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.
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.
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.
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.
In 2011, Asheville was named as one of the most beautiful destinations in the continental United States by Good Morning America. Nothing has changed around here since then in regards to beauty. One never gets tired of the phenomenal expressions of grandeur that each of the four seasons unveils across the mountain landscape of Western North Carolina.
The Seven Sisters, Fall ’13
Explore Asheville features an amazing video of the fall foliage from last year that is quite stunning. Click here to watch this tribute to Asheville that takes you across the quilted colors of the fall mountains and valleys of WNC! Peak season is upon us and will soon pass, so get out, take a hike and enjoy!