Beyond the Alpine Zone
There is a moment when one traverses up-and-out of the trees, where the winds begin to mimic the ocean waves and the breeze feels a little salty. It is a strange and familiar sensation to hear the echos of ocean waves atop a majestic mountain. The trees begin to shrink; miniature pine trees clump together like leprechauns in vivid greens and burnt reds. Eventually, they disappear altogether, bowing out to a rocky, rugged, and barren terrain–the Alpine Zone.
The top of the mountain reveals herself as scarred. Perhaps a hateful windstorm or a jealous deluge washed her beautiful covering away. A rough skeleton lay behind, clothed in delicate, little, green pickleys. They cling with all their might to the barren soils that clothe the top of the of the mountain. This zone is beaten by harsh wind and scorched by the sun’s rays. Yet, it is a site of breathtaking beauty and a platform to see all that exists below. It is an island floating amidst the clouds, waiting silently for the next creature to disturb is quiet resting place.
In the midst of serenity and beauty, it is an arena for danger and risk. Violent gale force winds scathe the Alpine Zone, making it impossible to move upright. The danger is overwhelming when the storms push through. Nonetheless, the mountain remains through the fiercest of storms and the Alpine Zone awaits for tomorrow’s first visitors. Those who pursue the zone in the times of tumult willingly take their life into their hands. Let us hope they do not fall to the fatal beauty above the clouds.
As poetic as this all may sound, the Alpine Zone is the site for great adventure. Those willing to climb the 5,000 and 6,000 ft. tall monsters will surely be awarded by the scenery that exists above the treeline. It is an incredible feeling to summit the cornice of a great and imposing mountain. Like the Presidentials in the Whites of New Hampshire and even Roan Mountain down in Tennessee, the Appalachian Trail has traversed many inspiring places to reward all those that seek fellowship with the wilderness.