Hike Report 11/10/28

Hike Reports October 2011

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

 

OVERNIGHT WEEKEND Sept. 24-25
Paul Benson, cell: 828-273-2098, pdbenson@charter.net
Fontana overnight - we'll do two sections of the AT just south of scenic and interesting Fontana Dam (see descriptions below.). Since this is a relatively long drive from Asheville, the leader is planning a Saturday and a Sunday day hike, with the option of staying in the Fontana Village area where there are a variety of accommodations available ranging from shelter space in the "Fontana Hilton" AT shelter to real beds in Fontana Village.
 
SATURDAY NO. A1103-497 Sept. 24
Yellow Creek Gap to Fontana Dam 7:30 AM
Hike 7.8, Drive 200, 1100 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
We'll hike the first section of AT south of Fontana Dam, beginning at Yellow Creek Gap and heading northbound, descending approximately 2100 ft. to Fontana Dam, and conclude with a visit to the spectacular Fontana Dam visitor center (if the national terrorist threat level is not too high). 12 mile car shuttle.
 
SUNDAY A1103-456 Sept. 25
Yellow Creek Gap to Stecoah Gap 9:00 AM at Stecoah Gap
Hike 8.5, Drive 190, 1900 ft. ascent, Rated B-A
We'll begin at Yellow Gap this time, heading southbound to Stecoah Gap on the second southbound section from Fontana Dam along an up-and-down path over the Cheoah Mountains, with a short side trip to Wauchecha Bald to view what remains of the old fire tower. 10-mile car shuttle.

SATURDAY NO. A1103-367 Sept. 24
Art Loeb, Grassy Cove Ridge to Bridges Camp Gap *8:30 AM
Hike 8.5, Drive 65, 1650 ft. ascent, Rated A-A
Brenda Worley, 828-684-8656, clworley@bellsouth.net
P400, SB6K *Form carpools at Westgate, and meet leader at BRP Cold Mtn. Overlook at 9:10 AM. Wilderness area, limit 10, so contact leader for reservation. Beginning with a climb up to Black Balsam (6214 ft.) we’ll follow the ridgeline to Tennent Mtn (6040 ft.) and Ivestor Gap. Then we’ll hike down Grassy Cove Ridge to the Big East Fork of the Pigeon River. Two stream crossings, one or both of which will be wet. From there we’ll hike to Skinny Dip Falls, and then end at Bridges Camp Gap. Car shuttle. Topo: Shining Rock; also NatGeo. map #780

        This hike was canceled due to hazardous trail conditions. 
        Very steep downhills and wet water crossings make this hike
        hazardous when very wet.   Brenda Worley

SUNDAY NO. A1103-273 Sept. 25
Boogerman Trail and more 8:30 AM
Hike9.5, Drive 90, 1300 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
Mike Knies, 828-628-6712, knies06@att.net
900M A lush forest with giant old-growth trees, stone walls and a root cellar make this a favorite loop hike in the Cataloochee area of the Smokies. In addition to the regular hike, we’ll also add a mile of bushwhacking to explore homesites and cemeteries which were found during a scouting trip. Second meeting place: Exxon station at Exit 20 off I-40 at 9:00 AM.  Topos: Cove Creek Gap, Dellwood; also NatGeo map #317

"We had wonderful weather, 11 stalwarts for a hike loaded with variety and exploration.  We investigated and discussed  the home sites, stone fences,  old machinery, cemeteries and lives of former residents of Cataloochee.  Additionally we saw snakes and huge trees with a fun one mile bushwhack  around Horsepen Ridge!!  Because of broken foot bridge we hiked out over Big Fork Ridge.  There was a huge crowd gathered all along the road to tailgate, view and photograph the Elk.  "
-reported by Mike Knies

HIKING WEEKEND Sept. 30-Oct. 2
North Georgia State Parks
Danny Bernstein, 828-236-0192, hikertohiker.com
Hike in three north Georgia State Parks and into Chattahoochee Nat'l. Forest. We'll stay at Unicoi State Park where you can also swim or boat in a lake. We'll walk into Helen, a funky tourist town. Make your lodge, cabin or tentsite reservations at www.gastateparks.org/info/unicoi soon and let the leader know that you're coming. Full details are posted in the E-News.

