This two-walk walk is a good one for an early-spring, post-rain trek, given the presence of falling water, moist spots for early wildflowers and the open, pre-leaf views going up 4,001-foot Flat Top.
All three perspectives provided at least some reward on this brisk, increasingly blue-sky day. The falls had a healthy, noisy flow. The Greatest Day Hiker Of Them All paused maybe 20 times during the walk to move leaves, inspect new shoots and occasionally quiz her hiking companion, who was maybe-two-of five on identifying. And on the way up, views onto Harkening Hill to the west and out onto the piedmont to the east were frequent.
The walk up the mountain that the AT guidebook talks about Thomas Jefferson climbing at age 72 is a rewarding one – nicely switch-backed till near the top, where things get rocky and steep, and where there are several faux summits before you reach the terrific views from both the western and eastern rock outcrops at the true summit. One of those false summits was recommended to us pre-hike by son Carl, whose propensity toward photographic memory for hikes manifested itself with the advice to look out for Pinnacle Rock and its gnarly old evergreen, which we did find.
At the true summit, The Day Hiker and her rock-rookie puppy headed immediately for the eastern overlook; I took a quick view westward before joining them on the eastern overlook, where we were surprised to have the big rock to ourselves on this pretty day. Cookie explored it to every edge and precipice, causing her mistress to reach the edge of panic several times.
The air was sufficiently clear to see the city of Bedford fairly clearly. The Bedford reservoir is the most immediate and prominent feature of the view. To the north, Apple Orchard Mountain is prominent, and to the south, Sharp Top's sharp, rocky top is clear and imposing (though about 125 feet shorter in elevation than Flat Top).
On the walk back down, six-month-old Cookie confirmed her readiness for full-distance hikes with a sustained friskiness that manifested itself in off-trail runs and explorations, and in a half-mile or so of repeated taking of Gail's hiking pole into her mouth, to the extent that for many steps at a time, the pole served as sort of a stiff, voluntary leash for the wacky puppy.
March 29, 2009