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Wednesday No. W1702-119                  Jun. 28
Charlies Bunion and Mt. Kephart                
8:00 AM
Hike 9.4, Drive 135, 2400 ft. ascent, Rated A-AA
Randy Fluharty, 828-423-9030, rfluharty54@gmail,com
SB6K, 900M First meeting place: Home Depot off Exit 44 of I-40. This scenic in-and-out hike will follow the AT from Newfound Gap to a spectacular lunch spot at Charlies Bunion. After lunch we’ll do a side trip to Mt. Kephart and the Jumpoff. Second meeting place: Maggie Valley P.O. at 8:30 AM, but contact leader first. Topo(s): Clingmans Dome, Mt. Le Conte, Mt. Guyot; also NatGeo map #317

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  Scout Report:  I scouted this hike with Steve Pierce as part of a longer hike. The hike is all on the AT except for the side trip to Mt Kephart, and is in good shape. From Newfound Gap, the trail climbs almost steadily to the junction with Boulevard Trail. There it descends past Icewater Springs Shelter to Charlies Bunion. We will have lunch on the Bunion, a rock outcropping with great views, but not a trail or location for those with a fear of heights.
On the return trip, we will take a short side trip up the Boulevard Trail and then right on the Mt. Kephart Trail to Jumpoff.    Randy Fluharty

Hike Report:  Cool. clear and sunny made this day perfect for our hike to Charlie's Bunion. Thirteen of us began hiking up the AT at 9:50, with the first 2.7 miles being primarily uphill, but not onerous. At the junction with Boulevard Trail, we had a snack break before covering the mostly downhill 1.3 miles to the Bunion where we had lunch. Returning on the same trail, we took a side trip up the Boulevard Trail a short distance and turned right on the Mount Kephart trail that leads to The Jump Off. This trail is rougher than the AT, with some difficult footing, but we all crested the top and then hiked down to The Jump Off where we got a glorious view of Charlie's Bunion and the surrounding mountains. Backtracking to the junction of the Boulevard Trail and the AT, we followed the AT back to the cars, arriving about 3:30. This is a really good hike, with a variety of terrain, great views, and pretty forest growth.    

Sunday No. A1703-469                  Jul. 2
Craggy Gardens to Bull Gap                
8:30 AM
Hike 8.7, Drive 45, 1650 ft. ascent, Rated B-A
Paula Massey, 828-299-0226, cell: 828-989-0003, massey.paula@gmail.com
AT-MST Only meeting place: Back parking lot of Folk Art Center. A pleasant hike on the MST starting at Craggy Gardens Visitor Center and featuring Lane Pinnacle and the Rattlesnake Lodge site. Great mountain views. Car shuttle. Topo(s): Montreat

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Half-Day No. H1703-591                  Jul. 2
Bent Creek Loop #13                
12:00 PM
Hike 5, Drive 6, 1200 ft. ascent, Rated C-B
Ron Navik, 585-662-8047, ron.navik@gmail.com
P400 First meeting place: Toys-R-Us on NC 191 across from Asheville Outlets. A pleasant walk along lesser-hiked trails and roads in Bent Creek, including Sidehill Connector, Lower Sidehill Trail, South Ridge Road, Chestnut Cove and Explorer Loop Trail. Topo(s): Skyland; also NatGeo map #780 & USFS Bent Creek Trails Map

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  Hike Report:  Ten hikers enjoyed a ramble through a lesser hiked section of Bent Creek. Although two hikers coming toward us reported they had turned around after spotting two bears near the trail, we continued on and apparently the bears left the area as our large group approached. One guest took the shortcut on the road back to the cars with two "assistants" after feeling some knee pain. She said she had not been hiking before, but promised to be back on future hikes after getting a little more experience with short distances. They all enjoyed the entertainment provided by several dogs splashing in the creek near the parking lot while they waited for the rest to complete the hike.
Large areas of blooming rhododendron and several other wildflowers brightened the trail.    

