Graybeard Mountain 01-22-14

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…..

Flat Creek

Flat Creek

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.

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.

View from the top.

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Graybeard Mountain 01-21-14

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

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.

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.

Starting to snow at top of 4th switchback.

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.

Graybeard Mountain 11-23-13

This is hike #3 for the Fall season.  The temperature was 51 at noon when I left and 48 at 330 upon getting back.  The first of two fronts have moved thru pushing out most of the clouds and cooling things down a lot.

Looking south to High Windy and the Blue Ridge conference center

Looking south to High Windy and the Blue Ridge conference center

The picture to the left is taken from the first overview on the first switchback.

Freshly downed pine needles cushion the trail

Freshly downed pine needles cushion the trail

Next picture is the transition from the 3rd to the 4th switchback. The wind must have been howling the night before because the trail is covered with pine needles.

Cloud

Cloud over Pinnacle

Craggy and the Parkway

Craggy and the Parkway

Mitchell with a crown of clouds

Mitchell with a crown of clouds

This picture is the usual view of Craggy and the Parkway. I say usual but everyday is different and beautiful in its own way. On top, the wind is 20-25 constant with gusts well into the 30’s. I only lasted about two minutes on top and had to head down to the relative warmth of “out of the wind”  It might be another week before I get back up here.  Work calls.  If anyone is reading this, would love some feedback.  Still working on how to format and work with a blog.  Thanks for your patience.

Graybeard Mountain 11-22-13

Looking West Northwest over the head of the watershed and Craggy Gardens

Looking West Northwest over the head of the watershed and Craggy Gardens

Pinnacle Mtn in the foreground and Mount Mitchel in the background somewhere

Pinnacle Mtn in the foreground and Mount Mitchel in the background somewhere

The clouds contrast with the lush green of the rhododendron

The clouds contrast with the lush green of the rhododendron

OK, this is hike #2 for the Winter season.  I started out at about 12 noon with the temperature at 63.  There was no other car in the parking lot and the trail was slightly moist but not muddy.  About half way up the first switchback I was startled by the cutest little dog, my second thought was what a little trooper!  Then the parent came up shortly.  By the time I reached the summit the breeze was brisk and chilly and my breath was freezing.  Don’t know what the temperature was but it had to be in the 40’s.  The clouds rolled in and out.  Mount Mitchel was totally socked in.  This is some of my favorite weather to camp in – makes the coffee/tea taste much better and the sleeping bag feel real cozy.  The thought flashed into my mind, “Only a 4 1/2 mile hike to get this far into the backcountry”.  We truly live in a special place

On the way back down the sun peaked thru the clouds just long enough for a quick warm-up and to know that God is smiling on me – a little unexpected treat.  Everything is as it should be.  Also took some water this time.  The temperature was 64 back at the parking lot.

Graybeard Mountain 11-16-2013

Coming back down into the clouds and Rhododendrons.  This is a silent and peaceful winding down.  I never get tired of this!

Coming back down into the clouds and Rhododendrons. This is a silent and peaceful winding down. I never get tired of this!

Hiked up thru the clouds to a beautiful view of Craggy and Mitchell.  Everything is as it should be.

Hiked up thru the clouds to a beautiful view of Craggy and Mitchell. Everything is as it should be.

Top of the fourth switchback sun starting to peak thru.  Laurel, light and moisture coming together in a magnificent dance.

Top of the fourth switchback sun starting to peak thru. Laurel, light and moisture coming together in a magnificent dance.

Today was the first assent of Graybeard for the Fall. I had to wait for the first good freeze so the bee’s would be in hibernation. It started out nice and drizzly and 51 degrees at the trailhead. At the beginning of the first switchback started to get into the clouds. A great walk in the clouds up to the end of the fourth switchback and the light started filtering thru. The vertical picture tried to reflect that (not so well). The moisture on the Laurel and the sun reflecting off was a special treat. By the time I made it to the shelter all was sunny. Ok, so being the first hike of the season there were a couple of reminders about what and what not to do. First of all take some water. I didn’t and was plenty dehydrated by the end of the hike. Second, make sure not to over do it when first starting back. I did that also and am feeling it. This January thru April hiked Graybeard around 40 times and did not know how to blog. So now I am going to take pictures and share with you guys on a weekly basis. This is one of the best trails around and changes on a daily basis.

Hope you enjoy. John