July 22, 2011 - Hike Reports

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All Day Saturday and Sunday hikes

 SATURDAY NO. A1102-599 June 25
Daniel Ridge-Caney Bottom – Cove Creek Falls Loop *8:40 AM
Hike 10, Drive 80, 1800 ft. ascent, Rated A-A
Brenda Worley, 828-684-8656, cell: 828-606-7297, clworley@bellsouth.net
P400, WC100 *Form carpools at Westgate, and meet leader at Pisgah Ranger Station at 9:15 AM. We’ll start with the 4-mile Daniel Ridge Loop, ending at Toms Springs Falls, a 100 foot falls. From these falls, we’ll follow an old FS road, go down an unmapped trail to Caney Bottom Trail. Here we’ll loop around to Cove Creek Trail and 60-foot Cove Creek Falls, then back to Caney Bottom Loop and eventually back to our cars on Davidson River Road (FS 475). Topo: Shining Rock; also NatGeo. map #780

    Six hikers, including myself, showed up for this hike.  We started out a little before 10AM on a clear morning which was cooler than recent history.

We had gone less than a mile when we encountered a representative of the Earth First movement.  As he lectured on his group's beliefs we walked off and were glad to see he didn't follow us.   We continued on along the beautiful creeks and came to Toms Creek Falls and started down the trail to our lunch spot at Cove Creek Falls.  We were joined there by a group from Brevard with their young children and dogs.  It was interesting to watch the young children jumping and walking in the water below the falls with no problems.  I had to use both walking sticks to keep from falling in the slippery pool.  After lunch, we took the Caney Bottom Loop around the top of the falls and went down another trail to the top of the falls where we found rappelling gear which had been used by two young men to rappel down to the bottom of the falls.  None of us were interested in trying it.  We arrived back at our cars about 3:35pm after an interesting and beautiful hike. Brenda Worley. Photo by bystander  

SUNDAY NO. A1102-135 June 26
Mt. Mitchell – Cattail Peak 10:00 AM
Hike 7, Drive 70, 1900 ft. ascent, Rated B-A
Bev MacDowell, 828-684-1000, bevmacdowell@charter.net
SB6K We will enjoy the great views as we hike the ups-and-downs of the Black Mountains Crest Trail as far as Cattail Peak for lunch, return via the same route, then walk the Balsam Nature Trail. Optional supper at the Mt. Mitchell Restaurant after the hike. Second meeting place: Craven Gap at 10:20 AM. Topo: Mt. Mitchell; also South Toe/Big Ivy FS map RG355 and NatGeo map #779

 We had 10 people on this rugged, beautiful hike.  There was a little rain as we reached Mt.Craig but that cleared by the time we lunched at Cattail Peak.

The remainder of the day we had views to enjoy!  Eight of us hiked up Mt. Mitchell (to make the total 3 bagged peaks on current SB6K list) and 6 of us enjoyed a well deserved supper at the Mt. Mitchell Restaurant.  We would all recommend the peach cobbler ala-mode!

Photo by Sawako Jager




SUNDAY NO. A1103-703 July 3
Tuckasegee Gorge (Bernard Elias Favorite Hike series #3) *8:15 AM
Hike 4, Drive 120, 700 ft. ascent, Rated C-C
Ted Snyder, 864-638-3686, tedsnyderjr@bellsouth.net
*Form carpools at Westgate, and meet leader at Toxaway Post Office (turn right from US 64 to NC 281 north and go 1.5 miles) at 9:30 AM. NOTE: Strenuous and very hazardous. For agile and experienced hikers with good balance. Requires shoes with non-slip soles for extended walking in stream on slippery rock. Sometimes this trip is named “The Potholes” after thousands of precision drilled potholes of every size. We climb over, under and through jumbles of bungalow-sized rocks in a de-watered river gorge. Lunch at Bonas Defeat. Swimming optional. Carry dry shoes for the hike out. Topos: Big Ridge, Lake Toxaway

 Thirteen hikers turned out in near perfect July weather to test themselves on the Tuckasegee Gorge. De-watered by Tanasee Dam, the gorge is the ultimate in rock-hopping. It is a rock mill-race into which rocks up to house size have tumbled from the beetling cliffs on each side. Lunch was enjoyed at Bonas Defeat, celebrated in hound dog lore. We marveled at the many potholes, some as precise as if made by a giant drill press. The deeper into the gorge we penetrated, the bigger the boulders became. We heard thunder while swimming at a convenient pool.

At the end of the day, as we neared our cars, it thundered again and a few scant drops of rain fell. We all agree this trip is a test of balance, the high jump, the long jump, and a little steep bushwhacking. But no one was heard to say: “Never again.” It took about five hours to traverse the gorge itself.