Wednesday No. W1703-883                  Jul. 5
Pin Oak Gap -Laurel Fork Shelter                
8:30 AM
Hike 8.2, Drive 110, 1500 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
Carroll Koepplinger, 828-667-0723, cell: 828-231-9444, cakoep29@gmail.com
900M First meeting place: Home Depot off Exit 44 of I-40. Enjoy a cool high-altitude hike on the Balsam Mountain Trail to our lunch spot at the Laurel Gap Shelter, and return on the same trail. Second meeting place: Maggie Valley Post Office,Maggie Valley Post Office at 9:00 AM. Topo(s): Luftee Knob; also NatGeo map #317

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  Hike Report:  We arrived at the trail head at 10:15 am. Eleven of us began the hike at 10:30 am and returned at 4:15 pm. The weather was quite humid with temps no higher than 70 degrees. Some portions of the trail were quite muddy due to the previous night rains. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch at the very fine Laurel Fork Shelter before returning. On the return one hiker slipped on a muddy descent and twisted her ankle. With assistance from other hikers (wraps, Advil & arm holding) the last mile or more was a slow process. Upon our return to the trail head we enjoyed ice cold watermelon.

An ice pack on the ankle on the long ride back to Asheville helped to reduce any swelling. We had two guests; Robert & Daniel, welcome and hope to see you on future CMC hikes.

Carroll    
  
Sunday No. A1703-365                  Jul. 9
Mt. Mitchell Ramble                
9:30 AM
Hike 8, Drive 65, 1400 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
Karen Lachow, cell: 703-395-5879, heyk127@hotmail.com and Elaine Tennen, cell: 805-660-0019, et10n@sbcglobal.net
SB6K Only meeting place: Back parking lot of Folk Art Center. We’ll do a loop on several trails in the Mt. Mitchell area, including the Old Mt. Mitchell Trail, Camp Alice Road and the Commissary Ridge Trail. There will be an optional side trip to Mt. Craig and/or Big Tom. Topo(s): Mt. Mitchell, Montreat; also PNF South Toe River, Mt. Mitchell & Big Ivy Trail Maps

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  Scout Report:  Note that the meeting time has changed to 8:30 AM.

On an overcast Friday in mid-June, Elaine, Karen, Bruce Bente and Bobbi McMullen stared Mother Nature in the eye and took a chance against threatening weather to scout this hike. We started the 6 mile loop after visiting the summit of Mt. Mitchell. The first 1.5 miles is technically challenging with a steep and narrow trail of rocks and roots which can be slippery if wet. Poles are highly recommended. We stopped for a rest 2 miles down at the park office when we lost the gamble as the skies opened up and started raining. We continued on hoping for a break but to quote Bruce later “the heavy rain was only where we were hiking, not down the mountain so I felt like Mother Nature was picking on us.” He said he has never been so wet hiking which is saying quite a lot. Due to the weather and time of day we weren’t able to hike Big Tom which is a 2 mile in/out bringing the total hike to 8 miles.

Expect grand views, beautiful forest scenery, flush toilets and snack bar. Temperatures can be as much as 20 degrees cooler so plan accordingly. In order to have enough time for Big Tom, we have moved the meeting time up to 8:30 AM. Let’s hope for clear and dry weather the day of the hike. Be sure to check breaking news if the weather forecast is calling for rain.

-Karen    

Half-Day No. H1703-578                  Jul. 9
Flat Laurel Creek Trail to Sam Knob Trail Junction                
12:30 PM
Hike 5.3, Drive 80, 800 ft. ascent, Rated C-C
Marcia Bromberg, 828-505-0471, cell: 860-798-9905, mwbromberg@yahoo.com
AT-MST First meeting place: Home Depot off Exit 44 of I-40. This is a pleasant, gentle hike for a summer afternoon with views of Sam Knob, Fork Ridge and Flat Laurel Creek along the way. After a short walk along NC 215, we'll hike up the Flat Laurel Creek Trail to its junction with the Sam Knob Trail, then return by the same path. Call hike leader if you plan to meet at the 2nd meeting place. Second meeting place: Gravel parking lot on NC 215 1/4 mile north of BRP at 1:15PM. Topo(s): Sam Knob; also NatGeo map #780

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  Hike Report:  It couldn't have been a nicer day for 20 hikers to enjoy a moderate hike on the Flat Laurel Creek Trail to our snack and turn-around point along the creek. On the way we saw waterfalls and views of the Middle Prong Wilderness and Sam Knob. We also ran into Andres Sarre, newly returned from Mexico. The two pictures show us enjoying our snack by the river and posing in front of an unnamed waterfall.    
     
