CLINGMANS DOME

What do you do when your tent has been pitched at Elkmont campground and you’ve got a couple of hours of daylight left? You drive to Clingmans Dome! This entire weekend was about spontaneous plan adjustments and Clingmans was no different. We originally intended on driving up and hiking around midnight to stargaze (I had seen some pretty milky way pictures from here). However, according to my weather app it was going to be a cloudy night, and therefore little to no stars to see.

When we arrived at the parking lot around 6:30pm there were only a handful of spots left. The sun was still peaking through the clouds and it was way colder up there than I anticipated. Thank God for parkas! There were plenty of tripods and cameras set up at the lot and for a moment I wondered if it was even worth going up to the top. Maybe these photographers knew something I didn’t.

This is where my FOMO kicked in and I started taking some pictures of the sky. It was nothing to be impressed by though. I also had no idea what the sky was about to do. So we stopped at the restrooms real quick and headed to the trailhead.

At the base of the trail there are signs leading you in the right direction. I quickly found out why they do not allow strollers, wheelchairs or bikes on this paved trail. It’s only half a mile long, but it’s a steep 13% gradient! You’ll gain 332 ft. and break a sweat immediately. They have benches along the way and if you prepare with enough time you can get to the top at your own pace. The hike is a straight shot up. You’ll make a slight right near the end and the entire tower and walkway open up in front of you.

We did not have the luxury of taking our time and did it in one shot without stopping. Tony’s legs are way longer than mine and I tried keeping up with him. When I tell you my lungs were on fire. I mean, seriously. ON FIRE! It took us 16 minutes to get to the base of the tower.

The tower at Clingmans Dome provides panoramic views of the mountains below. You can see Tony (furthest right) at the top of the observation tower. It was really cold up there. About 20 degrees colder than lower laying areas. But the views are unlike any other we’d seen in the park so far.

Now, let’s talk about sunset. HOLY CRAP am I happy we did that instead of trying to stargaze with a poor chance of being able to see anything. The sky was so beautiful that it made me forget that we broke into a sweat climbing that steep incline. I completely forgot my lungs were on fire. I have to get the words out of my brain to describe what I saw this weekend! The best way to do it is to dig deep into my past undergrad memories and pull out every descriptor I’ve ever used in a college essay as follows:

The sky began its show by turning into soft shades of blue and barely-there pink. They were the kinds of shades found in freshly made cotton candy. So fluffy and perfect. As the shades deepened I could almost taste the sweetness of the colors moving through the sky. While at the top of the trail the sky decided rather haphazardly to turn parts of it’s cotton candy colored clouds into flames with help from the sun. It displayed bright reds and oranges burning through the clouds. The display of balanced colors between soft and sweet and brilliantly ferocious was the show of a lifetime. The sky gave us so much to see, so much to feel and demanded nothing in return…

Excuse my brain, it can be cheesy sometimes. But it’s as genuine a telling of what we saw as told by me. I’m sure the sensation of bliss and happiness was also amplified by the fact that I was with my husband and we were enjoying each others’ company. But look at these pictures!!! How could I not be?

I promise you these are not filtered in any way shape or form. No photoshop, no special lenses, no filters, just sheer beauty captured by a lucky amateur photographer dangling a Nikon from my neck.

My legs are still super sore by the way. My shins hurt real bad too lol, but it was totally worth it and I would 1000% do it again.

Here’s a video of us recorded on my iPhone 8 Plus on our way down to show you real time sky colors. Don’t mind us, we were rushing back to the car because it was getting colder by the minute.

“She knew she loved him when home went from being a place to being a person.”

E. Leventhal
Advertisements

ANTHONY’S NOSE

GPS: 41.322549, -73.975861

TIME: 1H 48M

LENGTH: 2.7 MILES

ELEVATION: 899 ft

WHAT’S UP!

It’s been so long since I’ve done a local trail! So I was really happy to drive up to the Bear Mountain area and tackle this one. It took us 1H 48M but that includes time we used to take pictures and hang out on the money spot. I’m going to have to go back and do it start to finish without picture breaks to give you a real hike time. I’ll make sure to update this post when I do!

HIKE INFO

We parked right on the road on 9D and walked up to this trailhead.

fullsizeoutput_6c9b

Here’s a close up of the Appalachian trail map from the Hudson River to Connecticut. HERE’s a great website for an interactive map for the whole thing. I have to admit I think it’s pretty cool we have the ability to hike a small portion of this hike. Maybe, just maybe, one day I’ll do one of these long trails start to end…

fullsizeoutput_6cba

So awesome to spot this trail marker 🙂

fullsizeoutput_6c9d

So… up we go. The first section is a bunch of “stairs” that are essentially very well placed rocks. We climbed for a little more than half a mile following the white trail blazers.

fullsizeoutput_6cbc

Afterwards you’ll come across this tree with three blue trail blazers. Make a right here and go up the now much easier portion of the trail. You can see Nicole and Kelly below stopping to wait for me to take my pictures 🙂

fullsizeoutput_6c9f

It’s pretty easy strolling from here on out. In the picture below you can see the trail heading towards a small pond. More on that later!

fullsizeoutput_6cbf

I totally forgot to take a picture of the junction where you need to make a right to get to the money spot. So here’s a picture from my favorite hiking blog Hike The Hudson to show you where to make the right. This junction will be where the blue trail makes a left but you’ll be making the right.

And then Boom! The money spot! Nicole took this awesome picture of me and Bear Mountain bridge. To the left of the bridge is the zoo and to the right of the bridge is the Rte 9W bridge that goes over Popolopen creek.

fullsizeoutput_6ca6

Here’s what the view looks like facing south. Kelly was in perfect position for a very patriotic picture. I love how American flags are erected at most hikes around the Hudson River.

fullsizeoutput_6cc3

Also, doggy! Really wish I would’ve been able to pet him. Doesn’t he look majestic posing for the picture?

fullsizeoutput_6cab

So on the way down we just retraced our steps. This time we stopped at the little pond we walked past on the way up and took some time for important stuff: being very silly .

fullsizeoutput_6cad

And then I spotted something.

fullsizeoutput_6cb2

I could not believe I found frog eggs. I wasn’t even sure that’s what I was looking at. But then a bunch of tadpoles swam around and we were certain they were. HERE’s a quick link for reference with pictures. We even spotted salamanders today.

fullsizeoutput_6cb0fullsizeoutput_6cb5

Like I said, retrace your steps all the way down. Or up lol. The trail goes up and down until you hit those “stairs” again. Then it’s down to the trail head and your car. I had two bananas waiting in there for me. I hope if you go you have snacks waiting for you too.

fullsizeoutput_6cb8

I follow this awesome blog for hike ideas called Hike the Hudson. If you’re interested in reading his version of this hike, click HERE. Otherwise, here are some awesome pictures we took while hanging on Anthony’s Nose. I’m looking forward to doing it again this summer.

fullsizeoutput_6caafullsizeoutput_6ca3fullsizeoutput_6cc2

fullsizeoutput_6cbe
If you didn’t use all your limbs, was it even a good picture?

fullsizeoutput_6cc6

“Let’s play hide and seek in the mountains”

-Unknown