Barbara arrived after a somewhat more harrowing trip down I-81. Restaurant therapy was applied, con Negro Modelo. We retired to our rooms early, anxiously eyeing the wind whipping the trees around .
Other than clearing skies,Tuesday morning was much the same. We pulled in to a nearly empty parking lot at the McAfee Knob trailhead, settled our backpacks on our hips, and headed up the fire road. Two and a half hours, four miles, and 1300 feet later, I turned to Barbara and invited her to walk through the last line of scrub ... carefully.
When she stopped smiling long enough to take off her pack, she took her turn standing out on the ledge for her "license plate" photo.
|Barbara Cook on McAfee Knob|
When we were photographically satiated, we headed down to Campbell shelter to set up tents and spend the night. Extra time! So we left our bags behind and continued north hoping for a view of Tinker Cliffs, the second highlight of the area's "Triple Crown". Fading energies and buffeting winds turned us back, though. (The third highlight is a rock spike called Dragon's Tooth that can be climbed, it is said, by anyone who lacks a rational fear of heights. Of course I'm going to try -- but not this trip!)
On the way back, we waded north against a stream of NOBO --northbound thru hikers-- intent on reaching Mount Katahdin before the hiking trails are closed up north. Few had time for more than a "happy trails" greeting-farewell, but one stopped to show us a snapshot of a large timber rattler. He said he saw it about a thousand yards south on the trail ... so, we kept a sharp eye on the piles of leaves.
Second time I've been late to see a viper on the AT. Someday ... but I can wait. What worries me are the ones I haven't seen, and should have.