Wednesday No. W1703-475                  Jul. 12
Hump Mountain and Yellow Mountain Area                
8:00 AM
Hike 9, Drive 140, 2400 ft. ascent, Rated B-AA
Jim & Judy Magura, cell: 828-606-3989, jqs290@gmail.com
Only meeting place: 160 Zillicoa St. (USFS parking lot) off Exit 25 of I-26. Beat the heat and join us along one of the most scenic areas on the AT near Roan Mountain (Roan-Unaka Range). We will hike from Roaring Creek Road to Yellow Mountain Gap, joining the A.T. along an open ridge to Little Hump Mtn. and Hump Mtn. We will have lunch on a grassy bald at 5587 ft. and return to Yellow Mtn. Gap, then take the Overmountain Victory Loop back to the trailhead. Topo(s): Carvers Gap, White Rocks Mtn.; also NatGeo map #783

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  Scout Report:  Hump Mountain and Yellow Mountain Area Scout Hike Posting - Hike date 7/10/2017
Definitely worth the drive given the cool hiking conditions, long range views of Roan Mountain and NC/TN. And for a little extra interest we made a short side trip to the only Barn Shelter on the AT. Since this was our first hike in the area, we downloaded the GPS from the web site, but discovered that either the AT had been rerouted or someone recorded a different route. The hike on the downloaded GPS Track was about 90% overgrown. Since we had some experienced adventurous hikers, we decided to split the group into two parties with one group taking the GPS route and the other group following the AT marker to the Little Hump, Big Hump gap. Eventually the GPS path did bring us back to the AT, but some steep slopes were encountered and some bushwhacking was required. In spite of this, the GPS trail was a bit quicker. But, we will be following the AT sign posts, and the GPS not so much on the scheduled hike. Obviously, an updated GPS Track is needed. We all made it to the Little Hump and Big Hump saddle, but then were forced to return due to a summer thunderstorm that was moving into the area. One more mile to the top remained. Fortunate for us, all we got was a cool sprinkling as the main storm did break up short of Roan High Peak. With good weather conditions, this is an excellent summer hike in the upper elevations.

2nd Meeting Place McDonald's in Burnsville at 8:45

    
     
Hike Report:  Perfect day for a hike in the Yellow Mountain Area, full sun, cool temperatures in the mid 70's and a light breeze on the balds. With 11 hikers ready to go, we departed the trail head at 9:45 with pleasant temperatures. Following a short .5 mile uphill we joined the AT and made a quick stop at the AT Barn Shelter. After a barn inspection, then up the trail through cool forest to the first bald with a view of Yellow Mountain and Roan High Peak. After a snack break on a rocky overlook we hiked down 400 feet to the gap with great views of the AT meandering up Hump Mountain. The trail uphill with a 600 foot climb appeared quite deceiving given the openness and distance to the top (a good Mile), and did in fact challenge and exercise the group. But great views were the reward and we arrived at the top at 12:50. The picture was taken just after our our lunch break by hiker that was passing by from the South. He was bribed with some chocolate. We did not linger too long at the top as thunder could be heard in the direction of Grandfather Mountain. We did confirm small pop-up thunderstorms on radar in the East. Heading back down at 1:15, we made good time and arrived at the parking lot at 3:40p. Photo is a long range view of Hump Mountain from the AT.    
     
Saturday No. A1703-375                  Jul. 15
Sams Gap to Rice Gap                
10:00 AM
Hike 7.5, Drive 50, 1200 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
Jay Bretz, 828-658-1220, cell: 828-318-2308, jbretz1220@gmail.com
AT-MST Only meeting place: 160 Zillicoa St. (USFS parking lot) off Exit 25 of I-26. An in-and-out hike on the A.T. in the beautiful open forest from Sams Gap to Rice Gap, with a visit to Hogback Ridge shelter built by CMC members. Topo(s): Sams Gap; also ATC TN-NC map #3

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  Hike Report:  8 fellow hikers enjoyed a ridge line hike on the AT from Sam's Gap to Rice Gap and back. We had lunch at the Hogback Shelter which was constructed by the Carolina Mountain Club. Several Turk Cap flowers and Black Cohosh were in bloom. On are return to Sam's Gap, we could hear thunder in the distance and were hopeful we would beat the impending rain. The rain did catch us during the last 10 minutes of the hike. It didn't dampen our spirits though. We all agreed the walk in the woods was a good day.    

