Orion announces the hikers trying to sneak by to catch Easter sunrise on Max Patch, the grassy bald that was originally cleared by loggers, kept clear for decades by sheep, and now burned and mowed by the forest service. We climbed out of the tent and hurried the mile up to the top, but we, like they, were too late for first light.
The views of the Smokies were impressive, however, and we enjoyed hot beverages and fried bagels with cream cheese. Orion stretched his legs and played catch with Robinhood (formerly Mouse).
We enjoyed a leisurely morning in the warm sun, then walked barefoot through the squishy mud as the trail dipped into the shade of the thick rhododendron bushes (not yet in bloom). We met some section hikers who informed us that there was a group throwing an Easter party for hikers one gap over, so we donned our shoes and made good time up and over the mountain. On top we met some friendly folk with a passel of canines, and Orion learned that he wasn’t the big dog on the trail. Down into the gap for a real feast; where we enjoyed live music and (like any good trail Jew) couldn’t passover the spiral cut ham, grilled salmon, deviled eggs, and more side dishes and desserts than I can name. It was a truly impressive feast.
Ordinarily, Sunday is the day of our weekly Ultimate Frisbee game in Damariscotta. So, as if being a pre-adolescent thru-hiker weren’t novelty enough, Robinhood proved that he could have a promising future career in the circus by wowing all onlookers as he played catch with a frisbee and hula-hooped simultaneously. (Long distance hiking is really all about efficiency, so we try to train our kids to multitask by getting all their recreating done at once). Having resurrected our energy levels, we left the feast for another three miles of trail.
The Easter feast hosts gave us a dozen hard-boiled Easter eggs, and when we got to the shelter, each of the various hikers there hid and egg or two, and the kids had an honest to goodness Easter egg hunt. Then we all tucked in for the night, planning to head to Hot Springs, NC in the morning.