Maddron Bald joins Snake Den Ridge about .7 mile from the latter’s junction with the Appalachian Trail. To complete Snake Den, I’ve got to head up before I can head down. Mary lives nearby and regularly hikes these trails, so she is quite willing to rest here and watch our packs while Clarence and I double this stretch. It is liberating and exhilarating to carry nothing but my camera! The difference is akin to sprouting wings; I’m practically flying up the trail. Apart from a few photo stops, we make good time.
Clarence and I rejoin Mary at the trail junction for a quick lunch before heading for Cosby. Snake Den Ridge is 5.3 miles (all up or all down) with an elevation change of 3400 feet. It descends the sloping ridge line of Snake Den Mountain. Inadu Mountain is to the right with the valley of Inadu Creek in between. A little over three miles down, the trail crosses Inadu Creek and finishes its descent on the lower flank of Inadu Mountain.
As we move down Snake Den Ridge, the temperature moderates. I find a very warty American Toad hopping across the path. It is a dusty tannish gray and stubbornly camera shy despite my best efforts to charm the little guy (or gal?). Speaking of toads, Mary notices a large, flat lichen covered with little bumps. I later identify it as Common Toadskin Lichen (Lasallia papulosa). Its color and texture set it apart from Rock Tripe with which it could be confused.
I’m easily distracted along the trail and often stop to photograph interesting sights and details, then rush to catch up. Mary is the sure and steady hiker, the constant “tortoise” to my whiplash inducing “hare.” Clarence will sometimes lag behind with me until he can’t stand it anymore, then he takes off to stretch his legs at Mary’s perfect pace. She slips ahead of us for a while today, and when we find her, she’s lying against her pack absorbing warm rays of sunshine like an ectotherm! She looks so relaxed and comfortable, Clarence and I shed our packs and join her.
Most of the trail’s final mile follows an old road. A small cemetery is located near the turnaround. Snake Den Ridge concludes at the back corner of Cosby Campground very near our campsite. Before driving Mary home, Clarence and I gather fresh clothes and toiletries. She has offered us the opportunity to bathe at her place. Hallelujah!