Hike Report 110826

Hike Reports -  August 2011

----------- Full Day Weekend Hikes -------------

SUNDAY NO. A1103-100 July 24
Cheoah Bald via Bartram Trail *7:30 AM
Hike 13.5, Drive 140, 3800 ft. ascent, Rated AA-AA+
Brent Martin, 828-587-9453 (cell: 828-371-0347), brent_martin@tws.org
*Form carpools at Westgate, and meet leader at Nantahala Outdoor Center, across new bridge at 9:00 AM. This very strenuous hike will climb up and out of the Nantahala Gorge, offering a unique approach to the open summit of Cheoah Bald, one of the great scenic peaks south of the Smokies. Our return will be via the AT to NOC. Topo: Hewitt; also NatGeo map #785

SATURDAY NO. A1103-068 July 30
Big Butt from BRP 9:00 AM
Hike 7, Drive 55, 2200 ft. ascent, Rated B-AA
Tom Sanders, 828-252-6327, tomsanders@carolinamountainclub.org
We will take the Big Butt trail from Balsam Gap on the BRP, following the ridgeline to Big Butt (Yeates Knob), a short bushwhack at just under 6000 ft., and return via the same route. We will stop at Point Misery for lunch and views of the Black Mtns. Topos: Montreat, Mt. Mitchell; also NatGeo map #779 and South Toe River PNF map

  Six  people showed up for the Saturday, July 30, hike to Big Butt, also called Yeates Knob.  It was a hot day in Asheville, but the altitude of the hike was generally over 5500 ft, and this cooled things.  However, there was almost no breeze, and it was humid.  Five of us piled into Ted Connor's vehicle and headed for Balsam Gap on the BRP, now called Walker Knob Overlook, where we met Allyn Schneider from Burnsville.  This is a very nice hike with a variety of flora and periodic views.  The trail  follows a prominent ridge that is the southernmost part of the Black Mtn range, the curved part of a J.  Though mostly moderate, there are several steep and eroded sections that have been made easier  by numerous wood steps installed by whoever maintains it.  We reached Point Misery for a mid-morning break with its excellent panorama of the Blacks, though there were some clouds, esp. over Mt. Mitchell.  We then continued on to Big Butt, which features a quarter mile or so along a manway to the summit, with only a partial view.  We then returned to Point Misery for lunch before finishing at Balsam Gap.  This is a popular and moderate hike, easily accessible from Asheville when the BRP is open.  It is less than 8 miles, but also has 2 steep ascents as part of a 2300 ft. elevation climb.  Mary Lasher and Tom Sanders

SUNDAY NO. A1103-734 July 31 Jones Meadow to Allen Gap 8:30 AM
Hike 9, Drive 100, 900 ft. ascent, Rated A-C
Carroll Koepplinger, 828-667-0723, carrollkoepp@bellsouth.net
LTC This scenic hike climbs up to the AT from Jones Meadow, and then follows the AT south to Allen Gap, with a side trip to the Camp Creek Bald tower. There is a 3130 ft. descent. 6.5 mile car shuttle. Topos: Greystone, Davy Crockett Lake, Hot Springs; also NatGeo map #782

After leaving one car at Allens Gap six hikers piled into one car to drive up to the trail head at Jones Meadow.  As we drove to Jones Meadow the fog became thicker.  Upon arriving at Jones Meadow (after missing a turn in the fog) the long range views were only  imaginary images. Visibility was only about 100 – 200 ft.   As we began the hike the fog started to lift and the rest of the day was relatively cool until we started descending on the trail to lower elevations.  Enjoyed lunch at the Little Laurel Shelter.  There is little climbing on this trail with the majority being a gentle downhill hike.  Numerous flowers were observed along with only two other hikers.

We began the hike at 10 am and finished at about 3:15 pm.  The ice cold watermelon at the end of the hike put a nice cap on a pleasant day.

