Saturday, June 01, 2024

House Mountain Hike #191, 5-30-2024: Conversations at the West Bluff (published 6-1-2024; article #475)


Greetings and welcome, fellow hikers, to the first day of meteorological summer! No, I didn't hike today. Instead, Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I helped our niece, who lives nearby, move furniture around at her house. I fixed a leaky shower nozzle while there. Pepper (her dog) and Mr. Biscuits (her cat) mostly stayed out of the way. My youngest brother and his family, however, hiked Laurel Run Park, in Hawkins County, Tennessee. He called and told me.

This 67th entry in the hiking topic section recounts my 191st hike on House Mountain from two days ago. I hope that you enjoy a virtual hike by reading this article!

The Hike

That morning, I started working on the article about Molly Branch Fireflies, which I published after hiking. The sky was a crisp blue and partly cloudy. The temperature was in the 70s Fahrenheit. House Mountain called me, and I had to go!

After my 2006 Frontier and I arrived, I started hiking up the west trail at 12:35 PM. Flat rocks provided excellent stepping stones, as I navigated over the initial muddy bottom area. Only a few hikers were trekking down, as I hiked up. Seasonal growth is abundant, due to all the recent rain. Wearing short pants is not advised, unless you know how to spot and avoid all the poison oak, which grows in abundance along the narrow trail edges. The lower trail was damp only in certain areas. The four lower switchbacks were easy. I felt my oats.

After 15 minutes, I reached the first of the six upper switchbacks. I heard and saw a few birds. Thankfully, no snakes were nearby. I reached the sixth upper switchback in 10 minutes. I still felt my oats! Hiking just below the ridgeline to the west bluff took only an extra 12 minutes. I am becoming more confident and less of a “lame mountain goat!” Touching the rock at the west bluff, I marked 1:12 PM, 37 minutes to hike to the bluff. A good “pre-bionic” time would be 25 minutes.

The next section is about conversations with fellow hikers at the west bluff, where I stayed for 33 minutes. At 1:45 PM, I started hiking back down the west trail. A few hikers passed by, as they trekked up. A man and his dog are noteworthy! I had seen them before. I remember Trooper, the name of the large and friendly German Shepherd! Before I left the house, Molly (our ol' puppy) didn't indicate that she wanted to hike with me. Trooper wanted to come home with me! After that pleasant delay, I touched the trail sign, near the enclosed picnic tables, at 2:32 PM.

Conversations at the West Bluff

I thought that I would have the west bluff all to myself. I took the following photograph at 1:18 PM. The view looks southwest. The clouds were darkening, but it did not rain.

Just before hiking down, a lady, ten years older than me, arrived from the ridge trail. She had hiked up the east trail and across the ridge. Born in 1950, she looked like she was only a couple of years older than me. Recently widowed, she hikes for the views, exercise, and to just be in the woods, as I do. The passing of her husband was an obvious blow, but she is determined to keep going forward, in hiking and in life. I commended her spirit! I hope to see her on House Mountain again. I hope that I can keep up with her, if we're both hiking up at the same time!

Just as she started hiking down the west trail, two ladies, in their early twenties, arrived from the same ridge trail. They are from upstate New York and are visiting here for a few days. They were not stereotypical New Yorkers! The influence of their moral and rural upbringing was noticeable. Since both were wearing short pants, I described poison oak to them and warned them about it. None were nearby, since it isn't very noticeable past the four lower switchbacks. They were planning to hike back east to the upper middle bluff, about which they would not have known, without my suggestions. I hope that they did, took photographs, and enjoyed the view!


Only nine more hikes to reach 200 on House Mountain! I already feel the call to reach 250 hikes! What about 500? Who knows? The Good Lord does.

As I've said and written many times, “a day in the woods is better than not having been there, and it adds a day to your life!” Well, three minutes shy of two hours in the woods was better than not having hiked!

I took the above photograph at 2:37 PM. My 2006 Frontier was waiting faithfully, near the sign. Do you hear the mountains calling? If so, you must go!

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