SUNDAY NO. A1104-697 Oct. 9
Silers Bald *8:30 AM
(Bernard Elias Favorite Hike series #13)
Hike 9, Drive 150, 2800 ft. ascent, Rated A-AA
Ted Snyder, 864-638-3686, tedsnyderjr@bellsouth.net
900M, SB6K *Form carpools at Ingles parking lot on NC 191 across from Biltmore Square Mall, and meet leader at 9:30 AM at parking lot of new Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Great Smoky Mountains Nat'l. Park north of Cherokee on US 441. Early fall, but at this altitude some of the leaves will be down, opening views in all directions as we hike the mile high, narrow ridgeline from Clingmans Dome to Silers Bald. Two named peaks over 6K, Mt. Buckley and Clingmans Dome. Topos: Clingmans Dome; Silers Bald. NatGeo Maps #316 and #317

          This was the last hike in the Bernard Elias Favorite Hikes Series. Sixteen hikers made up the party for this one, largest group for any in the series. Skies were cloudy, but intermittently there were stretches of sunshine.  A good breeze added to a need for exertion to keep warm. Temperature in the mid-50s.   

          The atmosphere was clear, with crisp views out to about twenty miles. The fall colors were at their peak and spread in an impressive display below us, on both sides of the ridge.

          We took the Clingman’s Dome bypass trail from the parking lot up to the Appalachian Trail. Then we hiked west on the narrow spine of a ridge to Silers Bald. After lunch on the bald, and some identification of distant vegetation, we retraced our way. But, on the return we continued on the AT to the summit of Clingman’s Dome, and everyone climbed the tower. Atop the tower every one of us was placed in photos taken by unknown visitors; the identity of our group members will remain an eternal mystery.

          Thank you, Bernard. Your thoughtfulness in sending us your thirteen favorite hikes has given us an exceptional and super hikeworthy experience.

`Ted Snyder. 9 October 2011.

SATURDAY NO. A1104-349 Oct. 15
Buck Spring Trail uphill *10:00 AM
Hike 6.2, Drive 60, 1200 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
Bev MacDowell, 828-684-1000, bevmacdowell@charter.net
P400 *First meeting place: back parking lot of Folk Art Center. Second Meeting Place: Pisgah Inn parking lot, near convenience store, at 10:35 AM. This pleasant hike starts at US 276 and ends at Pisgah Inn. Possible late lunch at Pisgah Inn. Car shuttle. Topos: Shining Rock, Cruso; also MST Profiles book, pg. 40-41

SUNDAY NO. A1104-082 Oct. 16
The Blacks Beyond 6000 *7:30 AM
(joint hike with Greenville Natural History Assn.)
Hike 11.3, Drive 70-80, 3000 ft. (northbound) or 6000 ft. (southbound) ascent, Rated A-AA+
Don Gardner, 828-754-4067, gardog3@bellsouth.net (northbound) & Lisa Hart, 828-450-6986, tiw.south@gmail.com (southbound)
SB6K, LTC *First meeting place: back parking lot of Folk Art Center. Second meeting place: Phone a leader. Key-swap hike. This is your chance to bag seven SB6K peaks on this very strenuous hike. The southbound initial climb is 3100 ft., and there's much more climbing in the ups and downs between peaks. North-bounders get to descend the 3100 ft. The hike is great fun with incomparable views, but do not consider this unless you are in top shape. Bring extra water. Participants must phone a leader beforehand. Topos: Celo, Mt. Mitchell; also PNF South Toe River, Mount Mitchell & Big Ivy Trail Map

SUNDAY NO. A1104-737 Oct. 23
Noland Divide Trail *7:30 AM
Hike 11.6, Drive 160, 700 ft. ascent, 4800 ft. descent, Rated A-C
Mike Knies, 828-628-6712, knies06@att.net
900M *Only meeting place: Ingles parking lot on NC 191 across from Biltmore Square Mall. We had such a good time hiking down the Sugarland Mountain trail in April that we decided to do a similar hike on the North Carolina side. This hike will feature a dramatic seasonal change as we descend from 5929 ft. to 1780 ft. Hike through a magnificent stand of red spruce near the top and watch the vegetation change as we descend. Hikers must register with leader beforehand so that car shuttle arrangements can be made. The leader is investigating the possibility of hiring a bus to eliminate the long shuttle time, and will provide info when you register. Long car shuttle. Topos: Clingmans Dome, Bryson City; also NatGeo maps #317

