Appy Trails To You

There is something I want to show you. It is this rock stairway carved into a mountainside at an exit along the interstate highway that leads from my house to Asheville. This is located at an exit just inside the Tennessee state line before crossing into North Carolina. We have stopped at this exit several times looking at the flora and fauna. There are no gas stations here, no fast food joints, no putt putt golf ranges, no houses, no sign of civilization at all. The road on this side of the highway is not even paved. But there is this stairway of rocks with a hand rail leading up up up the mountain. It was a puzzlement for the longest time.Until we noticed this sign. This is part of the famous Appalachian Trail. This is a hiking trail that is two thousand one hundred seventy five miles long, (3500 kilometers) running from Georgia to Maine. For more information about the trail click here. Would you like to come along and do a little trail hiking?Let’s begin by climbing these rock steps. These are not concrete made to look like rocks, these are real rocks, and a little slippery for it has rained here recently and there are some wet leaves so watch out. Not deterred by the daunting steepness up we go. Maybe you should hold on to the guardrail just for safety’s sake. And don’t look down to the left.At the top of the steps is this weathered wooden sign with helpful information such as the distances to lean tos, or shelters and gaps where the view should be spectacular, especially now during leaf changing season. I recognize Max Patch Road as one of the roads we take to go to Christopher’s cabin. The terrain here is very similar to his small piece of heaven.Following the trail we can look down and see our car beyond the sign we just passed. We are really up high already. Honestly we are not prepared for hiking at all, we are not even wearing a jacket or carrying anything besides the camera, although I did think to slip my cell phone in my pocket in case something happened. Did you remember to bring yours? I’m pretty sure mine is fully charged, but I did have a conversation with Semi while she was tailgating at the Penn State football game and you know how we can talk.Looking out over the mountains we can just make out the interstate highway. We are quite close to it and can even hear the trucks as they go by. It is that white/gray strip in the middle of the picture running horizontally. We are so close to the the twenty first century looking that way, but turning towards the path upwards we have stepped back in time.Can you even see the path? A few more fallen leaves and it would be hard to make it out. Looks like we are going to have to go single file for now. Would you like me to lead the way?The path goes around that tree stump. That would have been a good grab hold while the tree was still living. Maybe that is what happened to it, one too many human hands wore the bark away over time grabbing to help with the footing. Speaking of footing, are you doing allright back there? Tree roots and stones can make you trip if you don’t pick up your feet. No shuffling now.Oh look at that pretty little maple with the pinky leaves. Also look how the path is slanting down toward the precipice. I think it is getting more narrow. There is a really good book about a fellow who walked the trail and wanted to record his journey called “A Walk In The Woods” by Bill Bryson. Funny thing about that, he decided not to hike the part of the trail that went through Tennessee, the part that we are on right now! Something about being afraid of what he might meet up with. Looking up into the treetops we are feeling just a teensy bit vulnerable. So glad to have you along. Could this be one of those what was I thinking moments? Maybe it is time to go back. We don’t even have a jacket, I see you don’t either. Let’s turn around. Did you hear that noise? I see you are not wearing hiking footwear but your sneakers are better than these ballerinas. Yes, they are very cute and they go with everything, but the soles are a little slippery and the way back is all downhill, steeply downhill. Watch your step, we will just go real slowly. Best not hold hands either, if I fall I will drag you down with me.Uh oh. Someone slid right here and that is a long way down. Good thing we can see the steps, just a short distance away.These steps are a little more treacherous than I remember when we went up them. I had better put the camera on my wrist with that little woven bracelet thingy. One step at a time. Almost there. Isn’t this fun? Now you can tell your friends and family that you hiked the Appalachian Trail. You don’t have to volunteer that is was just a few feet, but it was really fun, wasn’t it!Whew! Okay we are down now. I like to talk about happy things as a diversion when things get a little scary. All is well now. We will get back into the car and head towards Knoxville and on to our home sweet home. And garden.Greeting us at the homestead was the lovely muhly, still showing quite a bit of color. Thanks so much for keeping me company during that little adventure. It would have been much more frightening once we got up into the trail where we could not see the car or highway or anything if you were not along with me.
The title of this post is based on the theme song from The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans television show, “Happy Trails To You” written by Dale Evans Rogers.

