Sunrise on Mcafee Knob

Before I get on the Pacific Crest Trail, I have a few other stops to make. The first was back onto the Appalachian Trail for a photo. I strapped on my headlamp at 3AM and hiked up to McAfee Knob, overlooking the Catawba Valley in Southern Virginia.

I was recently contacted by someone who wanted to use my McAfee Knob photo in a project, but I wasn't happy with the hurried picture I took during my thru-hike in 2011. This project is incredibly interesting to me, so I drove back to retake it.

When I arrived, there were a few other headlamps that bounced around in the dark, a scattering of city lights dotted the valley far below, and Venus was still the brightest object in the eastern sky. The other headlamp lights belonged to a group of teenage boys collecting firewood.

"Do you mind if we get a fire going?" one of them asked while dragging branches onto the knob.

"You mean right here on the rock?" I asked. 

"Yeah," he said. 

"This is McAfee Knob. The most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail," I said. "I'd hate to see a big scorch mark on the rock from your campfire."

My defense of this sacred spot had two benefits, they moved off the knob toward the treeline to build their fire, and I had the view to myself for a little while as I waited for the right moment to take my photo.

McAfee Knob photo from 2011
When later telling someone about my morning, I started to say, "The other day, I hiked up to Mcafee Knob--" Then I stopped myself, because I realized it wasn't "the other day". It was yesterday.

Nothing slows down the passage of time like breaking free of monotony.  That's my secret to longevity. Each day is distinct from the last, so you're present for all of them and none get lost in the mix. I have exactly one month left to work my way toward the Northern Terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail, but it's sure to last a lot longer than 31 days.