SUNDAY NO. A1103-363 Aug. 7
Three Forks (Bernard Elias Favorite Hike series #11) 8:00 AM
Hike 11.5, Drive 160, 3600 ft. ascent, Rated A-AA+
Ted Snyder, 864-638-3686, tedsnyderjr@bellsouth.net.
900M *Form carpools at Westgate, and meet leader at shuttle parking lot on US 441 in Cherokee at 9:00 AM (last drive on left before entering GSMNP). At a deep pool in a perched valley in the Smokies, three forks of Raven Fork join to jump-start its descent. First we climb a good trail from Round Bottom to Hyatt Bald. Then the fun starts. We take the manway (pseudonym for bushwhacking) out aptly-named Breakneck Ridge, by a massive, world-record red spruce, followed by a precipitous descent into the valley. Swim. Then claw our way back up. Three Forks is the acme of wild, remote grandeur. Topos: Bunches Bald, Smokemont, Luftee Knob, Mt. Guyot; also NatGeo Map #317

SUNDAY NO. A1103-246 Aug. 7
Around Coffee Pot Mountain *9:00 AM
Hike 7.5, Drive 40, 1400 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
Lenny Bernstein, 828-236-0192, lsberns@att.net
P400 We’ll circle Coffee Pot Mtn. by hiking up Trace Ridge Trail to Beaver Dam Gap on the BRP and returning on the Spencer Branch Trail, with a stop to see the Hendersonville Reservoir and dam. Topo: Dunsmore Mtn; also NatGeo map #780

SATURDAY NO. A1103-343 Aug. 13
Mount Mitchell Loop via Commissary Ridge *10:00 AM
Hike 7, Drive 60, 1500 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
Sawako Jager, 828-687-2547 (cell: 828-674-4067), baiko70@aol.com
LTC, SB6K *Only meeting place: back parking lot of Folk Art Center. We will hike from the Ranger Station to the summit, returning via the Camp Alice Road. Enjoy the view from the new Mt. Mitchell observation platform. Bring rain gear for the usual afternoon shower. Topos: Mt Mitchell, Montreat; also NatGeo map #779 and USFS South Toe River map

  In spite of the bear scare, a committed group of 8 hikers did the rather challenging hike to the summit of Mt. Mitchell.
Due to bear activity, Mt. Mitchell State Park has closed some trails including Mt. Mitchell trail and partial Commissary trail which forced us to change the hike route. We started from the Ranger Station then Commissary trail for warm-up before we steeply climbed Camp Alice trail to Mt. Mitchell. After we enjoyed our lunch and views we took the Old Mitchell trail and some hikers bagged the second SB6K peak, Mt. Hallback before we finished the loop hike. We saw lots of colorful wildflowers but alas poor blueberries this summer. Thanks everyone, it was a great day with wonderful friends and perfect weather!  Sawako

SUNDAY NO. A1103-120 Aug. 14
Charlies Bunion – Kephart Prong 8:00 AM
Hike 10.2, Drive 140, 1500 ft. ascent, Rated A-B
Les & Catherine Love, 828-658-1489, lesrlove@charter.net
900M An outstanding rock outcrop along the AT and stunning views are the highlights of the trip. From Newfound Gap, we’ll hike four miles to our lunch spot at Charlies Bunion, then hike Dry Sluice Gap, Grassy Branch and Kephart Prong Trails down to US 441. Note that this hike has 2800 ft. of descent. Car shuttle. Second meeting place: Maggie Valley Post Office, back of parking lot at 8:30 AM, but call leader first. Topos: Clingman’s Dome, Mt. Guyot, Smokemont; also NatGeo. map #317

  Nine hikers started in a hard rain at Newfound Gap, but after about 30 minutes the rain cleared.  The sun was shining for great views from our lunch spot at Charlie's Bunion.  Carroll K left at this point to fill in some miles toward his Smokies 900M.  Wildflowers were numerous on the 2800 ft descent down Grassy Branch & Kephart Prong.  Four of us enjoyed supper Guadalupe Cafe in Sylva.  Les Love


SUNDAY NO. A1103-357 Aug. 21
Pisgah Ridge Loop *8:30 AM
Hike 7.5, Drive 70, 1000 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
Janet Onan, 828-698-3237 (cell: 828-606-5188), janonan@bellsouth.net
WC100, P400 *Form carpools at Westgate, and meet leader at BRP Cold Mtn. Overlook at 9:05 AM. We’ll do a scenic circle of the entire Graveyard Fields area, using the Pisgah Ridge Trail and MST to lunch at a beautiful overlook. Then we’ll follow the Graveyard Ridge Trail, with a stop for swimming at one of the Yellowstone Falls and a little blueberry picking along the way. Topos: Shining Rock, Sam Knob; also NatGeo. map #780 and USFS Shining Rock & Middle Prong Wilderness map


