There is deep magic in the Appalachian mountains.  A deep, ancient magic that you can feel when you sit to meditate among the bird song in the mornings.  These are old, old mountains.  Totally unlike your brash, young Alps: these mountains have been softened by time and weather, and often you don’t rise above tree line even at the summits in these Southern states.

In fact, there seems to be two different varieties of mountain top recently, as the Appalachian Trail meanders around the border between North Carolina and Tennessee.  Either you arrive at the summit to find huge, impressive monolithic, craggy rocks, presumably carelessly left there by a passing glacier millennia ago…

…Or you emerge onto what appears to be an English meadow in the Summertime…

The Americans call these meadow mountaintops without trees ‘balds’, which is an ugly name for beautiful places.  In fact there’s been an explosion of beautiful places recently, with our elevenses often taken near babbling brooks, and enchanted looking paths and bridges all over the place.

Of course, it’s not all been smooth sailing this week, it turns out that being chased over a huge, high, exposed bald ridge line by a thunderstorm is a little bit too exciting…

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However we did make it over in a struck-by-lightening-free fashion, despite my dramatically falling bottom-first into a muddy puddle halfway up. And there were huge sighs of relief all round.

Location-wise, we’ve finally stopped flirting with one state then another and made the firm move into Tennessee.  We passed the 300 mile mark a week ago, and tomorrow will hit 400 miles. Which seems so unlikely.  I do stop sometimes and think about how far we’ve walked, and I find it quite startling.

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Our daily mileage does seem to be increasing quite naturally though; about 8-10 miles a day was exhausting in the beginning, and now we merrily do 15-18 miles a day. I find this quite startling too.

In wildlife news, bears are still conspicuous by their absence, but I’ve been enjoying gleaning some local wildlife knowledge from passers-by.  One older gentlemen we met on a mountain told us to look out for a type of flower called a ‘Painted trillium’, that only flowers at elevations over 4,000 feet (for passers-by chat quite extensively to strangers out here), and we got very excited to find one on Max Patch…

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And a couple we chatted to gathering water told me that the little birds we’ve been calling ‘Appalachian fan-tailed peepers’, are really called ‘Juncos’.  I refuse to make the switch though. Peepers they shall remain.

Today we’re taking a much anticipated day off, to lie around in the sunshine and allow knees and feet to recover.  It transpired though, that the only room this lovely b&b had available for tonight was the one with the huge hot tub. What a shame… 😊

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Next stop Virginia (if we can manage to tear ourselves away from here!)

Pup and Pan

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