Friends of Big Bend National Park
Big Bend Conservancy

Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

+-Calendar for sale

2020 Big Bend Chat Calendar

 2020 BigBendChat Calendar on sale now!


20 hours on the highest peak east of the Mississippi

  • 13 Replies
  • 4717 Views
*

Online mule ears

  • Administrator
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 4658
  • "He had to leave Texas but won't say why" McMurtry
    • 40 years of walking
20 hours on the highest peak east of the Mississippi
« on: August 14, 2008, 06:56:37 AM »
Another summer trip report as we all begin to return to daily life.

The highest point in the eastern United States is 170 miles from my farm. I can drive to the top in three and a half hours. Mt. Mitchell is the highest point (6684í) in the little known Black Mountain range. A short and narrow ridge line some 20 miles long but with 19 points above 6000 feet and six of the ten highest peaks in the East. Mt. Mitchell itself is in a tiny state park of only 1200 acres but it is surrounded by National Forest land and the NPS managed Blue Ridge Parkway (like the Natchez Trace, a long narrow corridor of a park but this one runs on the ridges). The Black Mountain crest is the only place I have hiked and climbed around on more times than Big Bend. It is my personal playground as I have walked all of its trails in most seasons and itís my hot weather refuge.

The produce farming season is long and relentless here in North Carolina (almost as hot and humid as Houston which is why I left out of there 33 years ago, and itís got more than 20,000 people). We run nonstop, essentially without a day off, from March until the beginning of August when we take a week off. We give the staff a paid week off and we mostly just hide out at the farm and donít answer the phone. Almost every year I sneak off to the Black Mountains for a night or two to sit on the highest rock around. This year I could only manage one night and just barely 20 hours. The first of the cold fronts that signal the beginning of the end of summer rolled through a day before, clearing the skies and dropping the humidity. Time to head to the mountain.

In the morning I had to make a small delivery, irrigate and then feed and water the turkeys before I left to smooth the way so my wife wouldnít have to deal with them (the key to marital bliss).

Left home at 1:00 and was on the trail by 4:45. Almost all the trails on the Blacks are tough and many straight up and down. One can do climbs of 4000í in five miles. When I donít have much time I have a short loop out to my favorite campsite. Starting at 6600í I drop 500í and then climb back up 500í in a mile to the top of the second highest point, Mt. Craig.
This is looking South from Mt. Craig you can see the state park facilities on Mt. Mitchell itself

This is looking north along the ridge line

Then in the next mile drop 1000í down to an old logging railroad grade and out to the campsite on a bald at 5600í. It sits on a side ridge on the east side of the main crest. Awesome, nearly 360, views with no other people or even bugs! Being 1000í below the mountain top also affords better weather, as like most big peaks, it has a way of attracting its own weather. Into camp by 6:45.

As usual the agenda is to sit and take in the views while enjoying a libation and a nice meal.
Note the backpackers cooler (blue sleeping bag with cold beers snuggled inside :icon_wink:) Mt. Craig in the background

Sleep out under the stars, have coffee and breakfast with the first rays of morning sun and then leisurely walk back to the car. It mostly went according to plan. Multiple fine English ales accompanied a Mexican rice dish with chicken topped with sungold tomatoes and serrano pepper from the farm.

Sorry had to put this one in for Homero, Sleepy, benthegrate and the other cooks out there

Not much of a sunset as it was cloudier than it should have been after a front and I did set up the tarp just in case it tried to rain but I started the night outside. About the time I was really asleep it started to lightly rain, damn, I moved under the tarp and slept through the night.

About 5:30 I was up as usual and moved back outside to a now nearly cloudless sky, the temperatures had dropped into the 50ís. I drifted back off but was up with a cup of coffee as the sun made its way over the ridge behind me.

The wild blueberries and blackberries were plentiful and so I added some blueberries from a bush only five feet from the sleeping bag to the morningís oatmeal.

More sloth and wandering around until 10:00 when I headed back to the car.