This entry was posted in Road Trips. Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Appy Trails To You

  1. linda says:

    Good morning Frances! Thank you for taking us along hiking the Appalachian Trail. It felt like being in the middle of a wilderness. The views were so pretty, and I love the smell of fall in the forest.

    I’m glad I had my sneakers on! As cute as your shoes are, I was concerned you might slip on the way downhill. Coming back down those stone steps was a bit scary!

    Hi Linda, thanks for hiking along. That place where someone slipped is at the end of a steep slippery part of the path, you are going faster than is wise for there is a ninety degree turn right there, I did slip a little!

  2. Cindy says:

    That’s just what I needed to wake me up, thanks for the hike! All I kept thinking is, hey, my brother’s been there, walking that same trail – he walked the whole thing a few years ago. I have to admire him and think he’s nuts all at the same time.

    Hi Cindy, a brisk hike in the morning will wake anyone up! That is so cool that your brother did that, he must be a determined fellow for it was daunting just for the short way we went. Now you can tell him that you were there also. ;->

  3. Gail says:

    Frances, That was a beautiful walk! Thank you for taking us along….if I stay and write more… traffic will be unbearable! Love the Muhly and will soon be able to see it in person! Gail

    Hi Gail, come one down! I promise not to take you on any hikes other than the mountain climbing on my back slope!

  4. tina says:

    Fun but a bit dizzying as it looks very high going up AND down. Glad you made it down safe. Wow, can’t believe you attempted it with those ballerina shoes. Whew!

    Hi Tina, glad you had fun, it was a little scary with those shoes especially!

  5. Dave says:

    Hiking the trails near the Smokies is probably the thing we miss the most about living over that way. The hills, trees, and trails are so special over there. Especially in the fall. Those steps are really cool, I wish I had the rock to build one of those on our slope. Thanks for taking us along!

    Hi Dave, that is a wonderfully beautiful part of the world. I should have taken a photo of my foot in the steps, for they were huge. You don’t get the perspective in my shots of the steps. I guess they were made for great big feet in hiking boots. ;->

  6. Marnie says:

    That was a nice walk. I remember the lovely scenery of North Carolina. The mountains are a magical place.

    Hi Marnie, thanks. We have always been smitten by that area, too.

  7. Randy says:

    What a wonderful little adventure we had… but next time can we stop half way up the stairs. I’m not use to all that physical stuff. LOL Thank you for a beautiful trip.
    I went to Christopher’s page and saw the cabin… one day I will also have my little piece of Heaven.

    Hi Randy, thanks for joining me. Those steps were very steep! His cabin is so cozy and wonderful in its setting. Truly heavenly.

  8. Hi Frances!
    Thanks for your tour in one of your suroundings.
    It is fun to se not only your garden, but how it looks in some parts of USA.

    Hi Ken, thanks so much for appreciating that part of our land. It is very special and unique and needs to be shared.

  9. Siria says:

    Good morning Frances! That was a wonderful surprise hike. I loved it, but was very worried about you being unprepared in those cute shoes. Thank you for taking us there! I’m glad you made it safely down those steep steps. I can’t remember who posted lately about getting up and having their coffee with you as they read your blog, but there were always others who woke earlier and posted. I also wondered if I would ever get to be the first one to post, but can never seem to get to my computer first thing in the morning….too many other things that need to get done first, not to mention that I don’t rise as early as some of them. But this morning I am not too far from the top. :)) Have a great day and enjoy your beautiful garden.

    Hi Siria, thanks. Some of us are very early risers whether we want to be or not. Don’t worry where your comment appears, for with wordpress they are all displayed together, for all the posts, in the order they come in. It is easy for me to answer them with little chance of missing one, I hope! I am glad to be a part of people’s coffee time, that is one of my favorite times of the day. ;->

  10. That was a wonderful little trek! I always tried to get my dad to stop the car as we drove through TN on our way to FL, but he never would. I was always enchanted with the scenery, the beauty of the mountains & the magic of the waterfalls. Thanks for letting me do so vicariously.

    Hi MMD, thanks. Why is that men won’t stop? The Financier is the same way. We finally stopped at this exit the first time after we had passed several by. I had to do a lot of sighing and also mention that this was the last National Forest stop before getting to civilization. After the first stop, he was happy to stop here. There is a big waterfall on the other side of the interstate too.