SUNDAY NO. A1103-267 July 10
Horsepasture River 8:00 AM
Hike 8, Drive 105, 2000 ft. ascent, Rated B-A
Kathleen Hannigan, 828-230-4883, Kathleen.hannigan@pgnmail.com
WC100 Swimming hike! Come to see the Gorges State Park area. We will begin the hike with a trip downstream to Windy Falls near Lake Jocassee. We will then return upstream to hike alongside the Horsepasture River to see the waterfalls – Rainbow, Turtleback, Drift and Stairway. Several swimming breaks will be taken. Second meeting place: Pisgah Forest Bi-lo at 8:35 AM. Topo: Reid; Also Sierra Club guide to Jocassee Gorges.

SATURDAY NO. A1103-539 July 16
Downhill to Pilot Mountain *10:00 AM
Hike 6.3, Drive 70, 1800 ft. ascent, Rated B-A
Charlie Ferguson, 828-265-2677 (cell: 828-778-2431), ccf108@gmail.com
P400 *Form carpools at Westgate, and meet leader at BRP Cold Mountain Overlook at 10:40 AM. Hike down the Art Loeb Trail from the parkway, starting at Shuck Ridge, down to Farlow Gap, over Sassafras Knob, down to Deep Gap and up to our Pilot Mountain lunch spot with its great views. We head back the same way, except going around Sassafras rather than over it. Topos: Sam Knob & Shining Rock; also NatGeo map #780

Photo by Lee Belknap








SUNDAY NO. A1103-047 July 17
Iron Mtn. Gap to Indian Grave Gap *7:45 AM
Hike 10.8, Drive 120, 2800 ft. ascent, Rated A-AA+
Jeff McGurk, cell: 864-921-6469, jbsbestfan@hotmail.com
*Although usually done as a key swap, this AT hike will be done as one-way with special arrangements, and a trail lunch will be provided at Beauty Spot. Hike limited to 15 people—contact leader for reservations. From Iron Mountain Gap we will hike several thousand feet up and over Unaka Mountain and then, after a short downhill, up to Beauty Spot for a leisurely lunch. After lunch, we will only have about 3-1/2 downhill miles to our cars. We should see a fair amount of wildflowers and a nice view from Beauty Spot. Topos: Unaka Mtn, Little Bald Knob; also NatGeo map #783 and AT TN-NC map #2

 Half-Day Hikes

HALF-DAY No. H1102-465 June 26
Flat Laurel Creek, Little Sam Knob, MST Loop 12:30 PM
Hike 6, Drive 80, 1000 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
Nonmembers, call leader, Joe Burchfield, 828-298-8413, Burchfield@niu.edu
P400 Beginning at the Sam Knob parking lot, hike Flat Laurel Creek Trail to Little Sam Knob Trail and enjoy views of Sam Knob. Turn up Sam Knob Trail with views of Little Sam and Mt. Hardy. Then head north on MST, with great views, to FS 816 and our cars. Second meeting place: BRP Cold Mtn. Overlook at 1:10 PM. MST Profiles book, pg. 34

 Standing in the rain at the Cold Mountain Overlook and facing the possibility of thunderstorms atop Sam Knob, several prospective hikers chose to return home.

Six of us, however, elected to attempt a more sheltered hike along the MST from Bridges Camp Gap to Green Knob, a part of the MST that was new to three of our number.  As a precaution, we left a car at Bennett Gap.

Almost as soon as we started, the weather cleared, so we had a very pleasant walk through the woods.  It was still clear when we passed the car at Bennett Gap, so we continued up to the viewpoints at the top of Green Knob before returning to the car.  Despite the uncertain weather forecast, it turned out to be a very good day. Joe Burchfield

Photo by Ted Connors



HALF-DAY NO. H1103-068 July 3
Balsam Gap to Little Butt 11:00 AM
Hike 4.6, Drive 55, 1300 ft. ascent, Rated C-B
Nonmembers, call leader: Jorge Munoz, 828-658-0606, jorgemunoz1927@hotmail.com
We will take the Big Butt trail from Balsam Gap on the BRP, following the ridgeline to Little Butt, a short bushwhack at almost 6000 ft, and return via the same route. We will stop at Point Misery for views of the Black Mtns. Topos: Montreat, Mt. Mitchell; also South Toe River PNF map.

HALF-DAY NO. H1103-666 *July 10
Pink Beds - Cradle of Forestry Loop 12:30 PM
Hike 5.6, Drive 90, 550 ft. ascent, Rated C-C
Nonmembers, call leader: Ashok Kudva, home: 828-698-7119, (cell: 828-674-1374), Ashok.Kudva@att.net
P400 *Form carpools at Westgate, and meet leader at the Pisgah Ranger Station at 1:10 PM. From the left branch of Pink Beds Loop Trail, we will go over the Barnett Branch Boardwalk, built by the CMC Friday Pisgah Crew last fall. After climbing over the Barnett Branch Trail and Soapstone Ridge around Rich Mountain, we will descend on a forest service road to the Cradle of Forestry. We will visit a logging locomotive and logging history placards before returning to the cars. Topo: Shining Rock; NatGeo map #780


Twenty hikers including 5 non-members and a special international CMC member, Andres Sarre who brought his gracious wife from Mexico on her first CMC hike,  paricipated in this hike. We paused at the Barnett Branch Boardwalk, built by CMC Friday Pisgah Crew.  Tom Joyce, one of the regular crew members,  was also on this hike and shared some moments during construction days.  One hiker found the steady climb enroute to Soapstone Ridge difficult, but finished the hike.  Photos by Ted Connors.

