For the 2nd day hike of the New Year, I drove to the Nolichucky Campground and began walking into the ‘Jones Branch’ valley on Unaka Mountain. Being one of the closest access points for the Appalachian Trail, I go there quite a lot. The weather was incredibly warm for January, and the ground was quite wet from an early rain. The clouds were thick and gray. I was happy to see a bit more water in the creek than the last time I had walked up through there (it was nearly dry).
In my mind, I had sort of planned to walk out to the ‘Jones Branch Overlook’ and get a nice visual of the valley and the mountains beyond, but while I was walking up the mountain into ‘Curly Maple Gap’ I realized how unlikely catching any views from the overlook would be, as the clouds were very thick at that time. Visibility was only about a hundred yards, so I decided to stop at the shelter and have a snack break. (more…)