After having hiked intensively on the US West Coast it was time to explore the East Coast a bit further. No, I haven’t hiked the Appalachian Trail, not yet, not this time. But my partner and me hit the Benton MacKaye Trail. This is an about 300 mile long trail that shares its southern terminus with the Appalachian Trail, intersects with it a couples of times, but then makes its way north-west instead of following the AT to the north-east. It winds its way up and down the Appalachians through Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina.
As I am still in love with the Pacific Crest Trail, I have to admit I had my prejudices about the not-so-high and not-so-spectacular mountains of the east. Endless and boring green tunnels under infinite deciduous trees of the Appalachians, now and then a quick glimpse over even more wooded mountains und rolling hills. Thousand shades of green up until the horizon. Add high temperatures and even higher humidity and annoying mosquitos all along the way – that’s what I expected. And blaming the close proximity to civilization I imagined the Appalachians full with people hiking and maybe even weirdos hanging out at the campgrounds.
But all my prejudices quickly dissolved. The Appalachian mountains are beautiful. They lack epic views and all the epic scenery the west coast offers, but they have their very own pretty charm. For example seeing spring developing is magical. All that fresh and lush green. A lot of times we were walking through tunnels of rhododendron and along gurgling creeks. However, yes, we got poured on and it is humid. But to look upon it from the bright side: you don’t have to worry about drinking water too much. And the Benton MacKaye trail is a gem: challenging, yet pretty and offering pure solitude as we only met 2 other hikers within the about 10 days we spent hiking.
Unfortunately we had to leave trail because of an injury just after we passed the halfway point, but we definitely will come back and finish that trail in these gorgeous woods.