Graybeard Mountain 01-20-14

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.

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.

11The view on top was special.  This has to be where “Carolina blue” came from.

                     The wind was quite and the view was spectacular.

Selfie

Selfie

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.

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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!

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