Myself & Stu waiting out the rain in the back of my Rogue, downloading photos & video.

The past few months I have been posting gear reviews and snippets of stories about a rather epic road trip with my good friend Stuart Peck over the summer. Now I can share the whole story!

We pitched a story idea to a great regional magazine about the most dangerous hikes in the lower Appalachians and set off for a week to walk a handful of them. What ensued was over 3000 images taken, 900 miles driven, 40 miles hiked and everything we owned getting soaking wet. We took to the Great Smoky Mountains NP first for the Eagle Creek Trail in one of the most remote sections of the park. The trail follows the backside of Bote Mountain and has no less than 15 creek crossings! But the fun really started on the hike up to our shelter on the AT when we had to slog uphill for 3 miles in a pounding thunderstorm. There’s no motivation quite like lightning and thunder directly overhead to get you moving. And to top it off, I grabbed the wrong jacket. Water “resistant” does nothing when you get over 2 inches in a few hours. Note to self… always bring the OR Maximus Jacket. Always.

Our next objective was Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina. At 6684-feet, it’s the highest point east of the Mississippi River, and a great hike. But the real challenge was north a few hours drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Linville Gorge. This designated wilderness area has tons of trails, they are just not marked or maintained. We chose the Rock Jock Trail for it’s relative difficulty and short length. Well, it was a lot more than that. On the map, it claims the trail is 2.8 miles. Only there has been a wildfire in the last few years, the trail had changed and we had an older map. So 2.8-miles turned into 6-miles. Six hard-fought miles. And we got lost on a few offshoot trails. And then it rained… why did we do this again?!?!

We ended our trip at an out-of-the-way creek in western Virginia at a feature called Devil’s Bathtub that I found on the roadtrippers.com website. Not exactly dangerous, but it was stunningly beautiful, and well worth the effort to find it.

As things go in the editorial world, our story of epic danger and struggle was repackaged as a “Difficult Fall Foliage” article, so the real guts of the story were cut, along with my photos (taken during the summer). Oh well… here is what really happened!

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