HALF-DAY NO. H1103-318 July 17
East Fork of Pigeon River *12:30 PM
Hike 5, Drive 74, 600 ft. ascent, Rated C-C
Nonmembers, call leader: Renate Rikkers, 828-298-9988, rerikkers@aol.com
P400 *Wilderness area – limit of 10 hikers. Call leader for reservation. This in-and-out hike starts at the Big East Fork parking lot and goes towards the headwaters of the Pigeon River. The river is crystal clear and we will have opportunities to go down to the river and play at one of the swimming holes—bring a swim suit if interested. Second meeting place: BRP Cold Mtn. Overlook at 1:10 PM. Topo: Shining Rock; also NatGeo map #780

  Wednesday Hikes

WEDNESDAY NO. W1102-459 June 29
MST: NC 128 to Greybeard overlook 8:00 AM
Hike 8.9, Drive 80. 2000 ft. ascent, Rated A-A
Ann Gleason. 828-859-9387, gleason.ann@gmail.com
We will head up into the cool old-growth Balsam and Spruce forests south of Mt Mitchell. There are several scenic overlooks and we will stop for lunch on one of them. Car Shuttle. Second Meeting Place: Craven Gap on BRP at 8:30 AM. Topos: Mt Mitchell, Montreat., Also MST profiles,p. 66-69.

 Photo by Ted Connors











WEDNESDAY NO. W1103-311 July 6
Panthertown Valley from East Entrance *8:30 AM
Hike 8-9, Drive 100, 1500 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
Jill Gottesman, 828-587-9453, (cell: 828-545-5236), jill_gottesman@tws.org
*Form carpools at Westgate, make stop at Pisgah Forest Bi-Lo at 9:00 AM for additional hikers, and meet leader on NC 281 NORTH, at intersection with US 64, at 9:20 AM. The intent is to enjoy a moderate hike, and visit some of the beautiful waterfalls in Panthertown valley. A dip in the water is a possibility. The exact route will be decided during a scouting hike. Topo: Big Ridge; also Guide to Panthertown map

 The hike description is the same as in our scout report, posted on the CMC website, but specifically we followed these trails: Start at Cold Mountain Gap Trailhead, Greenland Creek trail --> Mac's Gap trail --> Big Green Mtn trail --> spur to valley overlook --> Mac's Gap trail --> Granny Burrell Falls --> Quick unnamed cutoff to Panthertown Valley trail --> Powerline trail --> spur to Warden's Falls --> back to Panthertown Valley trail --> Little Green trail to Schoolhouse Falls --> switchback up to road and short trail back to trailhead.

Final hike distance (according to hikers GPS) was between 7.25 and 7.41 miles, 1100 feet elevation gain. Gentle grades the whole way except for the decent off Big Green down to Granny Burrell Falls.

Please add that the best view from the top of Big Green is at the third spur off to the left, but down that trail there is a small clearing with two trail choices. Take the trail to the left at that point, and beware of many user created trails winding through the rhododendron thicket.

The trail down from Big Green is under review for potential closure (very steep, highly eroded), so future hike leaders should check with USFS or Friends of Panthertown for an update. If it is closed, it would not add much time to double back down to the Great Wall trail and hike that past the shelter to Granny Burrell Falls.

We had a quick stop at the vista on the top of Big Green, and ate a long lunch at Granny Burrell Falls. Quick stops at the sand beach along the P. Valley trail and Warden's falls, and a longer stop at Schoolhouse Falls. When going down to Warden's Falls, follow the orange flagging--there are many user created trails, the flagging guides down to the best and safest viewing area.

In general Panthertown has many user created trails around the popular waterfalls, and it was very important to wait at junctions and to call back to hikers (especially with our large group of 16!). I talked about the geologic history at the vista, and talked about the human history at several points along the way.  Hikers were interested and asked questions--this is a great place to see glimpses of it's varied past (logging, railroad ties, plantation pine forest, etc.) and geologic splendor. A few people waded in the water, but on a day with full sun we could have planned a longer spot for play at Schoolhouse Falls.

1st meeting spot was Earth Fare, 2nd was at the Bi-Lo in Pisgah Forest, I met the hikers at the intersection of 64 and 281N, from there we took Cold Mtn Rd down 5 miles or so until it turned Left at the end, and after a few yards  the road to the trailhead is on the Right. Trailhead and USFS access was well marked from the road.

We arrived at the trailhead at 10:15 am, began the hike at 10:30, and ended the hike at 4:00 pm.  Weather started out cloudy and some slight drizzle, but sunny a