Sunday, May 4, 2008

Balsams & Middle Prong Wilderness

During an afternoon interlude on a research trip to western North Carolina, I hiked a section of the Mountains to the Sea trail through the Middle Prong Wilderness. Climbing up an old railroad bed built a century ago to extract timber from the extensive mountainside groves of virgin red spruce, Fraser fir, hemlocks and hardwoods, the trail leads to a series of beautiful fields on a high ridge that's over 6000 in elevation.

Much of the trail wanders through fields, lush firs and balsams, and rhododendron groves. The path itself is deeply worn in places. Here's a few quick digital snapshots from my Fuji point-and -shoot:

The views at the top of the trail were remarkable, overlooking the Middle Prong Wilderness and the adjoining Shining Rock Wilderness. Here's a sample of the panorama:

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