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 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

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!

Time Lapsed Fall Foliage & Mountain Views

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

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!

What (Not) to Wear?

This time of year is a favorite for many people.  Cooler temperatures, fall treats, first fires in the stove, and awesome color across the mountains here in Western North Carolina. About the only predicament this time of year is early in the morning while it is still dark outside, one stands in front of their wardrobe deciding what (not) to wear.  Is it going to be cool, warm, a mix of both?  These brisk fall days begin with a chill but what will afternoon bring? If it’s cloudy, it may stay cool.  If you are out in the sun, then you will most likely be warm. Dilemma alert!

Well, we have a resolution this fall that could help you all throughout the day, regardless of the weather. Solution…a vest. Product specialist, Jim Bourdy, at Take A Hike says, “If you keep your guts warm, so are your extremities!”

Patagonia Women's Los Lobos Vest

Patagonia Women’s Los Lobos Vest

For women, the Patagonia Los Lobos Vest  has been difficult for us and the manufacturer to keep in stock.  It is a soft, deep-pile polyester fleece that is reversible to a smooth, polyester ripstop for all-around comfort.  It looks sharp and comes in a couple of different colors, so stop in before they are gone ladies!

For the men, the Patagonia Men’s Adze Vest is popular, offering core protection from wind, rain, and cold.  It features Polartec® Windbloc® stretch-woven fabric with a moisture-wicking fleece grid backer that keeps you warm and dry in cold conditions.

Whether rain, shine, or overcast conditions, your solution this fall is the vest!  Stop by Take A Hike for these and other vest options as you confront your wardrobe this fall!  Stay warm! Stay cool!  Just get outside!

Fall’s Arrival in Black Mountain, NC

Lake Tomahawk, Black Mountain, NC

Lake Tomahawk,
Black Mountain, NC

Fall is steadily creeping down the mountain peaks into the valley here in Black Mountain, NC. The sugar maples are turning the brightest reds on display in years. There should be ample color quilting the valleys this fall in spite of all the summer rain.

Today I went for a walk around beautiful Lake Tomahawk. I drank in the cool autumn air, while the sun and fall colors danced through the low-level clouds, chasing away the morning showers.  I love the clouds that wrap themselves around the mountain peeks like fingers.

Appalachian State experts Howard Neufeld and Michael Denslow project that Asheville and surrounding areas will peak this week, but it seems like it will be a little later for Black Mountain. We can probably look at the next 8-12 days for true peak leaf season here in Black Mountain, NC.  Whether you go for a stroll at a local park, head out for a day hike, or a camping trip, stop in to Take A Hike for suggestions on local hikes, maps, and your outfitting needs for a jaunt in the autumn air! Whatever you do, GO…you won’t regret putting your feet to the ground for a stroll in the leaves!

What’s Up with the Woolly Worm?

Woolly Worm

Woolly Worm

Just up the pass from Black Mountain, the annual Woolly Worm Festival is coming to Banner Elk, NC the weekend of October 19-20. What is the back story on the woolly worms ability to predict the coming winter?  Legend or fact? What do those different bands of color mean anyway?  Well, to find out let’s turn back time to the year 1948 and take a gander at the “woolly bear worm,” as it was originally named.

Dr. C.H. Curran, curator of insects at the American Museum of Natural History in New York went north to Bear Mountain State Park to inspect these woolly little creatures.  He collected as many of these furry wonders as he could find and correlated the average number of reddish-brown segments, which he predicted would forecasted the upcoming winter in the surrounding areas of the park in NY.  Dr. Curran continued to experiment with the bands of color on the woolly bear worms for the next 8 years (read more here).

What do the band colors mean anyways?  Well, the worms have black and brown bands that compete with each other for space on the worm’s body.  Black is associated with a more harsh winter, and brown points to more a more mild forecast.

What does that mean for Asheville?  Well, that means you will have to go up to Banner Elk on the weekend of October 19-20 to find out who the winner of the Woolly Worm Race will be.  Last year the winner was “Lucky Split” whose stripes predicted a harsher snowy winter.  Well, for the record Asheville recorded a total of 4.7 inches, so I will let you determine whether or not you think that is harsh or not.

Regardless the accuracy of the woolly worm to be able to forecast this winter’s snowfall or temperatures, head on up to Banner Elk, NC for some fun and simply because these worms are national news every year!  Enjoy the fall foliage and a drive in the country side. If you need anything for your travels, stop by Take A Hike before you go!

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!