Thermometer read 25F at 6:30 this morning, before wind chill. Back into the bag for an hour ... full breakfast, got onto the trail way too late, a little after 10.
Two hours of steady climbing later -- finally -- Apple Orchard Mountain and the FCC radar dome. Very remarkable place! The usual notes about not bringing horses or motor vehicles up the trail included a warning not to bring hang gliders. Given the likely microwave power output of those radars, I can understand why? Still, unfriendly.
Some locals on a hiking weekend were resting in a nearby stand of pine trees that -- based on AWOL's mileage notes -- called Hickory Glen. No hickories, though. Sigh.
Burnout set in on the way down, though, aggravated by two departures from the White Blaze Way. The first was intentional, trying unsuccessfully to reach Apple Orchard Falls -- but the second was unintentional, making a missed turn where a well used side trail to the parking lot on the Blue Ridge Parkway split off from the AT.
Both were a long climbs, and a difficult problem to work out where the white blazes I wanted had gone. Yes, as my father would say if Mom wasn't in earshot, where in the blazes was I? (Heh, heh.)
I aimed for Bryant Creek, but had to stop four miles short at Cornelius Creek. Thighs were giving out.
Looking ahead at the map more carefully, I see one more uphill gradient tomorrow, rising 500 feet to Floyd Mountain. More climbing in the way before I escape the Thunder Ridge wilderness area?
Cornelius Creek is a very, very quiet sunny place surrounded by mountain laurel. Good place to refresh! If I could get a network connection to get these notes posted, I would think about taking two days here.