Wiseman’s View

Sharon and Mark Rutledge visit Wiseman’s View, a scenic overlook above North Carolina’s Linville Gorge.

When one of my daughters recently described someone as having a “dad bod,” I asked her to elaborate. That was probably a mistake.

“You know,” she said. “Big belly, skinny arms, et cetera.”

“Would you say that I have a dad bod?” I asked.

“You’re getting there,” she said, looking straight at my stomach with only the slightest air of apprehension.

I admit to gaining more weight during the past year than my children have probably seen me carry. But I am working on trimming down. I’m jogging regularly again, Sharon and I have been riding bicycles again, and we’re hiking more.

By “hiking more” I mean that we are hiking at all. For two people who have lived much of their lives in the mountains of Appalachia, we have explored precious few of the highland trails. “Hiking” is one of those action words that Sharon and I normally use in the future tense.

“We should go hiking this weekend,” one of us might say.

“That’s a great idea,” the other might respond.

Most of our weekend hikes begin and end right there. Early this spring, however, we followed through on one and hiked to Rock Creek Falls in Unicoi County, Tennessee. It was the first time I got to use my expensive hiking shoes for something other than mowing grass.

I bought the fancy footwear in 2019 for our trip with a group of friends to Hawaii. For the “hiking” that we did there, running shoes would have been both comfortable and sufficiently supportive.

During the Memorial Day weekend, we more than doubled our annual hiking adventures on some pretty spectacular trails in the North Carolina mountains.

Base camp was a little off-the-grid slice of paradise owned by some friends on the Toe River near Spruce Pine, North Carolina.

Ordinarily when we visit that spot, I am the self-appointed keeper of the campfire while others raft down the river. This time, I joined the others in trekking to some of the most spectacular views of the North Carolina mountains.

We visited Wiseman’s View, a gorgeous overlook in the Pisgah National Forest. Other than the awe-inspiring views of Linville Gorge and Hawksbill and Table Rock mountains, the best part about that spot was getting there by car. Enjoying the overlook requires a mere .02-mile stroll along a paved path.

From there we drove on up to the parking area for a 1.1-mile trail to the summit of Table Rock Mountain. This was my kind of hike — physically challenging yet without need for packing so much as a sandwich. For such a relatively brief hike, the payoff is nothing short of magnificent.

Looking out from 3,930 feet at mountain gorges and rolling green canopy, it seems like the only thing one cannot see is the usually inescapable negativity in the national news.

What a great way to make Memorial Day all that it should be. Working off a bit of the old “dad bod” is a bonus.

Contact Mark Rutledge at mrutledge@reflector.com.