, the bugs, the bushwhacking and the fear of being "smushed" by a tree all combine to break the camel's back; a mini-meltdown occurs, and he asks to turn around.  It's the first time he's ever done this, so I know he's upset and immediately head down.

How is this thing still standing?
  He's still excited for Hawksbill, as there's a trail to the top and he saw how "cool" the mountain looked from the other side of the gorge.  The trail is rocky and steep.

Why take the easy way?
I was too slow with the camera to catch his crimp move with the left hand.
Success!  Now, how to get down...
At this point, I hear words that send me into a panic.  "Dad, I have to poop."  We're pretty far in at this point, and I'll spare you the conversation, but it was clear we had to get somewhere fast.  Luckily, I had stashed some TP in the backpack he was carrying.  There will be no pictures from this portion of the story.

Suddenly three pounds lighter, Brogan bounds up the trail to the summit, which was fantastic.  Lots of rock outcrops for great views. 
View across the gorge from the top of Hawksbill
Brogan at the top of Hawksbill, camera looking south.  The two peaks we climbed the day before are visible - Dogback (L) and Dobson Knob further away (R, just left of Brogan)
This little dummy made me nervous, jumping from rock to rock, oblivious to the several hundred foot drop-off just below him
After a snack and taking in the views, we head down.  Tree roots keep grabbing Brogan's feet, and a couple nasty falls onto the rocky trail result, including an acrobatic one that involved a somersault and miraculous avoidance of hitting head on rock.  At this point we decide to call it a day and forsake our last hike to the top of Gingercake Mountain.
Despite the pain of several falls, the promise of ice cream still draws a smile.
Overall, a good trip.  I'm not happy with how quickly our boy is growing up, but on the way home I do realize one benefit:  he is getting better at expressing himself.  He tells me his favorite things about camping is "sleeping in the tent with his Dad" and "roasting marshmallows."  He also enjoys adding mountains to the list that he's climbed, but not the ones that make him fall or don't have a trail.

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