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In preparation for the 50-mile trek on the Big Island on July 2004, I took a 10.7 mile hike in and around Sky Meadows State Park and along the Appalachian Trail to Ashby Gap and back.

The route I followed started at the Visitors Center and went east along the Piedmont Overlook Trail. I should have known that a trail with the name "overlook" was going to go "high." The view from the top was breathtaking (as was the trudge to the top - as in I was out of breath when I finally got to the top). I suppose the cattle in the pasture liked the view too!

The path along the North Ridge Trail was no picnic either. It joined the AT at the top of the mountain three miles south of Ashby Gap (crossing at Route 17). I only passed one group of three hikers on the way to Ashby Gap, but it was a veritable parade on the return trip!

I was startled near my turnaround point by a snake coiled and sunning himself in the middle of the trail! He wasn't too concerned with me or my hiking stick (but he wasn't there when I came back by 20 minutes later either). The weather had been nice - not too hot; not too cool - on the way out, but the thunderstorms that had been threatening came alive ten minutes up the trail from Ashby Gap. I was able to get my camera stowed, my jacket on, and my backpack "condom" over the pack before it really got nasty, but the trail became a stream in a hurry. It rained on and off the rest of my hike back to Sky Meadows. I took the South Ridge Trail back to the visitors center and really enjoyed my day in the woods!