Five minutes down the trail I came around a corner and was stopped by something my eyes and brain didnít at first comprehend. It was two small black bear cubs laying on the edge of the trail eating the copious blueberries. They were as startled as I was and scampered down the hill. I stopped and pulled out the camera just in case and waited while I heard much thrashing around in the bushes. Seconds later Mom popped out, 10 feet away! She too was shocked and zipped across the trail and up the hill followed by one of the cubs. I waited for the last cub to follow and it did a minute later. I fired off two pictures, missed the cub and barely got Momís rear end headed into the bushes. This was only the second time I have seen bears in the East, Wow!

If you look close there is a black rump headed into the bushes on the right side of the trail just above the middle of the picture.

A few minutes later I scared up a large whitetail too. On around the front of the mountain on the old logging railroad grade took an hour and then the 1000í foot climb up the side of Mt. Mitchell itself and back to the car by 12:30. Barely 20 hours on the mountain but I had to get back to a family dinner. I listened to Robert Earl Keen on the way up the mountain and BeauSoleil on the way back down. Now it will be October until I can get back on the trail. If you are ever in the east (I know Randell gets this way on business sometimes) I suggest at least a drive on parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the side trip up to the top of Mt. Mitchell.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2008, 07:58:48 AM by mule ears »
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

*

BigBendHiker

  • Guest
Re: 20 hours on the highest peak east of the Mississippi
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2008, 07:16:30 AM »
Thanks for posting this one!  When I saw that it was about Mount Mitchell, I recall having a friend who used to race road bikes. They have an annual bike ride up the mountain called the Assault on Mount Mitchell.  He rode it several years ago. 


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Assault_on_Mount_Mitchell

BBH

*

Offline TheWildWestGuy

  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 1342
Re: 20 hours on the highest peak east of the Mississippi
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2008, 07:45:48 AM »
Thanks for posting Mule Ears, your lucky to live so close to such a nice natural asset even if you don't get to use it as much as you would like.   I like the way the trees look on top of the windswept peaks - looks transitional into alpine flora.   I have not eaten wild blueberries, huckleberries, or salmonberries in several years and miss them.   They look plentiful enough that you could graze all day on them.  Around here people pay $5/lb for the pleasure of picking blueberries off farmed bushes in the middle of a big field when it's 100 degree's.   They taste... well actually they have very little taste, kind of like eating tiny foam balls of blue colored nothingness.   TWWG

*

Offline russco

  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 217
  • Canyon Addict
Re: 20 hours on the highest peak east of the Mississippi
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2008, 08:57:57 AM »
Great report ME..Glad you got to get out! For some reason my Texan eyes couldn't spy a blueberry bush on our last trip east! :eusa_think: The rangers said they were in but we couldn't see any shaking bushes!
Carved upon my stone: my body lie but still I ROAM

*

Offline homerboy2u

  • The Chipewa Cris tribe,Canada:
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 5103
The Mississippi Bliss
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2008, 12:11:25 PM »
Pine trees, Blueridge Mountains,blueberries,redberries.....awsome camp cooking, serranos peppers,turkey legs,specatular weather, with all these burdens. When do you find time for yourself?.It has to be tough to live out in the boonies.....please, some more pictures. I never get enough of them.

 A beautiful place to live,ME. And i bet you miss the Texas weather too,just last Sunday we were hit with 115?F (46?C) here. :vomit:
Stay thirsty, my friends.

*

Online mule ears

  • Administrator
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 4658
  • "He had to leave Texas but won't say why" McMurtry
    • 40 years of walking
Re: 20 hours on the highest peak east of the Mississippi
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2008, 03:50:21 PM »
Thanks for posting this one!  When I saw that it was about Mount Mitchell, I recall having a friend who used to race road bikes. They have an annual bike ride up the mountain called the Assault on Mount Mitchell.  BBH

Yeah, the route I take up is the way the cyclists go and there are always several folks riding up the big climb.

I like the way the trees look on top of the windswept peaks - looks transitional into alpine flora.     Around here people pay $5/lb for the pleasure of picking blueberries off farmed bushes in the middle of a big field when it's 100 degree's.  They taste... well actually they have very little taste, kind of like eating tiny foam balls of blue colored nothingness.   TWWG

It is just high enough to get that almost alpine look but of course nothing above tree line. 

