Monday, July 27, 2009

Max Patch or Bust....

So Sunday afternoon, after my mom and nephew left to head back home, Robin, the Rugrat, the trusty side kick, and I decided to take off and head out towards North Carolina and try our luck in finding Max Patch Meadows again. That's right I said again. We've attempted to go there 2 previous times and both times were failures. Regardless we had fun just getting out and about those two times. After a little research, making sandwiches, packing drinks in a cooler, and getting the rest of our gear together, we were out the door and on our way.

Max Patch Meadows is just over the border from Tennessee, in the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. It's just up from Harmon's Den. Those of you who have been on the AT for any amount of time or at least have studied and dreamed of doing the AT should be familiar with Max Patch. It is a bald sitting at 4,616' in elevation along the Appalachian Trail. The directions to get there have improved since our last voyage to get there and the signs once you exit the interstate (at least from the Harmon's Den exit #7 on I-40) have gotten better.

There is lots of flora and fauna to view on the trip up once you exit the interstate and head up the graveled forest service road. Tons of yellow, purple, orange, and red flowers. The rhododendrons were blooming in the gully's as we traversed the road and switchbacks on the way up. I will save all the technicals as there are plenty of sites that go over that much better than I can, such as:

Anyway, it only took us about an hour or so once we left town and got on our way. We arrived at the parking area for Max Patch around 4:30pm or so. It was a nice uneventful drive the whole way there and not a sign of rain anywhere as we traveled. However the second we parked the windshield was littered with drops. We sat for a minute debating on whether to wait or head on up. Well the rugrat and I out voted Robin and we decided to head on up. We could see several other visitors (hikers, sight seers, etc.) headed down. Our trusty side kick seemed keen to get up the trail as well so on we went. I have to say that from the parking lot looking up to the top of the bald it doesn't look like a very steep route up. Boy was I deceived. It didn't help that by the time we were half way up the trail my entire back was soaked. As a matter of fact, all of our backs were soaked and Robin's glasses were of no help as they were totally wet with drops of rain. Every once in a while the rain would slack off but as we continued up, it would start up again. Needless to say, this had to be the stupidest thing we had ever done. We know better than to go into the mountains without having rain gear in the summer. As most of you know, a storm or shower can pop up in the mountains without a moments notice.

Despite the situation we arrived atop the bald and the view was spectacular. We stayed up there for a few minutes. The rain stopped long enough for Robin to snap a few shots. I have to say it's not a complete panoramic view from one spot. You have to move from one side to the other to see everything, but other than that, it's not that bad. We finally decided to head back down. Of course the rain wasn't complete. We were completely soaked by the time we got back down. I had rain dripping from my eyebrows into my eyes and would have to wipe my brow with my hand, or would shake my head to no avail.

The funniest thing happened once we got back to the parking lot. Yep you guessed it. The rain stopped, and the sun came out. D'oh, if only we had listened to Robin. We could have went up the trail at a leisurely pace. We could have taken our time, taken the big camera and tripod and got some really good shots. Oh well, that's just our luck sometimes. Anyway we hung around long enough to pull our shoes off and don the flip flops. We got dry enough to not be dripping anymore and decided it was time to head out.

Overall, it was indeed a fun and memorable experience. We finally found the infamous Max Patch. We will definitely have to go back again sometime. I would absolutely love to go up there sometime in the winter when the meadow is covered in snow. Talk about a great place to go sledding. Anyway, enjoy the pictures. If you find you have the time, there a few cabins up there that one can rent. You'll just have to Google "Max Patch Cabins" and you should find some suitable results.

Until next time, happy trails.

Tim and the gang.

The Rugrat, the Sidekick on 4 legs, and Moi.

Robin and Tim with the Sidekick's Tail
On Top of Max Patch

One of the Views from Max Patch

The Sidekick
Ready to Head Back to the Homestead

The View from the Parking Lot Whilst in the Car
(See it doesn't look that steep now does it?)

Speed Racer Himself
(Don't I wish?)

The Sidekick, Relaxin on the way Home.
("This is a chin rest Doddy Mans, not an armrest", so says the Sidekick)