  11. TC says:

    Looks a lot like the Hills of Kentucky. I’ve always thought hiking the Appalachian Trail would be the ultimate camping trip and would love to do it. If only…

    Thanks for taking me along with you, if only for a few feet. And I’ll tell my friends that I hiked the AT with a ballerina. ;~)

    Hi TC thanks and welcome. I think hiking the trail is not for the faint of heart or limb. I would love to see someone crossing under the interstate sometime and talk to them about their experiences. There are many hikers and campers in the Smoky Mountains, sometimes they get lost or attacked by bears. I always admire their bravery. I wonder what reaction you will get from your friends after you tell them that tale. ;->

  12. Wonderful post, Frances – full of color, beauty and sense of place and with hiking in ballerina shoes involved, there was even an element of danger!

    When I saw those steps they reminded me of parks we’ve been to that were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. I wonder whether the CCC worked on this part of the Appalachian Trail?

    Gail said she’s on her way to see you – bet that will be a wonderful reunion!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Hi Annie, thanks so much, there was some danger in real life too! I think it very possible that those steps were built by the CCC, but that is just a guess. Gail is on her way, should be here soon if all goes well, very exciting, and there will be non stop chatter the whole time!

    I thought sure you would say something about Dale Evans’ song. It was one of my favorite shows growing up. I had a Roy Rogers lunch box in first grade, my pride and joy.


  13. Racquel says:

    Thanks for taking us along on your little hike. It almost felt like we really were right there with you the whole way. 🙂 The foliage was so beautiful in those woods.

    Hi Racquel, thanks, so glad you could come along. The foliage was exquisite.

  14. brokenbeat says:

    an old housemate of mine was a big hiker and him and his buddies have all traversed the AT. while hearing his tales i found out that the diehard hikers apply a new name for themselves with which to be recognized while on the trail. what be your hiking name? this post was solid and you too are solid for making this journey. i wondered why you got home so late. much love.

    Hi Brokenbeat, Yes I got home late because I hiked the AT! Hmm, I will have to think about my hiking name, but I have some ideas. ;-> You are so sweet and solid yourself.

  15. edenmakertv says:

    Hi Frances,
    I have another song for you that comes to mind, “Stairway to Heaven!” Lucky you.

    Hi Shirley, that’s a good one too. I am lucky.

  16. kate says:

    What a wonderful post! I would love to climb the stone stairs. They are spectacular. Your photographs are lovely, making me feel as if I was along on the trails. (Now I’ll be humming the ‘Happy Trails’ song all day long!)

    Hi Kate, Good for you for humming that song. I was waiting for a comment about the song, it was a favorite of mine growing up. We could have sung a duet while we were hiking! :-> Or you could have played the fiddle and I would do my poor singing job.

  17. joey says:

    A stunning trail, Frances, but my heart began to pound, happy you turned around, especially after checking out those spiffy shoes. I don’t think I could have climbed without holding your hand. I have vertigo and once climbed Stone Mountain (Georgia) all the way to the top but couldn’t bring myself to look around. Also had a panic attack climbing up the dome of the Capitol. I’m a wimp and need a brave friend’s hand to guide me.

    Hi Joey, thanks, I have been known to have vertigo also, going down those stairs was a little hard. I had a true panic attack going across a rope bridge at Grandfather mountain. It was one mile up and I froze in the middle. There was a line of people in front of me and behind me and The Financier had to squeeze through all those people and back me off with my eyes closed. Now this was not as bad as that, but my hand would help steady you if you needed it. ;->

  18. Appalachian Trail hiking is serious stuff! My husband has hiked many section of the AT. Our two sons have gone on the hikes with him. They backpack in and are gone for days at a time. They usually reserve a sleeping spot inside a bare floored shelter (basically a cage) away from the bears. They always come home, smelly, tired and happy with their accomplishments! 🙂 Cameron

    Hi Cameron, It is quite serious, that path was barely visible and I cannot imagine it at night at all. They are quite brave!

  19. Chloe M says:


    What a great story! The AT is certainly beautiful and VERY different from the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) which I have hike portions of.

    And LOVE your silver ballerinas. Tres chic!

