In a matter of weeks, the annual Black Mountain Marathon and Mount Mitchell Challenge participants will come together to face a grueling journey at 7 a.m. on Saturday, February 22. The Challengers will ascend 40 miles to the highest peak in the East – elevation 6,684 – and retrace the path back to the start/finish area. Marathoners will run up to the Black Mountain Gap overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway and retrace the route to finish.
The Mt. Mitchell Challenge is both historical and arduous. The race was founded in 1998 by Wendell Begley (of Black Mountain Savings) and Trent Thomas (from Black Dome Mountain Sports). They saw the need for a race designed to confront the challenges of nature with test of physical proportions, yet possible. Race terrain is not only steep, but mother nature offers challenges that could include ice, snow, rain, cold, and wildlife. Runner safety is of paramount concern to race coordinators who work with Black Mountain Fire and Rescue and many other skilled members from surrounding counties.
Best to all of this years participants, and stop by Take A Hike for last minute needs!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Lilli McFerrin has competed in the National Gingerbread House Competition at the Grove Park Inn since 2006. This year Lilli placed third in the teen category inspired by the movie Mary Poppins. Her gingerbread house, “A Spoon Full of Sugar,” was her final entry before heading to college next year. Click here to read an article featuring an interview with Lilli in the Mountain Express, and in the Black Mountain News.
In 2010 her masterpiece was inspired by the Basilica of St. Lawrence, home in downtown Asheville, NC. She placed first in the teen category in 2011 with “Santa’s Mountain Music & Dance,” influenced by the landscape at Warren Wilson College. In 2012, Lilli placed 3rd in the teen category with “The Yellow Submarine.”
Lilli I am so proud of you! It has been a joy to watch you grow into the beautiful and talented young woman you are! Love Dad
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
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 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.
Holly 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!