The holidays are over and the New Year has arrived, along with quite a bit of snow, especially in the mountains. Despite several distractions, I finally made it out to visit a couple of wilderness trails.
The first trip was a nice walk to the falls on Jones Branch near the Nolichucky River. Fresh storm damage to the Appalachian Trail was obvious as soon as I entered the woods, with several large branches piled up and blocking the trail. Not only were there large branches, but entire trees had fallen during the recent snow storm, including a 80-foot-tall oak tree that fell right beside the trail, leaving a 15-foot divot where the roots had been, another 60-footer that fell across the trail, and a large pine that fell right in the center, blocking about 50 feet of the trail. There was also laurel thickets pushed over and across the trail, and evidence of recent flooding where the snow-melt waters had eroded certain portions. The water levels were still quite high; the Jones Branch stream was moving briskly, and water was even springing up out of the ground in places. At the second creek crossing, I had to do some slippery log-walking (something I used to enjoy) to avoid getting my feet wet.