One of the best things about this loop is the easy, 3.5-mile hike back to the Cosby campground where we started. Our chilly morning started slowly as we warmed up with hot tea and broke camp. We skipped breakfast to get on the trail, which warmed us up quickly. The streams we passed weren't as swollen as the day before, most of the mountain rain having washed out by then. Clear skies and the warm sun accompanied us back.
We finished with our tradition on Cosby-area hikes: a big breakfast at Carver's Apple Orchard. Every meal comes with apple fritters and apple butter, glasses of apple cider, and the eggs, bacon, and buttermilk biscuits are just what we needed to recharge.