Recovery from Chemo is my primary goal—not really hiking the longest trail right now. Though most of you know I want to hike longer until I can go back to the Len Foote Hike Inn in the fall. At five miles in and five miles out, that feels like a stretch, but I’m going to keep going until I reach that mark.

Life, for me now, is full of baby steps. It’s about finding the right way to live above the clouds. Some people have been on a recovery journey for years. I have been on it for months and all I can say is that I have to be patient. Poetically, doctors say, “Embrace your new norm!” I like to say, “I’ll hike my own hike.”

Whiteside Mountain is located in North Carolina near Highlands and Cashiers is less than 5,000 feet but its beautiful. The loop around the top is a moderate two miles hike. I did it for the first time in over a year, and I gave myself an A+.

The pathways to the top are refreshing and offer a time to catch your breath and also to be reminded of how beautiful our country really is at every corner. You just have to open your eyes and live!

Rocky pathways lead to the top. Whiteside got its name, of course, from the granite rock face and the look of white on the mountain. It’s apart of the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina. Usually this area in the photo above is littered with colorful ropes and people repelling off the side of the mountain but not for the next couple of months. The protected peregrine falcon nests on Whiteside. So this area is off limits to extreme rock climbing activities!

The mountains behind us are not as high as the ones we were in two weeks ago, but they are still beautiful. We missed Beth. She’s on this journey with me—recovery and onward and upward!

Just a little split in the rock face that always amazes me. I usually follow the tight path to a place where I can stand on the ledge overlooking the mountains and valley below. But decided to stick to the path on this day. (smile)

I need to ask my friend and Master Gardner Beth McDonald if this is a Turk’s Cap Lily. It was growing on the side of the mountain—literally off the side!

Snow White Bee Balm! There’s even a bee, which always amazes me. The higher we hiked the more flowers and gentle insects we saw. I’m just glad we are not running into snakes . . . yet . . . or bears. I have read too many books about bears in the mountains!

I’ll have to ask my naturalist friend Jim Sullivan about this little guy. It’s a white moth and as I took its photo, it began to flutter and then it flew away. I must have been too close for its comfort!

The top and the wonderful view. It will forever remind me of my beloved former pastor, who passed away last year. He loved hiking this mountain.

I think I will always take this photo—just for the fun of it. We’re more than mere shadows, and we are certainly not “dust in the wind!” Life counts!

I’ve been up Whiteside Mountain many times and I think, except for some haze, this last visit was one of the best. The wild flowers on top were amazing. Pat said she felt as though someone had planted them but I think they were just there for us. Wood lilies are in the foreground.

I’ve really never noticed flowers on the mountainside before. Lovely and I think I captured a bee in this one, too.

Every pathway we took near the top was laced with wild flowers. It was just a great wonderful walk.

The Mountain Laurel was just really blooming—a striking difference from where I live 45 minutes away. Ours has been gone since spring.

More gentle buds. How’s that for hanging on to spring and walking gently into summer.

I’m playing more with the camera and the depth of field and also negative space. But I may need to look into buying a mirrorless camera, which would be way lighter and easier to use while hiking.

We hiked up a trail that is rocky and somewhat open with water coming off of rocks. Coming back, we were under Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel canopies.

I love the greens of spring and summer! But I also love the stark greys of winter, and the rustic browns of fall.

This is a refreshing site — moss covered rocks with natural spring water flowing down. In the winter it quickly becomes a sheet of ice. The ice is amazing!