|Elevation Profile: First half of The Priest Hike on the A.T.|
The 14 miles up and back from Half Dome are no doubt much more spectacular than my trip up and down and up and down The Priest. But there are a couple of nice overlooks along the way up The Priest, and I had the privilege of speaking with 4 northbound thru hikers each individually on their way to Maine. One told me that a bear had been grunting around her tent the night before, and she was afraid it would come in and get all the food at her feet (she should check out this video!). Another asked me what I was hiking today and when I told him he responded, "What would you ever want to do that for?"
A big thrill was getting to see my first ever examples of a small plant known as Beartongue or Eastern Turkeybeard, Xerophyllum asphodeloides. Can I say it was a thrill to see a plant? I've seen photos of Beartongue (I like that name much better than "Turkeybeard," though the latter is used more commonly), and it reminded me a lot of its close relative, Beargrass, which is a plant I saw near Glacier National Park back in high school. Each plant had striking white groups of flowers that seemed to glow like lightbulbs. The genus name, from the Greek xeros (dry) and phyllon (leaf), refers to the dry, wiry, basal leaves of this showy plant. It is said to be difficult to cultivate and seldom blooms in gardens.
|The A.T. at about 4000 feet elevation with Turkeybeard at left.|