A note from the photographer

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Appalachian Trail ~ Cross Mountain, Shady Valley, TN {J. Commons Photography ~ Cross Mountain, Shady Valley}

Several years ago, I drove out to Johnson County to check out a spot where the Appalachian Trail meanders through a cow* field.  I didn't walk very far into the field, but I was definitely intrigued.  Today, my sole sister Deanna and I headed out there.

Trail head at Cross Mountain, just past the Johnson County line.

After figuring out my own way to open the special gate (I couldn't seem to do it following the directions) we made our way into the field.  Neither of us have ever hiked through a cow field and we weren't really sure what to expect.  We were both delighted to find that there were actually cows in the field with us!  There were only two and the big guy with the horns was, thankfully, on the other side of the fence!
Cow fields have nice, wide walking paths!

The white blaze of the AT.

The moment I realized there were actually cows in our field and I squeed with joy!

Cool barn.  This photo feels a little "Dorothy in Kansas" to me.

LOVE this truck in the field!  Before wandering out to the front of the truck, that little black cow was trying to figure out how to get in the back!


 "I don't know where this road is going to lead. . ."

"All I know is where we've been. . ."

If you have never visited Shady Valley, I am here to tell you, "It's beautiful!"

The field is dotted with these purple flowers/weeds and they are butterfly magnets.

I love, love, LOVE how you can see the flower shadow through the butterfly's wings!  So cool!

Headed to the trees.

But first - this happened!  As I already stated, the AT goes through a cow field.  It appeared as if the AT continued to the next field, but you had to cross a muddy spot.  Well, I went first and, as you can see, sunk halfway up to my knees into the quicksandish mud!  I struggled to get back out with my shoes still on my feet and after some maneuvering did manage. And the stench. Oh my word, the stench!  After I was back on solid ground we laughed and laughed and laughed!  We tried to go around the outside of it, but the barbed fence didn't allow us anyway through.  We had just decided to turn around when some thru hikers showed up.  They commented that we must have been having a good time because they could hear our laughter.  Trying to be friendly, we informed them of the sinking mud issue.  As we turned to leave, it dawned on me that there was a fence structure that lead into the forest that was, in fact, the correct way to continue along the AT!  You can see in this collage below that Deanna put together my lovely, muddy shoes, the offending mud, and the hikers behind me past the fence climb.  We laughed harder and harder and realized we need an AT for Dummies book!  And I am sure those thru hikers will laugh about us all the way to Roanoke!
(From Deanna's iPhone)

Oh, look!  The way we should have gone!

We did climb the fence and head into the forest.  We were on a bit of a time crunch today, so we went about a half mile in and then turned back towards the car.

Me taking a picture of Deanna taking a picture of this cute little fall-like leaf.  Yes, that's a selfie stick.  Stop judging us. 


More butterfly hunting.

 Thistles.  Butterfly.  Old truck.  Love.

This little one was closer to the fence, but it was a bit startled by me and kept walking further away and then turning back to see where I was.

Another great day.  Another great hike.  Today's trip on the AT covered 3.22 miles and burned a lot of calories with laughter. :)

*No cows were harmed in the making of this adventure1

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