It is certainly Spring time in Black Mountain. The Dogwoods are beautiful and the temps are consistently warmer. Makes me want to grill out. My problem (one of them anyway) is that my old gas grill has finally died. I went to the local store wanting to get a simple charcoal grill replacement. Oh well… Meet “The Egg”.
We wanted to go earlier in the week but the weather was pretty crummy, rain and wind. Now it is only wind constant 25 – 30 miles an hour with gusts up to 50ish. The sun is bright and warm. Jake and Lilli brought there Eagles Nest Hammocks. I’m a little confused that Lilli has the green and brown one and Jake has the pink and yellow one, but Jake informed me that he gave his other one to a friend who didn’t have very much and this is the only one he could find. I am so proud of him!
Woops that’s Lilli
We got up there pretty early and set up camp and spent most of the afternoon exploring. The fire that swept the gorge last Summer was evident. I was surprised at how quickly things were recovering.
Hanging out on Short-Off Mountain.
Lilli didn’t seem to mind the heights. She has a special appreciation for the quieter things in life – most of the time anyway.
Trying to capture something so majestic and beautiful with a smart phone camera is an almost impossible task.
Sunset over the gorge from Short-Off Mountain.
In the below picture, you can see the Mountain to Sea Trail running up the spine of the mountain. The Mtn 2 Sea trail runs from Clingmans Dome in the Smokies to the Outer Banks on the North Carolina coast. Lake James is in the background.
Mountain to Sea trail.
You can see Graybeard Mountain just to the left of Pinnacle Mountain which is just North of Montreat.
Graybeard is in the center and Pinnacle is on the right.
Ok, if you got this far thanks! Technology and me don’t necessarily go together. I am learning. And I will make a plug for our family owned business Take A Hike Outfitters in Black Mountain, NC.
In a matter of weeks, the annual Black Mountain Marathon and Mount Mitchell Challenge participants will come together to face a grueling journey at 7 a.m. on Saturday, February 22. The Challengers will ascend 40 miles to the highest peak in the East – elevation 6,684 – and retrace the path back to the start/finish area. Marathoners will run up to the Black Mountain Gap overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway and retrace the route to finish.
The Mt. Mitchell Challenge is both historical and arduous. The race was founded in 1998 by Wendell Begley (of Black Mountain Savings) and Trent Thomas (from Black Dome Mountain Sports). They saw the need for a race designed to confront the challenges of nature with test of physical proportions, yet possible. Race terrain is not only steep, but mother nature offers challenges that could include ice, snow, rain, cold, and wildlife. Runner safety is of paramount concern to race coordinators who work with Black Mountain Fire and Rescue and many other skilled members from surrounding counties.
Best to all of this years participants, and stop by Take A Hike for last minute needs!
Started out this morning at 8:40 with the temperature at a chilly 10 degrees. I get to pick up my son today at 1:00 so better hurry. Got back around 12:45 and the temperature is 21 degrees. There were 2 people camping at the shelter and that was all that were out. So here we go…..
Remember the creek picture from yesterday? This is close to the beginning of the trail, about 1 plus inches on the ground.
As we moved up the mountain, the snow got deeper. By the end of the 4th switchback there was 3 to 4 inches. Leaving the switchbacks and heading toward the shelter was the first HARD fall all the way to the ground wipe-out of the day. This one didn’t hurt as bad as the others. While I have your attention there are a few observations to share with you.
1) Hiking in/on snow is a lot harder than regular trail walking.
2) Gaiters really help a lot.
3) Hiking poles are even more important in the Winter than the Summer.
My hiking poles.
4) Good boots that are properly fit and warm are essential.
Enough rambling – here are pictures approaching the 1st summit of Graybeard. The snow was a steady 6 inches with drifts from 8 to 10.
Remember that picture from yesterday?
A little bit of everything – Sun, sky, trees and snow.
Today is hike #6 for the season. The temperature at departure was 44 degrees, around 11ish. I got back around 2:15ish and the temp was 40. Only saw 3 people today and 1 dog. The wind has picked up quite a bit sense yesterday – obvious that the new cold front is moving in. Knowing that tomorrow is going to be totally different than today, there will be more pictures to contrast.
Flat Creek before the 1st creek crossing
The creek (flat creek) is flowing swiftly. The hurrying clouds take us from sunny to cloudy to sunny again and back. Depending on what side of the mountain you stand, the wind is whipping or still.
The hike up was uneventful. Things seemed to be shifting from warm and sunny to something is about to happen and we’re not sure what. I got past the switchbacks and the wind had really picked up but the sun had come out
The saddle just before Greybeard summit.
too. It really didn’t seem like a big storm was upon us.
Take note of the picture to the left – the Saddle. This will look totally different tomorrow.
I love how the clouds are making such a stark contrast on Mt. Mitchell and the Craggy Gardens. Notice how “black” things look on the mountain tops? That is how this range gets its name “Black Mountains”. Even more so with the sunshine in the foreground.
Over the watershed toward Craggy
Starting to snow at top of 4th switchback.
Coming back down things started to change. A lite snow at first and then almost a whiteout near near the bottom.
Don’t miss tomorrows blog for the dramatic outcome of this storm.
Lilli McFerrin has competed in the National Gingerbread House Competition at the Grove Park Inn since 2006. This year Lilli placed third in the teen category inspired by the movie Mary Poppins. Her gingerbread house, “A Spoon Full of Sugar,” was her final entry before heading to college next year. Click here to read an article featuring an interview with Lilli in the Mountain Express, and in the Black Mountain News.
The Basilica of St. Lawrence
In 2010 her masterpiece was inspired by the Basilica of St. Lawrence, home in downtown Asheville, NC. She placed first in the teen category in 2011 with “Santa’s Mountain Music & Dance,” influenced by the landscape at Warren Wilson College. In 2012, Lilli placed 3rd in the teen category with “The Yellow Submarine.”
The Yellow Submarine
Lilli I am so proud of you! It has been a joy to watch you grow into the beautiful and talented young woman you are! Love Dad