Nantahala National Forest_Clear/ Cold_AM
I grabbed my gear from the blue green cabinet next to my bed. The house was dark and quiet as I slipped out the back door. Coffee in hand, I wandered across the rock driveway, my blue minivan came into view. Seconds later, my trusty old Honda purred to life - ready to take me one step closer. A step closer toward the rising sun.
Humming across the pavement, a single set of headlights illuminated the meandering mountain road. A handful of stars lingered in the sky as the heavens transitioned from pitch black to royal blue. Snaking upward, the road turned to gravel - I was getting close.
Stepping into the cold wind, I gently closed the car door behind me. I pulled out my tripod and walked toward the high point. Only the whipping wind made a noise. Pulling the thick hood over my head, I stared up at the 5,342’ bald before me. Named after the Red Wolves that once roamed these ancient Cherokee hunting grounds, Wayah Bald’s charred landscape no longer resembled those early times. Standing on the summit, watching the sun climb upward into the blue morning sky, the same sense of wonder that must have inspired those long ago came flooding over me. I wandered in the cold until my nose began to hurt from the biting winds. Making for home, my thoughts drifted back to the large lone canine prints I followed the week before…did they belong to the mountain’s namesake?
I was excited by the prospect.