------------- HALF DAY  HIKES -------------

HALF-DAY NO. H1103-043 July 24
Frying Pan Tower 11:00 AM
Hike 4, Drive 50, 400 ft. ascent, Rated C-C
Nonmembers, call leader: Bobbi Powers, 828-667-5419, bobbipowers@live.com
LTC, P400 *Form carpools at Westgate, and meet leader at Pisgah Inn parking lot near convenience store at 11:35 AM. This is an easy in-and-out hike through a spectacular display of wild flowers to good views from the tower. Topo:

On a steaming hot day in the "lower world," we enjoyed Mother Nature's air conditioning and her vibrant display of late-blooming wild flowers during this hike to Frying Pan Tower.  We began the hike with some trepidation under dark, threatening clouds, but the sky cleared, and the views from the tower with low-hanging clouds against the green mountains and blue sky backdrop were outstanding.  Sunshine and cool breezes accompanied us back to the trail head.

Kudos to members of Student Conservation Association for clearing this overgrown trail.  A team of high schoolers from all over the country (as far away as California) had just finished a herculean task of cutting through a vast quantity of black berry bushes and other undergrowth.  In some places, this trail is now 4" wide!  We thanked them profusely.  All enjoyed Blackberry Buckle back at the cars.

HALF-DAY NO. H1103-064 July 31
Fletcher Creek via Spencer Branch 12:30 PM
Hike 6, Drive 48, 800 ft. ascent, Rated B-C
Nonmembers, call leader: Greg Goodman, 828-684-9703, greggoodman@bellsouth.net
P400 From the Trace Ridge Trailhead, we will hike in a moderate loop along the Big Creek Trail, past the Hendersonville Reservoir, and along the Spencer Branch, Middle Fork and Fletcher Creek Trails. There will be a few stream crossings. Topo: Dunsmore Mtn.; also NatGeo map #780.

HALF-DAY NO. H1103-325 Aug. 7
Rich Mountain Fire Tower *12:30 PM
Hike 5.2, Drive 52, 1300 ft. ascent, Rated C-B
Nonmembers, call leader: Russ & Heather Cooper, 828-484-9562, cooper.hs@charter.net
LTC *Only meeting place: Rose's parking lot (opposite McDonald's) off Exit 19B of I-26 in Weaverville. This moderate in-and-out hike features great views from the Rich Mountain Fire Tower near Hot Springs. We follow the AT and then a short side trail to the fire tower and return via the AT. Topo: Hot Springs; also ATC TN-NC map #4

HALF-DAY NO. H1103-533 Aug. 14
Looking Glass Overlook to Cold Mountain Overlook *12:30 PM
Hike 5.2, Drive 70, 1550 ft. ascent, Rated C-B
Nonmembers, call leader: Lee Belknap, 828-698-9394, rivergypsy@sprintmail.com
P400 *Form carpools at Westgate, and meet leader at BRP Cold Mountain Overlook at 1:10 PM. This will be a pleasant ramble along the MST from Bridges Camp Gap to Pigeon Gap and the Cold Mountain Overlook. The highlight of the hike will be a fairly steep ascent to 5056 ft Green Knob, one of the best viewpoints on the MST. 5-mile car shuttle. Topo: Shining Rock; NatGeo map #780; also MST Profiles, pgs. 38-39

HALF-DAY NO. H1103-247 Aug. 21
Ivestor Gap Blueberry Hike *11:00 AM
Hike 5, Drive 65, 500 ft. ascent, Rated C-C
Nonmembers, call leader: Bonnie Allen, 828-645-0357, bonnie@allencats.com
P400, SB6K *Wilderness area – limit of 10 hikers. Call leader for reservation. Our traditional hike to the picking fields of Grassy Cove Top in the Shining Rock Wilderness. While others are picking blueberries, there is an optional hike to the top of 6000 ft Grassy Cove Top. Once we get to the blueberries, we plan on picking for 2 hours. Everyone should bring berry picking containers, hat and sunscreen. Second meeting place: BRP Cold Mountain Overlook at 11:40 AM. Topos: Sam Knob; Shining Rock; also NatGeo map #780.

