Birthday Hike 2008: Sinking Creek Mountain

March 18, 2009 at 5:00 am 3 comments

Birthdays are a time to indulge yourself and do what makes you most happy. On my birthday, I choose to hike. At the time this post publishes, I’ll be in Fairy Stone State Park, Virginia on my 34th Birthday Hike. So it seemed to be an appropriate time to share pictures from my 33rd Birthday Hike.

I celebrated my thirty-third birthday with a round trip hike up Sinking Creek Mountain. I started at Craig’s Creek Road (VA-621) and hiked southbound on the AT for 3.7 miles. Once you are at the top, the next 1.5 miles offer a series of rock outcroppings… and views! You ascend 2000 feet in your journey, but it doesn’t feel like 2000 feet. In fact, it feels relatively easy.

I don’t know why, but Sinking Creek Mountain gets about…well, zero attention. Everyone hits Kelly’s Knob to the south or look northbound to Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee’s Knob and Tinker Cliffs. That’s a shame. I find Sinking Creek Mountain to be every bit as fulfilling as the other destinations.

As you climb the mountain, you do pass through a rocky section with lovely views of the surrounding mountains and once you are at the Continental Divide at the top, you are walking on ridgeline with opportunities to take in scenery in all directions. I had the added bonus of hiking when the leaves were long gone, so my views were amplified. I could glimpse ridges that would be obscured in the coming months.

Sinking Creek Mountain - Dawn from the AT
View at Dawn (within the first mile of the hike)

Sinking Creek Mountain - View To the West
Looking Westbound from the Top

Sinking Creek Mountain - Sample of Slanty Rocks
Sample of the Rock Faces at Top

Sinking Creek Mountain - Jimmie Looks at View
Jimmie Enjoys Eastbound View

I was hiking the day after St. Patrick’s Day. Even though our mountaineous area hadn’t fully embraced the notion of spring, nature was color coordinated for the holiday. Evergreens such as pines, rhododendrons and mountain laurels gave me a consistent dosage of green. Ferns, lichen and moss joined in that effort.

Sinking Creek Mountain - Pine Needles and View
Green at the Top

Sinking Creek Mountain - Pine Needles
Pine Needles

Sinking Creek Mountain - Rock Beats Scissors, Moss Beats Rock
Comfy Green Moss

Sinking Creek Mountain - Lichen Coexisting
Mountain Laurel Supports Two Types of Lichen

Other colors made it into the mix as well. I was particular struck by some bright yellow fungus I saw growing on the tree barks. It was so bright, it looked like someone had spray painted it.

Sinking Creek Mountain - Yellow Fungi
Bright Yellow Fungus

Sinking Creek Mountain - Lone Leaf
Lone Orange Leaf Dangles

Sinking Creek Mountain - Mushrooms
Beautifully Textured Mushrooms

The trees at the top of Sinking Creek Mountain are particularly subject to the elements. Just like the Red Oaks on Apple Orchard Mountain and the Icicles near Mann’s Bog, the effects of the environment are documented in the trees’ postures.

Sinking Creek Mountain - Wind Mangled Tree (Heading Northbound)
Twisted Tree at Top of Sinking Creek Mountain

There were some other oddities as well. I loved how this tree’s burl forced a smaller tree to bend out of the way.

Sinking Creek Mountain - MOVE!!!!
Tree Tumor Makes a Sapling Move

This branch, I thought looked like an inch worm.

Sinking Creek Mountain - Inch Worm Tree
Tree Inch Worm

I found Sinking Creek Mountain to be a beautiful hike as always. It was an excellent way to usher in my 33rd year.

More pictures of my 2008 Birthday Hike are available on my Flickr site.

Appalachian Trail: Sinking Creek Mountain

Length: ~10 Miles Round Trip

Elevation Gain: 2000 Feet

Directions from Blacksburg, Virginia

1) Take 460 West

2) Turn right on Craig’s Creek Road (VA-621). The Pandapas Pond Turnoff will be on the left hand side of the road.

3) Craig’s Creek Road will turn to gravel, pass Caldwell Fields (worth a stop!) and then eventually turn back to pavement. Once it does, the AT crossing will be within a couple of miles. There will be a camping and parking area on the left side of the road.

Entry filed under: Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Sinking Creek Mountain.

links for 2009-03-17 Furthering the Case for Sinking Creek Mountain

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Season Compare: Sinking Creek Mountain « TGAW  |  March 20, 2009 at 6:02 am

    […] 20, 2009 Here are a few season compares of Sinking Creek Mountain, starring pictures from my 33rd Birthday Hike and a trip back up the mountain last October. […]

  • 2. Kitty  |  March 21, 2009 at 10:21 am

    I love all your pictures! Especially the detailed macro-esque ones. The lichens are gorgeous… I love taking an up close and personal look at nature. Happy birthday! 🙂 Definitely a great birthday idea. Mine is coming up and I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to do for it–now I know! Birthday hike, here we come!! Thanks!

  • 3. ideonexus  |  March 24, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    The macro photos are fantastic. I especially like the comfy moss photo. That’s quite beautiful!


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