Best Laid Plans? McAfee's Knob

July 28, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Y'all! Hope you're having a great week. Me not too bad. This week I want to tell you about a recent trip to the Appalachian Trail for an over night Backpacking/Photography trip. Me and my photography wingman Robert have been planning this trip for a year or longer. The trip has been planned and canceled at least twice before because of weather or some other reason. Robert is new to backpacking and ever since we have done a little backpacking this trip has been on his bucket list. McAfee's Knob is the most popular and most photographed overlook on the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian trail for those that don't know is a continuous foot path from Georgia to Maine. The trail is almost 2200 miles in length and takes up to 5  months to complete for those that dare to take it on. I love to hike and backpack but that's a little too much for me. What we had planned was to drive to Salem Virginia ( a 4 hour drive) spend the night and hike up the next morning. While on the way up set up camp and the next morning go to the outlook and photograph sunrise.  Then hike back down the mountain and drive back home. Keeping my pack lightweight was a concern. My photography gear was going to be simple. My EDC camera a Canon G7XII Point and shoot and my iPhone14 Pro. We both wanted that iconic photograph of the sun rising just breaking the horizon with a sunburst with the knob in the fore ground. Well that was the plan. It didn't quite go as planned. This is what happened.

We had set a date to go and Robert had made a reservation at a hotel in Salem. We have had lots of rain prior to our trip so checking the weather was something I did many  times a day to see what the percentage of rain was going to be. It was ranging 40% to 50% chance of rain but we were determined to go whatever the weather was going to be.  Robert was going to drive and had put his truck in the shop to get it serviced before we left.  We were planning to leave on a Friday and come back on a Sunday. Thursday came around and his truck was still in the shop and had to have some repairs done to it and parts were backordered. So the first change to plans has happened. I was going to drive. I usually don't drive because I have a really old truck (24 years old) and dependability is always a concern.  I recently got a newer vehicle so it would be a good test drive for my "Max mobile" to take. So I arrived at Roberts house at the specified time and we were off. We had a good drive with no problems and arrived in Salem on time.  Robert went into the hotel to check in. I waited and waited and he didn't come out. So I went in to find out that the hotel had problems with the hot water and only some of the rooms had it. It was too late in the game to find something else and we took the room. It was a nice room and Robert went to check the hot water. We had hot water! Whoop Whoop!  We had planned to just chill out and head out after breakfast in the morning. We both got up early and got ready to go but they didn't start serving breakfast until 7am and we were ready to go at 6. So we took off. We were only a few miles from the trail head so it only took a couple of minutes to get there. We got our packs and headed up. It was up hill all day and it was expected. The views on that first section of trail were not expected. They were Fantastic!  We had Fog with the sun breaking threw the trees creating sun rays. There was also wildflowers growing along the way. We took our time and took some shots. We made it to the shelter that we were going to stay at and set up camp. Shelters are 3 sided buildings built for through hikers to stay at along the AT. Robert set up his tent and I set up my hammock system. But this wasn't the shelter that we planning to stay at. We had miscalculated the shelter arrangements but we stuck with this one. This would mean that we would have a longer hike in the morning to get to the knob for sunrise. Well we headed up the trail. We made it to the shelter that we had planned to stay at and still had a mile and a half up and the climb got tougher. We finally made it to the top and I was soaked in sweat. There wasn't too many people up there and wasn't too crowded. Which it's known to be. We took our selfies and photos and really enjoyed ourselves. Then headed back down to our shelter .  Heading up was tough on the heart but going down was tough on my knees. My left knee started getting stiff with all of the pounding on it going down hill and it seemed longer to get down than it did going up. Maybe because of the discomfort of my knee. We finally made it back to the camp and we both chilled out while through hikers stopped to eat lunch on their long trek.  We got back around 12 noon and I had made up in my mind that I wasn't going to go back up in the morning. It was just too much for this old man to do. So if I wasn't going back up why would I stay overnight when I know rain was coming?  I asked Robert if he wanted to go up in the morning or just pack up and head back down the mountain before the storms come. He was ready to go! We packed up and as we were we could hear the thunder in the background. The storms were not suppose to come before 4 but it was 1:30. We headed down the mountain trying to beat the rain. We were both sore from all of the other hiking we did during the day.  We got just a little wet toward the end. But didn't get soaked. 

So out trip really didn't go as planned but still a success ! We had an adventure! And that was the whole point. We got some memorable photos too. Maybe not the ones we had pictured in our minds but still some good ones. Things don't always go as planned but don't let that get to you. We had a great trip and had lots of laughs along the way. I limped for a day or so afterwards but am fine now.  So adventures don’t always go the way you want but they are still adventures. Until next week get out and shoot and find your adventure!


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