6/24/15 9:11 PMw
we hiked our 4th hike in 5 days averaging 9 miles each, this one a 13.4 loop, with elevation gain of over 4,000', to La Conte peak, the highest in TN (the one they call "higher" only so if you count the 150' viewing tower they put on top of it), and perhaps in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. in 10 hours total, counting 1.5 hours at the top chatting with interesting and friendly folk. and there i popped the conception of having my next, 70th birthday there, with all friends, family, and Merkelers invited—one year from today. there being a lodge there that one must hike (or parachute) to, the shortest approach from any road being 5+ miles, and very steep. so i'll look in to renting one or more of the cabins up there. and then the conception of getting a job staffing the lodge up there. ah me, a job i would truly love to experience.
after all that hiking in these mountains over here, one can come to feel that the scenery is a tad repetitive. but this hike today was so very deeply special in quite a number of spots and aspects. a sweet rainbow falls, and following a terribly rocky creak quite a long ways, so uproarious when it rains hard that signs are posted at both the top and the bottom not to take it when the creak is full, but to take the other Bullhead trail. which is the one we took coming down, a few tenths of a mile longer, but quite surely seemingly a less steep and gentler grade.
i have never been fond of rhododendrons until today. there was a certain variety in it's prime about half way up and also down. purest white, and a close cousin with a barest pink edge to each petal. the only pink i recall ever liking. these are presumably indigenous and wild. tall, huge, and lush.
microclimates the whole way, different going up than down, different sides of different ridges. forests entirely the whole way, but biodiversity like i've never seen. oak, maple, buckeye, locust, hickory, pine, hemlock, spruce, and many i don't know the identity of.
juncos, salamanders, and numerous warnings about aggressive, dangerous black bears.
josé's tossing and turning. i guess i should turn my light out and get to sleep myself.
6/24/15 9:52 PM seattle time, 6/25 now here.