We also grow blueberries here on the farm and your right many of the cultivated varieties are not very good, the ones we grow are fantastic though, once had the pastry chef from The White House eat some of ours at a restaurant we sell to and he said they were the best he ever had. We get amost $10 a pound :icon_biggrin: but we have a lot of $ in the picking.

Great report ME..Glad you got to get out! For some reason my Texan eyes couldn't spy a blueberry bush on our last trip east! :eusa_think: The rangers said they were in but we couldn't see any shaking bushes!

Thanks russco, I was even surprised to see them as they are small on the bush.

Pine trees, Blueridge Mountains,blueberries,redberries.....awsome camp cooking, serranos peppers,turkey legs,specatular weather, with all these burdens. When do you find time for yourself?.It has to be tough to live out in the boonies.....please, some more pictures. I never get enough of them.

 A beautiful place to live,ME. And i bet you miss the Texas weather too,just last Sunday we were hit with 115?F (46?C) here. :vomit:

It's a hard life Homero but someone has to do it.  Yes I am glad I wasn't there for the 115 degree heat :icon_redface:
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

*

Offline House Made of Dawn

  • www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2YJduDyFA4
  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 3375
  • Backpacking since '78, Big Bend since '95.
Re: 20 hours on the highest peak east of the Mississippi
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2020, 08:43:20 PM »
Warning: this topic has not been posted in for at least 365 days.
Unless you're sure you want to reply, please consider starting a new topic.


Yes, I'm shamelessly resurrecting this thread because, despite being on BBC for a few years, I just read this TR for the very first time and I'm blown away by the excellence of the short trip. Well done, ME. I envy you.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

*

Offline Casa Grande

  • Site Founder
  • Administrator
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 6374
  • Bending It Since 1991
    • Virtual Big Bend
Re: 20 hours on the highest peak east of the Mississippi
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2020, 08:49:55 PM »
Oh yes. ME is legendary around these parts.  This is s good one to resurrect!

Sent from my pocket machine using Big Bend Chat mobile app


*

Online mule ears

  • Administrator
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 4658
  • "He had to leave Texas but won't say why" McMurtry
    • 40 years of walking
Re: 20 hours on the highest peak east of the Mississippi
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2020, 06:39:17 AM »
I still go out and camp there every August, kind of my annual reflective time.  Two summers ago, while sitting in camp after dinner I heard some rustling in the bushes behind me, I turned around and out popped a black bear 20 feet from me!   :icon_eek:  I jumped up and looked large and yelled, tossed a few rocks and he scampered off back down the hill.  I am sure a relative of one of those bears I saw 11 years ago.  It was too late to think about hiking out and I wasn't really worried, had a great nights sleep.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

*

Offline okiehiker

  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 773
  • cryptantha crassipses
Re: 20 hours on the highest peak east of the Mississippi
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2020, 09:19:36 AM »
I still go out and camp there every August, kind of my annual reflective time.  Two summers ago, while sitting in camp after dinner I heard some rustling in the bushes behind me, I turned around and out popped a black bear 20 feet from me!   :icon_eek:  I jumped up and looked large and yelled, tossed a few rocks and he scampered off back down the hill.  I am sure a relative of one of those bears I saw 11 years ago.  It was too late to think about hiking out and I wasn't really worried, had a great nights sleep.

Iím not sure how to link it... but my Nov. 8, 2006 post takes place largely on Mt. Mitchell. I made a dozen or so trips there from the 70ís through 2000. My personal favorite Peak is Celo Knob... but the area is remarkable.


Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat
Funny... I have a story about that...

*

Online mule ears

  • Administrator
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 4658
  • "He had to leave Texas but won't say why" McMurtry
    • 40 years of walking
Re: 20 hours on the highest peak east of the Mississippi
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2020, 12:43:25 PM »
I still go out and camp there every August, kind of my annual reflective time.  Two summers ago, while sitting in camp after dinner I heard some rustling in the bushes behind me, I turned around and out popped a black bear 20 feet from me!   :icon_eek:  I jumped up and looked large and yelled, tossed a few rocks and he scampered off back down the hill.  I am sure a relative of one of those bears I saw 11 years ago.  It was too late to think about hiking out and I wasn't really worried, had a great nights sleep.