Sunday No. A1703-883                  Jul. 16
Pin Oak Gap - Laurel Fork Shelter                
8:30 AM
Hike 8.2, Drive 110, 1500 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
Carroll Koepplinger, 828-667-0723, cell: 828-231-9444, cakoep29@gmail.com
900M First meeting place: Home Depot off Exit 44 of I-40. Enjoy a cool high-altitude hike on the Balsam Mountain Trail to our lunch spot at the Laurel Gap Shelter, and return on the same trail. Second meeting place: Maggie Valley Post Office at 9:00 AM. Topo(s): Luftee Knob; also NatGeo map #317

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  Hike Report:  Seven long time CMC hikers arrived at the trail head at 10:20 am and began the hike at 10:40 am.

Within a mile of the trail head we encounter two recent fall downs that were not there on my July 5th hike. I had planned on doing some maintenance on a fall down that was composed of many small branches so we were prepared with a couple of hand saws & a Sven Saw. We were ready for action! We were able to remove several of the smaller branches on the recent fall downs which were impeding the climb through the fall downs. We were also able to remove all of the small branches that were down across the entire trail. Thanks to all for the efforts!

We enjoyed a leisurely lunch at the very fine shelter. We encounter some light showers on the return. Fortunately several of the hikers put on rain gear, which of course, stopped the rain! The weather was humid with temps staying at 70 or below.

We enjoyed ice cold watermelon after the hike before the the long drive back to Asheville.

Carroll    
  
Half-Day No. H1703-447                  Jul. 16
MST: Mount Pisgah Parking Area to Beaver Dam Overlook                
11:00 AM
Hike 6.4, Drive 35, 400 ft. ascent, Rated B-C
Dick Zimmerer, 828-989-0480, dd1zz@yahoo.com
AT-MST, P400 Only meeting place: Toys-R-Us on NC 191 across from Asheville Outlets. This hike is a variation of hike #447. We will cover 6.4 miles on the MST. It is mostly downhill, with a total descent of 1400 feet. We’ll pass some unusual trees and boulders and hopefully the beautiful Turks Cap lilies will be in bloom. Short car shuttle. Topo(s): Cruso, Dunsmore Mountain; also NatGeo Map #780 & MST Profiles pp. 43-45

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  Scout Report:  Can you believe that 12 people showed up to help scout this hike on Wednesday July 12? Wow, is that a record for a scouting hike?? We were treated to lots of different wildflowers in bloom but only a few dozen Turks Caps - not the vast fields as usual because it's too early. So expect only a few more to be open by Sunday. All of us agreed that the over 6 miles hike down to Beaver Dam Overlook is too rigorous for a half-day Sunday hike so I will stop Sunday's hike at the Stony Bald Overlook which means a total of about 5.2 miles. The trail is in good shape for the entire length and you will enjoy the wildflowers and the "funny tree" (see photo). So come out and enjoy the day. Poles and shoes with good tread are strongly recommended as the first part of the hike has some slippery rocks to descend.    
  
Hike Report:  16 hikers braved threatening skies for this Sunday 1/2 day MST hike. (Skip to plot ending: it never did rain! Lucky people!) We shortened this planned hike somewhat by starting at Buck Springs Gap parking and finishing at Stony Bald Overlook. 5.4 miles, 900' up and 2100' down. The Turks Cap flowers just north of the Mills River Overlook were still not at peak and this may end up being not their best year due to lots of overgrowth. We did spot several small but beautiful patches all along the trail along with many other wildflowers, some of which are quite unusual.    
     
Wednesday No. W1703-619                  Jul. 19
Isom Mine, Cattail Creek                
8:00 AM
Hike 9, Drive 80, 1500 ft. ascent, Rated A-B
Beth Fluharty, 828-253-1626, cell: 828-231-5785, elfluharty@gmail.com
Only meeting place: 160 Zillicoa St. (USFS parking lot) off Exit 25 of I-26. We hike to the abandoned Isom mica mine, which has a 260-foot-deep vertical shaft and a 500-foot horizontal drainage shaft. We start from the last cabin up the Cattail Creek road and hike on abandoned logging roads and railroad grades. The trail crosses numerous pretty creeks. There are great views of the surrounding mountains, including the big ones along the Black Mountain Crest. Topo(s): Mt. Mitchell; also NatGeomap #779

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  Scout Report:  !!We need to require sign ups for this hike due to parking limits!!Please contact hike leader to sign up.

