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 #5 for the season. I was so busy with the retail season over the Christmas holiday and ordering for next Fall that hike #4 got lost in the shuffle. Now is the time that I do most of my hiking – no bees and a slower time at work.
Left the parking lot around noon with the temperature around 56. Got back around 3:30, temperature at 60! Really enjoyed todays hike. 26 other hikers and 2 dogs were out and about today. The weather man says artic vortex #2 heading in tomorrow.
Moving past the creek walk brought me to the relative
Mr. Oak taking a break.
openness of the switchbacks. The blue sky opened up and the sun was warm and bright. This is the day that the Lord hath made. After weeks of not hiking, the muscles needed some loosening up and the impureaties of the holiday foods and cheer needed to be worked out. I was able to relax a little and stretch this one out. Here is a mighty oak tree taking a break on a boulder.
The view on top was special. This has to be where “Carolina blue” came from.
The wind was quite and the view was spectacular.
The walk back down the swithbacks was the closest I’ve ever come to falling asleep while walking. The sun on my back was warm and I am tired.
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
The picture to the left is taken from the first overview on the first switchback.
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 over Pinnacle
Craggy and the Parkway
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.
Looking West Northwest over the head of the watershed and Craggy Gardens
Pinnacle Mtn in the foreground and Mount Mitchel in the background somewhere
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!