Mount Mitchell Challenge

Mitchell with a crown of clouds

Mitchell with a crown of clouds

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.

h20 bottleBest to all of this years participants, and stop by Take A Hike for last minute needs!

Winter Hiking Tips

TNF Day PackEven though we are in the middle of winter, it’s a great time of year to get out and hit a trail. Without the leaves, views are spectacular over the valleys and mountains!

You want to hike smart this time of year as day light hours are shorter, and weather can fluctuate hourly.  This is especially true if you are on ascending terrain.  So before you head out, here are a few tips.

First, be sure to layer your clothing.  Do not wear cotton as it traps sweat and makes you chill.  Wear a base layer such as Patagonia Capilene for wicking sweat away from the body and quick drying.  You could wear a hiking specific pant over your base layer, or a pair of shorts depending on weather.  Here in the mountains it is a good idea to have a warmth in layers, including a water repellent outer layer tucked away in a day pack just in case.

Second, take plenty of water and food.  It can be more challenging to stay hydrated this time of year due to cooler temperatures.  For a day hike, a water filtration system, Platypus, or a Nalgene will do the job.  If possible, hydrate well the day before a hike. Take packable food, such as a ProBar or another protein packed power bar.

sw sockThird, take care of your feet.  Smartwool socks are made of merino wool from New Zealand. They are not only comfortable, but they perform well in moisture management by allowing the body to maintain a more stable core temperature during exercise.

Fourth, take care of your head and fingers. For protection and warmth, take along a quality hat and gloves to keep your overall body temperature and extremities regulated. Another good emergency item for your pack is a head lamp.  Daylight diminishes quickly during these winter days, so having a back up light source that is hands free is optimal.

Finally, be sure to grab trekking poles and day pack to keep your layers, food, and any additional supplies organized.  Go light, but prepared for weather, terrain, and short daylight hours. Get out there and enjoy! If you need anything, be sure to stop by Take A Hike!

Holly Jolly

ChristmasHolly Jolly is a wonderful tradition in Black Mountain.  It is an event sponsored by Black Mountain Business to Business.  The streets are lit with luminaries, stores are open late offering refreshments to patrons in the spirit of community and the Christmas season. It’s happening TONIGHT from 5-9 p.m., so come out for a wonderful evening full of holiday festivity, reconnecting with old friends, and holiday shopping. There’s rumor that Santa and his elves are making an appearance, so be sure to find the jolly man himself on this amazingly warm December evening!

Small Business Saturday

Local T-Shirts

 “It’s All Good” Black Mountain, NC 

We hope that you had a memorable and wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Now that the rush of Black Friday is over, come out to see us on this beautiful day to support local businesses here in Black Mountain. We have a wide, colorful selection of local T-shirts that would make great holiday gifts featuring hiking trails, Mt. Mitchell, Black Mountain, the Appalachian Trail, and more! You can find long and short sleeve t’s, and sweatshirts.


We also have a vast selection of hats featuring the AT, Black Mountain, and the Take A Hike logo. John’s favorite trucker hat in the store features the Appalachian Trail, pictured left.

Come on by and say hello as you venture out on Small Business Saturday! Thank you for your support!

Beer City USA

The Ale House Black Mountain, NC

Asheville was voted Beer City USA in 2010, and came in 3rd place this year, respectively. The city and surrounding area has continued the momentum since 2010 with local breweries springing up all across the city. New Belgium Brewing out of Fort Collins, CO will be established here in Asheville by winter 2015. To sample the top breweries in Asheville you can jump on a Brews Cruise downtown to hop from bar to bar via shuttle.

Locally here in Black Mountain, I enjoy the atmosphere, food, and great selection of local micro brews at The Alehouse. I sat amongst friends the other night and we greatly enjoyed the atmosphere, brew, wings, buffalo chips, and hummus plate.  Everything we ordered was exceptionally good, and the service was fantastic.  The live music offered filled the room but did not crowd out the chatter amongst friends.  If you get a chance, you won’t regret supporting local business by stopping by the Alehouse for a micro brew and delightful food!

Asheville’s Fall Forecast

Fall Colour

Fall Color
Grave Yard Fields

A great debate going on right now as fall is causing us to nuzzle deeper under our covers each night.  Just how brilliant will the leaf color be this year?  When is peak week?  Will the leaves be muted tones due to all the rain this summer, or will they be like a bright quilt of various bold colors laid out over the mountains?