Randy and I spent a delightful day with John Whitehouse scouting this hike. It has several items of significance to the history of this area including an old mica mine and takes you through rich cove forest up into spruce fir habitat of the high elevations. There are several view points of the Blacks along the way. The trail is not well known or used much by hikers. The hike follows old railroad or truck roadbeds for the most part so the elevation gains are gradual however the hike is not easy due to the footing. It will give your ankles a good workout.

John suggested an addition to the hike as it is posted which we took and will take for the hike on the 19th. It involves leaving the loop for a spur up to the Black Mountain Crest trail (start of spur is located by red cross on the map). The spur insects with the Crest trail just below Celo Knob, we turned right and walked a little past the intersection with Woody Ridge Trail to a rock outcropping with views on both sides. We had lunch enjoying the views as well as the scenery and cool air of the spruce fir meadows. We returned on the spur and completed the loop on the map. This probably makes the hike a little over 11 miles.

We walked through tall grass, up rocky creek beds, around large mudpuddles, past briers and rock hopped across streams. Long pants, poles and waterproof boots are highly recommended. There are times that you cannot see where you are putting your feet because of the grass so poles are very important.

The last segment of the road to the hike starting point is about 3 miles on a single lane dirt road with sharp switchbacks. There is very little room for parking. While it can be negotiated carefully with a regular sedan, high clearance vehicles are preferred. Please email me to sign up for the hike and let me know if you are willing to drive and what type of vehicle you have.    Beth Fluharty

Hike Report:  We had a glorious day exploring the area around Isom Mine. John Whitehouse was able to join us and shared a lot of history of the area. The mountains have been viewed in many different ways over the years. We are fortunate to be able to have our current recreational view. We were also able to see how much difference the work of trail maintainers makes for our walking pleasure. John and Martin Stankus had spent a lot of time working on the trail and we could tell the difference that makes. A big thanks to all the folks who work every week on this chore all over our area!

The trail follows old railroad grades much of the time. There are some wonderful views of the Blacks along the way. There would be more of that during the winter. We enjoyed a gorgeous display of Turk's Cap Lilies and other summer wildflowers. There is a great waterfall both above and below the trail.

John and Sandy Whitehouse certainly set a new standard for trail hospitality! We had a real treat waiting for us back at their cabin where we had parked for this hike. Cold drinks and delicious hors d'oeuvres and a wonderful setting. It was hard to leave.

It was a long day, leaving at 8 and not returning till after 6 but well worth it. The hike itself was about 11 miles and took about 6.5 hours with the addition of the spur to the Crest Trail.

    
     
Youth Partnership No. Y1703-746                  Jul. 22
Bearwallow Mountain                
9:00 AM
Hike 2.5, Drive 80, 500 ft. ascent, Rated C-C
Kay Shurtleff, 828-749-9230, cell: 828-280-3226, kshurtleff@msn.com
YPC Form carpools at Toys-R-Us on NC 191 across from Asheville Outlets and meet leader(s) at Ingles on US 64 off Exit 49 of I-26 (Hendersonville) at 9:30 AM. We will hike to the grassy summit with a nearly 360-degree view. A historic fire lookout tower occupies the summit. Bring a kite for some awesome fun. Please contact leader beforehand so we can get a headcount. Topo(s): Bat Cave

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  Hike Report:  Seven youth hikers ascended Bearwallow Mountain on a hot day but their enthusiasm remained high. When our group of twelve reached the summit there were several soda cans that a group had left. The Youth hikers had a good lesson in Leave No Trace and cheerfully cleaned up the litter and packed it out. They also learned about the life of Clyde Curtis who resided on Bearwallow Mountain as the fire tower keeper from 1957 until 1992. They adults enjoyed the hike because all of the kids were such awesome hikers.    
     
