For years, my friend Beth (in the background) has been telling me about Max Patch. She has hiked it with her family, and I finally told her, “Let’s do it.” I’m still in recovery from Chemo, but that isn’t stopping me, especially on good days. And last Thursday was a very good day! We had gone to the top of Waterrock Knob the day before, and I was amazed at the strength I had. People have told me to keep moving. So this rolling hillside that weighed in at only a little over 4,600 feet high was easy to hike.

The path ascends the top of the bald with gentle turns and soft peat. I almost felt like I was strolling up to heaven.

Max Patch is a man-made bald where in the 1800’s cattle once grazed. Today, the Appalachian Trail crosses the top of the Bald and hikers either follow the trail north or do what we did—spread out a tarp and just take in the scenery. Many say this is prettiest spot on the AT.

I need to think about that because there are so many striking places on the AT! Certainly the 360-degree view here is absolutely spectacular.

On a clear day, you can see Mt. Mitchell on the east to the Great Smoky Mountains on the south. What a picnic spot! And great for star gazing, camping and wildflowers. Max Patch is located deep within the Pisgah National Forest, which has always been a favorite for me.

Two easy loop trails lead you to, and around, the summit. The 1.4-mile short loop crosses the summit. The 2.4-mile loop circles the mountain for outstanding views from all the sides. The options are not marked, but it’s hard to get lost atop the bald. From the parking lot, follow the trail to the left to ascend through a forest and reach the top. Or head up the steeper wider trail straight ahead.

Here we are at the top of Max Patch, and I guess standing on the marker for the AT and the marker for the top of the Bald.

Even though it was hot and humid, I wanted to spend more time on the top; but I had a challenge, and it was called gathering storm clouds. Serious storm clouds with long streaks of lightening and rain! Later, Beth told me that she had heard or read that one of the worse places to be during a storm was on top of a Bald and there we stood!

When I was much younger and a news photographer in the Atlanta area, my editor once told me: “Never come back to the office without ‘the shot.'” Those words still run through my mind. I think I got “the shot” on this one! Good old Quinby Melton, owner, publisher, and senior edition of the Griffin Daily News.

Somehow we all got split up on the top but all found our way back to the car before the rain hit. Looking at this photo, it seems impossible to believe. My car was parked were the trail to the left ends. (smile) Funny thing, as I raced back to the car, I kept stopping and taking photographs. Then my iPhone decided to call a friend, who actually answered. I kept hearing her voice say, “Hello, hello!”

I stopped, got the phone out of my pack, and shout, “I can’t talk, Judy. I’ll call you back; I’m in the middle of a horrible lightening storm!” In the south, I was raised to be nice regardless of the situation. (smile)