Morning glories, and a few words about Shining Rock Mountain September 12, 2010Posted by Jenny in hiking, Southern Appalachians.
Tags: morning glories, Old Butt Knob trail, Shining Creek trail, Shining Rock Mountain, Shining Rock Wilderness
This post is going to be very odd.
Visitors here know that I ruined my camera a few weeks ago when I was wading up Lester Prong to get to the Jumpoff. It took me a while after that to get around to researching waterproof cameras and to discover that my local stores didn’t carry the one that I’d decided on (Sony Cybershot DSC-TX5). I ordered it online, and it arrived the day after I did my last hike, which was up Shining Rock Mountain.
I thought I might be able to find some nice images of Shining Rock that weren’t subject to copyright, but in fact I didn’t. And I try to be scrupulous about not lifting other people’s photos.
I’m just going to say a few words about the hike. I did the Old Butt Knob/Shining Creek loop from the Big East Fork trailhead. Here is what I liked about it:
The fragrant, enticing high-elevation meadows of Pieris floribunda—what I would call andromeda—mixed with Catawba rhododendron. I haven’t seen this anywhere else.
The eponymous quartz boulders. (Hah! How often do you see the word “eponymous” in a hike writeup?)
A slope high up along Shining Creek carpeted with Grass of Parnassus.
The pines along the Old Butt Knob trail that looked like Japanese paintings. And the steepness of the Old Butt Knob trail.
The (appropriately) shining cascades on mid-elevation portions of Shining Creek.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
The literally scores of people that I saw on this Monday of a Labor Day weekend. Ah well, what can you expect!
The unintended effects of the wilderness designation: the lack of signs amidst the warren of side paths to campsites and longer trails is only leading to new informal paths created by confused hikers—and thus the spiral of confusion continues. Shining Rock Gap is a complete mess of little footpaths going every which way.
Someone has placed three or four wooden steps at the top of the unmarked Shining Creek trail. The steps aren’t actually needed from a trail construction point of view. The only reason they exist is that someone realized it was really hard to find the top of the trail, but since it would go against policy to place a trail sign there, the steps were installed with the idea that people would perhaps scratch their head over it for a minute and then realize it must, in fact, be the Shining Creek trail (as I did).
The funny thing is, the “wilderness experience” thus becomes not one of carefully observing natural features, but rather of trying to figure out which category of human created a particular path: a camper, a hiker on the right track, a hiker on the wrong track, a trail maintainer?
Anyway, I hope you enjoy my morning glories!