Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Dragon's tooth- Appalachian trail hiking

In the spring,  we like to take advantage of the beautiful weather get outside and hike any chance we can. We are in the prime area for hiking. We are centrally located to the New River Trail, the Blue Ridge parkway and the Appalachian trail. We also have many other local places to hike like Buffalo Mountain, Rock Castle Gorge and the Cascades.

We hike all of local places each year and have been working our way down different parts of the New River trail.  This year, we began looking for different areas of the Appalachian trail to hike.

Our first  AT hike of the spring was Dragon's Tooth. Dagon's Tooth is a unique geological feature that consists of Tuscarora quartzite spires which outcrop on the top of cove Mountain. The tallest tooth projects roughly 35 feet above the surrounding rock. The trail to Dragon's tooth ascends steep, rugged outcrops of quartzite which form the spine of Cove Mountain and North Mountain. The spine is known as Dragon's back.

This was a pretty difficult hike, for us having sat on our butts all winter. It is only 4.5 miles round trip, but it is very strenuous and the terrain is extremely rough in spots.  

Several areas of this hike require you to actually scale the rocks. They do have hand grips in some of the rocks, but some of them like this picture did not. climbing up this area was much scarier than climbing down. It is hard to how steep this area actually is in the photo, but it felt like we were having to climb straight up the rocks. what you can't see in these pictures, is that there is a pretty good drop off next to the trail on the bottom. Making this the most terrifying part of the hike. 

Both hands and feet are required to get down the rocks here.  Coming down was much easier than going up.  Honestly, i was surprised by the amount of older folks, kids and dogs that were hiking.  This is not an easy trail, and i would not take little kids on it. My kids are 8 and 13 and did fine, but there were some scary areas, narrow legdes and the climbing was pretty strenuous and difficult in parts.

i didn't get any photos of the climb up, because we had to use both hands and were just concerned with the climb. Kenan was the first to climb down, so he snapped a couple pictures of us descending. It is a very hands on hike. You have climb using both hands and feet and sometimes knees as well.

The views at the top make the hike completely worthwhile. The views are truly incredible.

At the top of Dragon's tooth, we rested and had some snacks before heading back down. 

Had to take a selfie of course. ;)

i would have loved to get  a picture of my family sitting where the guy in the orange shirt is, but we had to settle for the base of the 'tooth'.  It's hard to see, but that's my family standing in the shadow. It's give an idea of how large the quartzite formations are. 

This was a great hike to start the year, although it was much more challenging than many of our other hikes we truly enjoyed it. Looking forward to exploring more places along the Appalachian trail this spring/summer.  We all need to work on getting in better shape though, the AT is serious hiking.

"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean."-John Muir


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