Signs are pointing to the change. Driving down I-40 East just beyond Black Mountain a few weeks ago, amidst a wall of green leafy trees stood one maple that was already turning to its reddish-orange hue.  So far from my time in the woods (which is frequent) I have seen a lot of yellows, some rusty reds, and browns.  Fall around Asheville is beautiful from any angle, but a brilliantly colored fall is a favorite for romping around with the crunch of fallen leaves beneath your feet.

Well, enough for opinions and observations.  Let’s turn to an expert on the subject, Howie Neufeld, Professor of Plant Ecophysiology at Appalachian State University.  He believes that if we get enough sunny cool days beginning in August and continuing on into September without much rainfall, the color forecast is hopeful (watch the video here). That’s good news, in spite of the rainy season behind us.

According to The Weather Corner Asheville has experienced not only the wettest season on record, but also the coolest.  So, it looks like Dr. Neufeld has called it as long as mother nature continues tracking on this path!  The Farmer’s Almanac has WNC peaking between October 12-28, and more specifically Dr. Neufeld’s report has Asheville peaking October 14, 2013.

Be sure to take some time in the next few weeks to live in the now moments that fall has to offer.  And come see us at Take A Hike for the latest in trekking equipment and advice on local hiking trails!

The Blue Ridge Parkway

Caney Fork Overlook  Elevation 5650

Caney Fork Overlook
Elevation 5650

I set out for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway a couple of weekends ago from East Asheville to Balsam Gap, NC.  It was a Jeep top-down kind of day on the dawn of it being officially fall.

I’ve lived in Asheville for 17 years, which I can hardly believe.  In those 17 years I have been on the BRP countless times, especially as a means of escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life down below. When I was in college the parkway was a dear friend that served to nurture my need for comfort on countless levels.  Not much has changed.  I still go up there to get comfort that my soul just can’t find at lower altitudes.  When I ascend the hills it is spiritual, and it was particularly so on this clear crisp day in mid September.

I honestly don’t ever remember a time like it – the clarity of the mountain terrain was surreal as the layers rippled out for miles, one atop the next.  At one point I just sat down in the grass and this was the sight that my eyes beheld, and even this picture does it little justice. It was the moment itself that enveloped me.  A moment in which I wasn’t thinking at all about work, decisions, bills, loved one’s, unknowns, or much of anything else.  I was present to the reality that I was alive to behold this moment one breath at a time, and a truly beautiful one it was.  Then I was struck with the truth sitting there looking out over the Blue’s, that it just doesn’t get any better than that down here.

Go do your heart some good and go for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, or Take A Hike.  Rest assured it will make the rest of the hours in your week that much lighter!

The North Carolina Arboretum

Bent Creek Trail

Bent Creek Trail

Today I ventured out on a hike through the woods at the North Carolina Arboretum with some friends.  It was an enchanting early fall day as a cool breeze accompanied the mix of sun and clouds.  It truly made for a perfect walk with very few people around, which was surprising. We hit the trail for an uphill climb on Hard Times Road and meandered a loop that consisted of about 4 miles in total.  The forest floor was beautiful and the surround sound consisted of chirping birds and stillness, aside from our occasional conversations.

If you have not been out to the Arboretum in awhile, I would encourage you to go.  It’s a worthy investment of for your eyes, ears, and heart!  The gardens are beautiful as always, and current exhibits consist of quilt art from the Western North Carolina quilters guild.  Bring your hiking shoes for the trails, which range from easy to moderate.  If you bike there are many trails available for that as well. Wherever you go, be sure to take advantage of these early fall days and get out to Take A Hike!

Little Buck Creek Hike

Little Buck Stream

The Sound of Serenity

There are many great hiking trails in Western North Carolina surrounding Asheville in every direction, including just over the hill in Marion, NC.  If you want to get away from people, the Pisgah Forest in Marion sports some serene paths, streams, and great hiking views.

This week I hiked a trail just off of Route 80 in Marion past Lake Tahoma off of Buck Creek Road.  There was a runner on the road and a fly fisherman on the stream, but little else.  It was a great fall day, about 68 degrees there in Marion and a friend and I hit the trail for a moderately challenging day in the boots with packs on back.

If you have never hiked in that area, I would encourage you to grab a companion and go exploring!  You won’t regret taking in the sites of pristine mountain creeks, hoping rocks, the smell of fall in the air, and getting in a great workout under the canopy of our beautiful blue Carolina sky.  The leaves are falling and the temperatures are dropping, so be sure to bring an extra layer and plenty of water to stay hydrated.  Go soon…you won’t regret it! And if you need a map, drop by Take A Hike!