Sunday No. A1703-044                  Jul. 23
Huntfish Falls and Gragg Prong                
8:00 AM
Hike 7.5, Drive 150, 1500 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
Les and Catherine Love, 828-658-1489, lesrlove55@gmail.com
WC100 First meeting place: River Ridge Shopping Center off Exit 53B of I-40. This hike in the Wilson Creek area features spectacular waterfalls and the best swimming anywhere. Two swimming holes, one on Gragg Prong and the other at Huntfish Falls. Bring your bathing suit. Be prepared for several wet-feet stream crossings. Second meeting place: Ingles off Exit 64 of I-40 at 8:20 AM. Topo(s): Grandfather Mtn.; also USFS Wilson Creek map and NatGeo map #779

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  Hike Report:  We had 13 hikers for a hot day, perfect for a swimming hike. Around noon the thunder started and continued for a couple of hours, but we only had light rain. We had lunch at the lower part of the Gragg Prong swimming area because of the big crowd (mainly young kids) at the top. Everyone was having a great time and we met lots of people headed in as we made our way to the road at Roseborough. The man-way down Timber Ridge to Huntfish Falls has eroded even more, so we've decided, when we lead this hike again, to do the full loop of Trail 262, as it will only add about a mile to the total distance. 10 of us enjoyed a delicious meal afterwards at My Father's Pizza in Black Mountain.    

Half-Day No. H1703-168                  Jul. 23
Pink Beds Loop                
12:00 PM
Hike 5, Drive 80, 200 ft. ascent, Rated C-C
Lee Belknap, 828-674-3631, rivergypsy@sprintmail.com
P400 Form carpools at Toys-R-Us on NC 191 across from Asheville Outlets and meet leader(s) at Pink Beds parking lot just north of the Cradle of Forestry on US 276 at 12:50 PM. A 5-mile hike on the Pink Beds Loop Trail. This regional favorite includes numerous boardwalks over and around beaver habitat through a beautiful forest. Topo(s): Shining Rock

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  Scout Report:      

Hike Report:  A fugitive situation in Pink Beds with closure of the national forest caused us to re-route the hike to the Frying Pan tower trail. 9 hikers started at the Pisgah Inn and saw many different wildflowers on the way to the tower. There were storms downwind of us that we could hear, and we had cell service so we could monitor them. After a snack at the tower where we had views to the west and south, Mt. Pisgah to the northeast, and a lot of rain to the southeast, we departed just as some rain caught up to us for a short while. All in all it was a fun hike with plenty of things to see.    
     
Wednesday No. W1703-375                  Jul. 26
Sams Gap to Rice Gap                
9:00 AM
Hike 7.5, Drive 50, 1800 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
Jay Bretz, 828-658-1220, cell: 828-318-2308, jbretz1220@gmail.com
AT-MST Only meeting place: 160 Zillicoa St. (USFS parking lot) off Exit 25 of I-26. An in-and-out hike on the A.T. in the beautiful open forest from Sams Gap to Rice Gap, with a visit to Hogback Ridge shelter, built by CMC members. Topo(s): Sams Gap

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  Hike Report:  Substituted leading for Jay today! Hot day, but, the hike was enjoyable through the shade of the woods. The rhododendrons were still in bloom along with the turks caps, cohosh, and other wildflowers. Ran into one thru hiker
when we lunched at the Hogback Ridge shelter. Lots of old friends and new friends!

Tish    

Saturday No. A1703-314                  Jul. 29
Grassy Ridge Mine Overlook to Balsam Gap                
9:00 AM
Hike 8.4, Drive 90, 300 ft. ascent, Rated B-C
Marcia Bromberg, 828-505-0471, mwbromberg@yahoo.com
AT-MST First meeting place: Home Depot off Exit 44 of I-40. Have you ever wanted to hike that long MST ridge down to Balsam Gap? Here is your chance in the downhill direction, enjoying the views along the way. NOTE: 1900' descent along good trail. Car shuttle. Second meeting place: Balsam Gap at 9:30 AM, but contact leader first. Topo(s): Hazelwood; also MST Trail Profiles, pp. 22-25

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  Scout Report:  This is a new hike for me and I was pleasantly surprised to discover how beautiful this little-used section of the MST is. We started out on a cool, misty morning and, along the way saw giant trees, beautiful mushrooms and a few views (although most were hidden by leafy trees). Although this is billed as a downhill hike (and we will go down 1900') it begins with a short uphill. The downhills come in bits and spurts with a few steep switchbacks, and even a few little uphills. But it is definitely worth the drive!    
     

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