    Chloe M

    Hi Chloe, thanks. I have been in the mountains near La Canada camping with our girl scout troup. Lovely but different. Thanks about the shoes, they are cute but not good for hiking LOL.

  20. Pam/Digging says:

    The hike was fun, Frances. I read Bill Bryson’s book a while back and remember it being quite interesting and funny. It would be cool to hike the trail for a few hours, but I wouldn’t be up for a week-long trek, much less the months it would take to do the whole thing.

    Hi Pam, thanks. Me too. We used to camp in my much younger days and hike a little, but nothing like this. It was very beautiful though. I think the short trek and someone to pick you up at the other end would be fun.

  21. Lola says:

    Hi Frances. So glad you made it down ok. Thanks for the short hike. It was breath taking. I loved to walk in the woods. Even at night, after I became accustomed to my surroundings. But would think twice about it these days. Not as brave as I use to be. Being old seems to have done that to me.
    I remember listening to the Roy Rogers show {didn’t have tv}. Always liked to hear them sing “Happy Trails To You”.
    I hope you & Gail have a great time.

    Hi Lola, thanks for coming along. I am not nearly as brave, or foolish maybe, as I once was either. Maybe we are wiser, not walking in the woods as night. Gail and I are enjoying lots of chatting! ;->

  22. Beautiful trail! We were just in the Sugar Mountain/Grandfather Mountain area in July and did some lovely hiking. That stone path is so inviting.

    Hi One Hundred, thanks and welcome. Sugar/GF is a beautiful area, we used to live near there. The mountain streams are pristine and the terrain sublime.

  23. Patsi says:

    Great adventure of the Appalachian Trail.
    Won’t be doing it myself. 🙂
    Welcome home.

    Hi Patsi, thanks. That was all the hiking I will be doing also. ;-> It is so good to be home.

  24. Patsi says:

    You’ve got an award ! Yes another one of those awards.
    Never heard of this one but what the heck do I know. Hope you like awards.
    Just come by and pick it up.
    If not,that’s ok.

    Hi Patsi, thanks so much for this lovely award, I appreciate it very much. I do like awards and have picked it up and put a link to you on my sidebar. What I do with the awards is not pick five more people, but offer it to anyone who would like to place it on their sidebar. This is a pretty one.

  25. Gail says:

    Frances, I am having a blast at Fairegarden….Have I thanked you? Btw Fairegarden fans…the Pink Muhly grass and The Sheffies are gorgeous! Parallel blogging is so much fun! Gail

    Hi Gail, I am so glad you came. Thanks so much for enriching the coffers of the businesses in my area. We need your tourist dollars! How are you going to be able to plant all those plants in your garden? Sounds like you need to take down some trees. ;->

  26. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I remember reading the book you mentioned Frances. I am glad you posted some pictures of this part of the trail. I would love to hike a section of it again sometime.

    Hi Lisa, thanks, you just did hike a section of it, without even leaving your safe and warm home! LOL

  27. Frances, my comment was so long I refrained from talking about “Happy Trails” but now you’ve asked so I’m back!

    Roy Rogers was on our TV when I was a kid, too and I’ve been known to pull out the sheet music and play the song. It’s still a sweet melody.

    My brother used to drive my sister and me nuts by imitating sidekick Pat Brady…”Mustard and Custard…everything happens to me!”


    Hi Annie, never worry about how long your comments are. Yours are so inventive and thoughtful that too much is never enough! I was hoping you would remember that show and song, it was a favorite of mine. Speaking of Pat Brady, I do remember the name of his jeep, Nelly Bell! Thanks for coming back to answer. I would love to hear you sing Happy Trails too. ;->

  28. I love hiking and I’ve never been to your neck of the woods so this was great fun. But next time you’d better wear sensible shoes for trekking Frances as my poor arm is black and blue from your grabbing it every time you slipped. 😉 I could do with a nice hot cuppa tea, how about you? And say hello to Gail from me, will you?

    Hi YE, I didn’t realize you are a hiker. If I had known I sure would have gone for function over fashion, but am very impulsive and thought I would stop and take some photos and post about it, not thinking about my footwear at all until I was on the trail and had to come back down. That’s why I took the picture. LOL Gail says hello back to you too. She is leaving tomorrow morning and we have had so much fun in the garden and also a little plant shopping! ;->

  29. Lynn says:

    Hi Frances–as it happens I’m reading “A Walk in the Woods” right now (cozily inside) and laughing a lot! Your pictures and story brought a smile to my face, too, and it’s great to see a piece of the famous AT. The thought of building that staircase is a lot more daunting than a day’s hike to me though! Thanks for sharing your walk with us.