Iím not sure how to link it... but my Nov. 8, 2006 post takes place largely on Mt. Mitchell. I made a dozen or so trips there from the 70ís through 2000. My personal favorite Peak is Celo Knob... but the area is remarkable.


Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat

I remember that post where you had to break into the museum building near the summit to get out of a storm.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

*

Offline House Made of Dawn

  • www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2YJduDyFA4
  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 3375
  • Backpacking since '78, Big Bend since '95.
Re: 20 hours on the highest peak east of the Mississippi
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2020, 12:48:58 PM »
I still go out and camp there every August, kind of my annual reflective time.  Two summers ago, while sitting in camp after dinner I heard some rustling in the bushes behind me, I turned around and out popped a black bear 20 feet from me!   :icon_eek:  I jumped up and looked large and yelled, tossed a few rocks and he scampered off back down the hill.  I am sure a relative of one of those bears I saw 11 years ago.  It was too late to think about hiking out and I wasn't really worried, had a great nights sleep.

Iím not sure how to link it... but my Nov. 8, 2006 post takes place largely on Mt. Mitchell. I made a dozen or so trips there from the 70ís through 2000. My personal favorite Peak is Celo Knob... but the area is remarkable.


I remember that post where you had to break into the museum building near the summit to get out of a storm.

Holy Cow!!!!!  I gotta go find that one.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

*

Offline House Made of Dawn

  • www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2YJduDyFA4
  • Golden Eagle
  • Mountain Lion
  • *
  • 3375
  • Backpacking since '78, Big Bend since '95.
Re: 20 hours on the highest peak east of the Mississippi
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2020, 01:32:27 PM »
Now THAT was quite an adventure.  Here it is, folks!  Beautiful story, Okiehiker, and well told.  Thanks, guys, for pointing me to that one from the wayback machine.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2020, 01:38:50 PM by House Made of Dawn »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

*

Offline okiehiker

  • Black Bear
  • *
  • 773
  • cryptantha crassipses
Re: 20 hours on the highest peak east of the Mississippi
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2020, 09:53:10 PM »
Now THAT was quite an adventure.  Here it is, folks!  Beautiful story, Okiehiker, and well told.  Thanks, guys, for pointing me to that one from the wayback machine.
On the same day here we get a post about night hiking and a post about the Black Mountains...
Everything is a circle and everything connects if you wait long enough... when the daughter I went to BIBE with 2 weeks ago was 15 we did an afternoon ascent of Celo Knob with a group of girls I coached in soccer. We did a descent at night down towards Brownís Creek. It was a 4000í drop in heavy forest cover. By midnight or so the girls were exhausted and continuing seemed to be more risk than reward...

I built a small fire and laid out a tarp on an area under the trees large enough to accommodate us. It was July but the night air was cold. We roasted marshmallows. But the girls started to get chilled... I gave Rachel a jacket, then Morgan... one girl after another. When I handed Diana (my daughter) a jacket she shrieked at me... ďYOU PLANNED THIS!Ē

In all honesty I didnít. When I was in college the Black Mountains were covered by Fraser fir lending the slopes their namesake black color.

Acid rain devastated the foliage and once clear slopes became littered with downed timber over the intervening 20 years. The climb and descent both were painfully slower than I had anticipated.

I had not planned it, but I was prepared for it. On any hike be prepared for whatever may happen. I always bring the things necessary for survival, but itís also good to bring things that make it nice for the people youíre with. A bag of marshmallows or a deck of cards is never amiss.

Regarding night vision, people are quickly socialized out of many inherent abilities. Yes we are diurnal, but only partially so. Artificial light has not been around long enough to be of evolutionary consequence. Our vision is better, our ability to navigate is better, our tolerance of physical discomfort and strenuous exertion are greater than we are taught.

Recovering these abilities doesnít happen overnight. But it takes time and effort. In the end though it is more than worth it.


Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat
Funny... I have a story about that...

 


©COPYRIGHT NOTICE

All photographs and content posted by members are to be considered copyrighted by their respective owners and may not be used for any purposes, commercial or otherwise, without permission.

+-Calendar For Sale

2020 Big Bend Chat Calendar

 2020 BigBendChat Calendar on sale now!

Powered by EzPortal

Facebook Comments