The perfect day. The kind where the weather is superb, the views are hard to beat, and everything just seems to come together. These two lovebirds were rewarded with some beautiful mountain weather for their engagement session that night outside Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Sam and Simon had recently become engaged and were looking to take a trip up from Atlanta to the mountains to go on an adventure for their engagement session, and after chatting with them about what they were dreaming up and getting to know them more, we settled on spending an afternoon up at Max Patch in the Pisgah National Forest.
The day couldn’t have been better. We met at the trailhead and packed everything we were going to take in into our packs, then headed off to the top of the bald. Once there, we picked a nice little spot on the west-facing side of the mountain to set up our “base camp” and prepare for the main attraction: that epic sunset over the Great Smoky Mountains.
Sam and Simon actually had most of their stuff already packed when we arrived, so it wasn’t until we were at the top of Max Patch that they surprised me with the news that their picnic which they packed was, in fact, Taco Bell. They said that if there was one meal that was true to them to bring for their picnic, it was Taco Bell. To top it off, it was Taco Bell AND champagne. I mean, think about it: You typically already get a fizzy beverage with your TB meal of choice, so why not take it up just that tiny notch for your engagement, am I right?!
Max Patch is an absolutely amazing spot for many reasons, most notably its panoramic mountain views and ease of accessibility which makes it both a killer sunrise and sunset spot. The bald is also part of the Appalachian Trail. Because of this, the location has become insanely popular over the years. The Forest Service has discussed plans to add more infrastructure to the area to accommodate the growth in popularity, but actual efforts have been merely dreams thus far.
We are insanely lucky to be able to access these beautiful lands, so let’s do our best to keep it that way. Please read all signs and avoid restoration areas when asked, even if you see a trail that provides a quicker route to the top (and possibly even seen others taking the trail as well). The popularity of this area has had an enormous impact on the land already, which is why the Forest Service asks you to avoid posted restoration areas for the land to recover. Last time I was out there, a new sign had been posted at the trailhead about an elk family that had been sighted in the area, so please be aware of surrounding wildlife too. And keep wildlife wild; Do not approach, feed, or attempt to touch any wildlife. Rule of thumb: If you stick your thumb out all the way in front of you and the animal is not covered entirely by your thumb, you’re probably too close 😉
Always remember to pack out all that you packed in. Doing your best to be a good steward of these beautiful and awe-inspiring places will make such a positive impact for years to come. No sauce packets were left behind in the making of these memories.