Grand Views Near and Far

A day hike on June 2nd, 2019

Near White Rock, Overlooking Unicoi and Surrounding Area

I live in such an amazing city! I cannot believe what this town has to offer, and so close to my door! Johnson City has some real natural treasures – Buffalo Mountain being it’s crowning jewel. It’s hard to believe that this mountain lies within the city limits. I was initially put off by this mountain by the park at it’s base. There are some sketchy folks prowling around the parking areas. My one word of advice would be to avoid the parking areas near the lower bald – aka Huckleberry Knob, that overlooks Johnson City. Old men sit in vehicles and lurk. (I’m not kidding.) This is the most heavily trafficked area of this spectacular park. Don’t let perverts ruin your adventure though.

Vistas will be had.

Get yourself on the White Rock Loop. I have read varying distances, from 3.1 to 5.1 miles. Who knows exactly? My GPS malfunctioned yesterday on the trail, so I only have a time – 5 hours, 29 minutes! You can basically walk around the mountain, with spectacular views on all sides. Be prepared for some grueling elevation gains! This mountain is fairly strenuous to hike. There is a lot of gnarly root and rocky sections, with plenty to slip or trip on. Take it slow if you are not in the best shape. There are many peaks, and several ridges with some quite spectacular vistas; however, if you pay attention and look closely, you can find some amazing wildlife in close quarters. Slow down and take time to notice the little things around you as you ascend and descend this majestic mountain.

I imagined this bug biting me and giving me some rare disease.
“Not that it matters… but… yes.

As my lungs begged for air on my ascent, I took many breaks to let my beating heart catch up to the elevation gains. Sit still and look around you, quietly. You may be surprised at what amazing wildlife there is.

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
The color contrasts are amazing
“Eww. Don’t eat the green one’s. They’re not ripe yet.” (Please don’t eat any of them!)
Galax – Galax Urceolata
Rosebay Rhododendron – Rhododendron Maximum, with what I believe are Aphids.

Speaking of being up close and personal with nature – want to see something scary? I did not notice this danger noodle right below me. Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings! Vipers like to hang out under rocks and beneath fallen trees! Normal snakes don’t bother me – but only a fool would mess with these things being so far isolated and from help!

Buffalo Mountain has it all. Nature’s best – in the spectacular panoramic views, as well as the intimate close up surroundings. I highly recommend this amazing retreat! Here is a handy reference guide to some of the flowers you can see out here!

But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?” -Job 12:7-9

Buffalo Mountain “Speed” Run

Last year I ran my first sub 7-second mile. It was a milestone in my life. I get it – it’s not exactly fast to motivated people, but it sure was fast for a fat kid like me.

Fast forward to 2019, and I am facing a timed 1-mile run in two weeks. I’m a little nervous. I need to be able to run this mile. It’s one thing to run a mile with no consequence, but another thing when your future depends on it!

Winters are always brutal to me. I do not fare well during cold months. It takes an act of God to get me moving after the winter season.

I figured what better way to get moving again than getting out in nature and heading out to some of my favorite places? I determined to get a baseline of my time on this mountain, and whittle it down from there. Anything I need to run on flat top will seem monumentally easier on level, paved ground. So, here is my 1st official timed event. It’s my first “speed” run, without actually being super speedy.

Be forewarned – fat, old guy breathing helplessly abounds.