July 27, 2002, around 7:45 am
Beautiful! The hike to this summit and the summit itself were the most beautiful I have been to yet. The valleys just below King’s Peak in Utah were gorgeous, but this peak and the hike to it were amazing.
I left my home in Cincinnati at around 2:00 am so I could be here just as the sun was coming up because I had 4 other highpoints I wanted to hit that day. I arrived at the parking area around 7:30 am. There were probably another 20 vehicles or so parked there but I couldn’t see many people. The view from the parking area alone was quite magnificent. You could see for quite a ways and it was just hill and valley for as far as you could see. Of course, there was still quite a bit of fog covering the surrounding area, but on Clingman’s I was above it so I was looking down into beautiful, mist-covered mountains and valleys.
I grabbed my camera and tripod and headed up the paved trail. Though it would be difficult and would require someone in very good condition to push them, an individual in a wheelchair could go all the way to the summit. The trail was very well-maintained with benches every couple hundred yards for people to rest on. But, best of all, the hike was pretty. There was no trash. The surrounding area looked pristine and untouched. Periodically I passed into areas where the trees broke and the vista opened up again. I passed just a couple people as I headed up the trail.
About 2/3 of the way up the trail, I heard some rustling off to the side of the trail. I looked to where I thought it was coming from and a deer jumped out of the brush right onto the trail about 100 feet in front of me. It looked at me as I scrambled to turn on my camera and then jumped into the brush on the other side. It stayed close to the trail and met up with a friend. I snapped a few pictures of the one that I had seen cross the path but couldn’t get a good picture of the two together. This little run in with nature just made the hike more enjoyable and more serene.
As I rounded the last corner before the tower, there was a slight mist and the sun was poking its rays through the trees onto the trail. Again, beauty at its utmost. I was overcome with how pretty this area was. I snapped a few more pictures then headed up the ramp.
The view from the tower was nice, but the early morning fog was still sitting in the surrounding valleys, so I wasn’t able to see everything. But, I did spent a good 5-10 minutes up there snapping pictures and just enjoying the view. There wasn’t anyone else around. Though it isn’t an extremely high summit, I felt like I was on top of the world. Once I had taken all of the pictures I wanted, I headed down the ramp and a jeep pulled up just as I was getting to the bottom. I’m guessing he was with the forest service or something along those lines.
I headed back down the trail and passed a few more people this time. A man about my age was coming up with his dog and a couple groups of people in their forties or so were also headed up. Total time up was about 15 minutes. It took about 10 minutes to come down. I snapped a few more pictures at the bottom and hopped back into the super Civic. I was off to Georgia.
Here’s a map from Knoxville, TN:
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