Here’s something a little different; a secret recipe. Who doesn’t like secret recipes? I’ve been doing this for years and can’t get enough of it. Thought it might be time to share it.
I know it’s not a typical trail post, but we do have to eat once in a while, right? Give this a try sometime and tell me what you think. It’s tasty! It’s healthy! And it’s packed with omega 3s, which will keep your knees strong for hiking up and down mountains.
Here ya go – a recipe in photos…
Mash up sardines.
Add some diced onions.
Add some diced sundried tomatoes.
Add some diced olives (whatever kind you like).
Add some pesto.
Spread on crackers (I like to use thin rye crisps called Finn Crisp).
Add some grated cheese – your choice (Gorgonzola goes best, but I didn’t have any).
Trail at a glance Mileage: 2.4 round trip Elevation change: 969 ft Water source: springs
Let’s do something a little different today. Well, something different for me, at least.
Last September I went to Silers Bald in the Nantahala Mountains in western NC. Don’t confuse it with Silers Bald in the Smokies. You see, there’s more than one Silers Bald.
What? Yup! It was a very influential family and that’s why they get two mountains named after them.
Actually, if we’re going to be accurate, there are three mountains in the Siler family. Fortunately, someone finally got wise and bestowed the first name of a Siler on the third mountain. Maybe you’ve heard of it – Albert’s Mountain.
Silers Bald Shelter
That’s right, Albert’s mountain is named after another Siler. Jesse Siler got the mountain in the Smokies, Jesse’s brother, William, got the mountain in the Nantahala Range – the mountain we’re visiting today – and Jesse’s nephew, Albert, got the mountain with the fire tower.
I hope this clears things up for you?
I got a chance one afternoon late in September to go out for a walk. Never having been all the way up to Silers Bald, I thought it might be nice to go visit William’s namesake for a while.
Good thing I did, too. It was the most gorgeous day of the year. You know the type, clear, cool, sunny. There was no humidity, no haze and nothing to hinder the view. It was, in a word, perfect.
So instead of writing about my journey that day, I decided to video my adventure. I’ve never done this before, so if it’s a little rough around the edges, you’ll forgive me, won’t you?
Trails Illustrated Map, National Geographic
Each video corresponds to a numbered point on the map. The Appalachian Trail is the dotted black line highlighted in orange. The yellow ribbon at the top of the photo is Wayah Road, which leads to Franklin to the right (east) and Lake Nantahala to the left (west).
The Wayah Crest Picnic Area, today’s trailhead (#1 on the map), is just south of Wayah Road. And, by the way, for those who don’t know, taking the dirt road north from Wayah Road at Wayah Gap will lead you to the Wilson Lick Ranger Station and Wayah Bald with its great stone fire tower, but we’ll save that for another day.
So, let’s go for a video walk. Whatya say?
Part 1: Wayah Crest Picnic Area – the start of our hike.
Part 2: A quick stop at a mountain spring.
Part 3: Walking a ridgeline.
Part 4: Almost there! From a forest path to a treeless mountain top.
You know that feeling you get; the one after being shut in for days due to the cold, bad weather and suddenly the sun comes out and the sky is blue and there’s not a cloud to be seen and the temperatures are inching up to the point of being comfortable and your dog brings his leash over to you and….
You get the picture, right?
The other day was one of those days. There was no way I could drown out the call of the wild. It was too loud and I had to go for a walk in the woods.
I asked my most trusted hiking companion, my faithful dog, Phyto, if he wanted to come. He must have been feeling the same cabin fever and nearly jumped out of his skin with excitement.
So, the two of us set out for the trail. That would be the Appalachian Trail, in case you were wondering.
We went to one of our closest AT trail heads, Winding Stair Gap, and headed southbound. We had nowhere particular we were going. We were just going.
Deep in the shadows of the mountains, snow was still covering the ground. Not much snow considering the temps at that elevation were around 42 degrees, but enough snow to cause you to pay attention to your footing on the steep grades.
By the time we got to the top of the ridge the temperature had dropped to around 35 degrees, but you wouldn’t have noticed. It was very comfortable. The sun was shining brightly and I was beginning to break a sweat from the exertion.
So I removed my top layer, rounded the switchback and, lo and behold, stepped into the “Crystal Forest.” Now, that’s not its official name, but it sure could have been that afternoon.
It was almost as if I was suddenly transported into a JRR Tolkien or C.S. Lewis novel and one of their magically enchanted settings.
The trees were covered in a light coating of ice, making the smaller branches appear to be made of blown crystal glass. It was amazing.
Fortunately the rime wasn’t so thick that branches were dropping on our heads. That would be dangerous! The only thing we had to worry about was the water droplets, by the millions, falling from the branches as the sun warmed things up on the western slope.
It was like a steady rain was falling; rain falling under a clear blue sky – it was a first for me.
Occasionally a small piece of ice would hit the leaf litter, sounding like a tiny animal scurrying, sending Phyto on a wild chase deep into the woods.
He always looked so disappointed when he discovered there was nothing to chase, but was quickly fooled again when the next chunk of ice fell. Instincts, I guess.
But I hardly paid attention to Phyto. I was enthralled by the scenery, soaking as much of it in as I could.
This day reminded me how important it is to heed the call of the mountains. They call for a reason.
Like us, they are a living, breathing sentient being, eager to show off, longing to be appreciated and wanting to interact with us.
I pay attention when the mountains are calling me. I’ve learned that when I do they reward me with big surprises, their changing face of beauty and grandeur and often their revelations of a deep connection to my own primal spirit.
This time it was the crystalline trees. Who knows what it will be next time, but I will go. I will go when they call.