THERE’S RATTLESNAKES AMONG US: BACKPACKING TO WOLF LAUREL TOP

Brett (aka Therm Rider) and I start the hike at the Byron Herbert Reece Trailhead which gives us a bonus 1.7 mile hike this afternoon. We reach the Appalachian Trail after a gradual climb of 0.7 miles.

After a mile descent, we meet up with Ken (aka Beer Run) at Neel’s Gap. He’s been watching our packs and the 20 bikers that rolled in to the parking area this afternoon.

Bears are active and aggressive in this area. Parts of the Blood Mountain Wilderness have mandatory bear canister rules in effect.

Friends of ours camp nearby tonight and have bears wandering in their camp near Preacher Rock.  They opt to hike out at midnight, but our encounter is less dramatic.  We only find an angry rattlesnake in the middle of the trail that quickly slithers off.

Fortunately, Ken leads the way and hears the rattle well in advance. Brett and I are rocking out to iTunes to finish a humid and 817′ climb of Levelland Mountain. We hear nothing in advance of the encounter. Let that be a lesson to you!

Then we hike on and after another two miles make it to Wolf Laurel Top. Wood is scarce and there’s no water on the summit, so we make a run to a spring at Baggs Gap – but the views are worth the effort.

Then we settle in at camp for the night and watch the sunset behind the trees. The temps are dropping to the low 40’s tonight, and the bugs have finally cashed out for the night.

The next day it’s a misty mountain hop. We are socked in with clouds and everything we own is wet. Yet we haven’t really had much rain all night.

But the hike out is cool (and foggy). It’s kind of nice to have this weather in early June.

And we are met at Neel’s Gap by Brett who got a 30 minute jump on us and hiked an extra 1.7 miles to get the car. Brett meet us at the Walasi-Yi Store around noon.

Taking one for the team – thanks, Man. All said a good trip and no bears for us! I’ll take a rattlesnake any day.

Click here for more info on this hike!


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