AT west of Culvers Gap

AT west of Culvers Gap, Stokes State Forest (4/26/2008)

Last week we hiked the AT east of Culvers Gap. This week we returned to the same trailhead (at the large parking area on Route 636) to hike west of the gap. The NYNJTC map #17 had four viewpoints marked on the 4-mile portion we hiked to the intersection with the Shay Trail at the Brink Road lean-to. But the weather didn't cooperate, and we spent 4 hours on the ridge in fog! We caught a couple of views of Culvers Lake near the beginning, as we climbed the ridge. But once on the ridge, nothing. However, the fog created a gorgeous ethereal sense to the entire experience and it turned out to be a beautiful hike. And ... we saw our first bald eagle! It was in flight over Culvers Lake. When I hurriedly aimed my camera and zoomed in, I thought I was photographing some sort of water bird -- but after zooming into the image once the photo was taken, it was clearly a bald eagle. And I caught it just before a near-by branch would have obstructed it! See photo 61 (first photo in the next to last row).

This 8-mile hike took us about 4.5 hours. The only somewhat challenging part was the steady uphill climb to the ridge near the beginning, west of Route 636.

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We're heading to Georgia today

Beautiful pines near Route 636

Beginning of climb west of Rt. 636 crossing

Obstructed view of Culvers Lake


Steady climb to ridge

Photographer caught! [photo by Laura]

Culvers Lake

Reaching the fog

Signs of industry?


Cairn in the midst

Laura loves cairns


There should be a view here

An ethereal forest


There should be a view here too

They're hatching


Not so yummy

Spring blooms

Blueberry fields

Woodpecker motel


Water drops


Apparently a recent fire ...

... left this bare

The smell of burnt leaves ...

... was strong here

He sang to us during lunch

Back to Culvers Lake

Route 206

Houses on the lake


Bald eagle!

Fishing on the lake


Leaf parasites

Poison ivy

Gorilla in the mist [photo by Laura]

Back to the pines

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