    Hi Lynn, thanks and welcome. That book is full of laughs, I love his writing. I thought maybe some people would like to see what that part of the trail looks like, from inside their cozy abodes too. ;-> We were wondering how that staircase was built, and how long ago. So glad you enjoyed coming along.

  30. Rose says:

    This was a (H)appy trail indeed! (Oh yes, I remember Roy and Dale’s theme song.) What a beautiful and peaceful spot. Glad you made it back safely in your ballerina flats, Frances. I’ve heard of Bill Bryson’s book; in fact, I had intended to read it–I’ve heard good reviews about it.

    Hi Rose, thanks. It was so wonderful and I highly recommend Bryson’s book. I was not prepared footwear wise, that’s for sure.

  31. Balisha says:

    Gosh…I’m not even winded. Loved the beauty that we experienced and love the shoes!

    Hi Balisha, you must be in great shape. I was huffing and puffing after climbing those stairs! Thanks for joining me, it was a sight to behold. ;->

  32. Gail says:

    Dear Don,

    Now you want me to take down trees! Please visit and bring your chainsaw…I have one tree I will gladly part with~~~a Hackberry. There are a few trees in my neighbor’s yard I will gladly take out. You will find me in the garden all weekend planting. It was too much fun acquiring;-> Gail

    Hi Gail, yes, do take down those trees, but The Financier does the cutting around here and you don’t want him with the chainsaw on your property, he gets carried away sometimes. If you need some advice about what those plants need, don’t hesitate to call me! ;-> Happy planting.

  33. Debi says:

    That was quite an adventure in your ballerina shoes. Glad you made it there and back again safely, Frances!

    Hi Debi, thanks. It was a little harrowing, thanks for joining me. ;->

  34. Phillip says:

    I love the rock staircase the foliage is just incredible. Thanks for sharing it.

    Hi Phillip, thanks for coming along, a big strong man is just what is needed for a hike in uncertain quarters. ;->

  35. chuck b. says:

    That’s much prettier than the part of it I saw in north Georgia.

    Hi Chuck, it was quite pretty. Where I live, we are so close to Georgia that we get their news and weather on our Chattanooga TV station.

  36. chuck b. says:

    I’ve been to Chattanooga twice, on my way to Nashville. I don’t remember it much. Nashville, however, was fun. Although I liked Memphis even more. Never been to Knoxville.

    Hi Chuck, all the cities you mention have plusses and minuses. Knoxville has the University of TN which gives it a certain atmosphere beyond its population number. Nothing like San Fran of course.


  37. Frances, that may be as close as I ever get to the Appalachian trail! But, Wow! You took the greatest photographs… kinda dizzying. 😉
    I’m glad you had such sturdy ballerina shoes… as I’m stockingfooted! ha. What a nice post. Thank you!

    Hi Shady, me too! My hiking days are behind me LOL. No shoes, wow that is really roughing it. Maybe you are part hillbilly, like me. Thanks for coming along and keeping me company, it was a little frightening.

  38. Pingback: Digging » Bloggers’ Celebration of National Parks: A wrap-up

  39. Cynthia says:

    Dear Frances, I saw your wonderful photo of the steps (#030) and would love to use it on my fundraising page for a rare disease called Myositis. Steps is something of a problem for those of us with Myositis and I thought of a way to engage people to support us — counting steps for a day and then contributing that amount for … a day, a week, a month, a year …. I would be so appreciative if I could use your photo and will credit you if you’d like. If you are agreable, please just let me know what I need to do. Thank you in advance — in kindness, Cynthia Riddle, Harvard, MA

    Hi Cynthia, I would be honored for you to use my photo in your fundraising and will contact you about it. Thanks for visiting and may God bless you. 🙂

  40. Laurie says:

    I’m working on a Website for the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club and wondered if you would give me permission to use your photo of the AT sign that says, Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Foot traffic welcome.

  41. Pingback: A Place Called Waterville « Fairegarden

Comments are closed.