----------------------  All Day Wednesday Hikes  ------------------------------


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   

WEDNESDAY NO. W1103-339 July 13
AT: Garenflo Gap to Hot Springs *9:00 AM
Hike 7.5, Drive 90, 1100 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
Tish Desjardins, cell: 828-380-1452, desraylet@aol.com
*Form carpools at Westgate, and meet leader at parking lot at corner of US 25/70 and NC 208 at 9:40 AM. This AT sequence hike offers nice variety, with a beautiful hardwood forest, Deer Park shelter and moderate climbs and descents. We’ll make a stop for ice cream in Hot Springs. Car shuttle. Topos: Lemon Gap, Spring Creek, Hot Springs; also AT TN-NC map #4

WEDNESDAY NO. W1103-734 July 20
Jones Meadow to Allen Gap 8:00 AM
Hike 9, Drive 100, 900 ft. ascent, Rated A-C
Carroll Koepplinger, 828-667-0723, carrollkoepp@bellsouth.net
LTC This scenic hike climbs up to the AT from Jones Meadow, and then follows the AT south to Allen Gap, with a side trip to the Camp Creek Bald tower. There is a 3130 ft. descent. 6.5 mile car shuttle. Topos: Greystone, Davy Crockett Lake, Hot Springs; also NatGeo map #782

WEDNESDAY NO. W1103-213 July 27
Pinnacle, Rocky Knob and Graybeard from BRP *8:30 AM
Hike 8, Drive 65, 2000 ft. ascent, Rated B-A
Lee Silver, 828-668-7147, (cell: 828-442-6549), mhsrunning@yahoo.com
*Only meeting place: back parking lot of Folk Art Center. Take a short climb on a maintained trail to see 360-degree views from Pinnacle. After a short backtrack, the hike switches to manways and follows ridgelines to Rocky Knob and Graybeard for more 360-degree views. A side trip to Walker Knob is a possible addition. The return trip will backtrack and then switch to an old logging road for the last part of the hike. Topos: Mt. Mitchell, Montreat

WEDNESDAY NO. W1103-053 Aug. 3
East Fork Pigeon River Swim Hike 8:30 AM
Hike 8.5, Drive 74, 1200 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
Barbara Morgan, 828-460-7066, barbc129@gmail.com
P400 Wilderness area, limit 10, so contact leader for reservation. The East Fork of the Pigeon River is a great place to be on a hot August day. We’ll hike in the morning, and on our return, we’ll have a chance to play in one of the many pools or just lounge on the rocks before heading back to our cars. Bring swimsuit, towel, etc. Second meeting place: Big East parking area on US 276, north of BRP at 9:15 AM Topo: Shining Rock; also NatGeo map #780

  Eight hikers joined me Wednesday to hike along and swim in the East Fork of the Pigeon River on what was forecasted to be one of the hottest days of the summer.  We enjoyed being on the shady side of the river on the hike up to a broad rock area where we had a snack break.  Then we started back down the trail to the first swim spot - a rocky pool with a Jacuzzi-like cascade to pummel our backs.  Bracingly cold!  Then on down the river to the wide, deep pool opposite Shining Creek.  Somehow it seemed warmer and we swam, played, rock sculpted, and enjoyed sitting on rocks placed at the end of the pool by others.  Back in dry clothes, we returned to the cars without getting hot.  A refreshing and relaxing day!  Barbara Morgan


WEDNESDAY NO. W1103-369 Aug. 10
Buckeye Gap-Bearpen Gap *10:00 AM
Hike 6 Drive 80, 1000 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
Bruce Bente, 828-692-0116, (cell:828-699-6296), bbente@bellsouth.net
P400 *Form carpools at Westgate, and meet leader at BRP Cold Mtn. Overlook at 10:40 AM. We will start by hiking a MST section that leads through a lush forest of spruce and birch where the forest floor is covered with mosses and ferns. We will stop for blueberry-picking in areas that have yielded abundant berries in past years. 2-mile car shuttle. Topo: Sam Knob; also NatGeo map #780

WEDNESDAY NO. W1103-539 Aug. 17
Downhill to Pilot Mountain *9:00 AM
Hike 6.3, Drive 70, 1800 ft. ascent, Rated B-A
Charlie Ferguson, 828-265-2677, ccf108@gmail.com
P400 *Form carpools at Westgate, and meet leader at BRP Cold Mountain Overlook at 9:40 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

WEDNESDAY NO. W1103-529 Aug. 24
Fletcher Fields & Spencer Branch 8:30 AM
Hike 8, Drive 60, 900 ft. ascent, Rated B-C
Greg Goodman, 828-684-9703, greggoodman@bellsouth.net
P400 *Form carpools at Westgate and meet leader at Trace Ridge Trailhead off FS 5000 at 9:00 AM. A delightful loop in the N. Mills River area along beautiful trails which follow branches and creeks in the area. Topo: Dunsmore Mtn.; also NatGeo map #780