We had 22 participants from 3 different clubs taking 4 different routes from various locations on Clingman's Dome Road to Deep and Noland Creeks.  The weather was perfect with clear skies, little wind and temperature in the 60's. There was a little snow in shaded locations at the higher elevation, and leaves were off the trees on the heights for good views but barely past their peak lower down for the perfect combination.  The view from Lonesome Pine Overlook on the Noland Divide Trail was spectacular as we could see the whole Tuckaseegee River Valley laid out in front of us in a panorama of endless colors.  The hike  makes for an extended day and requires a long shuttle.  We hired a bus to make it easier.  The rewards were worth many times our time and effort!!    -reported by Michael Knies

This was the first time that CMC has used a shuttle bus, and it worked out very well, saving well over an hour of driving shuttle cars up the mountain to get our cars.  The bus was chartered from the Cherokee Boys Club by Mike Knies, and the bus can hold up to 40 people.  The cost was $10 each for our 22 people. -reported by Bruce Bente

 
SATURDAY NO. A1104-736 Oct. 29
Cove Creek Gap to Gooseberry Knob *8:15 AM
Hike 11.7, Drive 85, 2450 ft. ascent, Rated A-AA
Ashok Kudva, 828-698-7119, (cell 828-674-1374), ashok.kudva@att.net
900M *First meeting place: Ingles parking lot on NC 191 across from Biltmore Square Mall. Second meeting place: Pilot Truck Stop at I-40 Exit #24 at 8:35 AM, but call leader beforehand. If it is clear, we will experience spectacular views as we hike to the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center facing Purchase Knob and then to Gooseberry Knob. We will hike the Cataloochee Divide Trail for a long but moderate hike. Limited trail-head parking space may add 0.8 mile distance and 10 minutes of easy walking. NOTE: If the Science Center gate is open, we may substitute a different hike in this area. Topos: Cove Creek Gap, Dellwood, also NatGeo. Map #317
   Photos by Danny Bernstein 

----------Half-Day Hikes----------

HALF-DAY NO. H1103-465 Sept. 25 - New Meeting Place: Ingles across from Biltmore Square Mall
Sam Knob 12:30 PM
Hike 4, Drive 80, 900 ft. ascent, Rated C-C
Nonmembers, call leader: Chris Allen, 828-645-0357, chrispallen@me.com
P400 Beginning at the Sam Knob parking lot, hike the Sam Knob trail up to the summit of Sam Knob with its two peaks and fabulous 360 degree views, including the other Balsam Mountains, Hardy, Little Sam and others. Back down and turn left toward the junction with the Flat Laurel Creek Trail and take it back to the parking lot. Fall colors should be quite nice. Second meeting place: BRP Cold Mountain Overlook at 1:10 PM. Topo: Sam Knob; also NatGeo map #780

HALF-DAY NO. H1104-665 Oct. 2
NC 128 - Waterfall *11:00 AM
Hike 6, Drive 62, 500 ft. ascent, Rated C-C
Nonmembers, call leader: Maggie Marshall, cell: 828-772-4286, Maggie.marshall@yahoo.com
*Only meeting place: back parking lot of Folk Art Center. A gentle hike along the MST to a lovely waterfall and return. We'll have early fall views along the BRP on the drive up to Mt. Mitchell Rd. where the hike begins.
Topos: Montreat, Mt. Mitchell

HALF-DAY NO. H1104-699 Oct. 9
Pisgah Loop II *12:00 PM
Hike 6, Drive 70, 1500 ft. ascent, Rated C-B
Nonmembers, call leader: Ashok Kudva, 828-698-7119, cell: 828-674-1374 ashok.kudva@att.net
P400, WC100 *Form carpools at Ingles parking lot on NC 191 across from Biltmore Square Mall, and meet leader at BRP Cold Mtn. Overlook at 12:30 PM. We will hike the Boundary Trail and MST to Skinny Dip Falls, returning via the MST and Graveyard Fields. Expect bright fall colors along the trails. Topos: Sam Knob, Shining Rock; also NatGeo map #780

          Sixteen hikers enjoyed a beautiful fall day with magnificent foliage color on a hike route previously used as an all day hike with two swim breaks in the summer. Parking at the seldom used John Rock Overlook parking area was an advantage especially due to heavy tourist traffic at Graveyards Fields and Looking Glass Overlooks.  Ashok

Photos by Ted Connors

HALF-DAY NO. H1104-453 Oct. 16
Max Patch Loop *12:00 PM
Hike 5.5, Drive 104, 800 ft. ascent, Rated C-C
Nonmembers, call leader: Gail Lamb, 828-338-0443, galmb46@bellsouth.net
*First meeting place: Ingles parking lot on NC 191 across from Biltmore Square Mall. Second meeting place: Pilot Truck Stop I-40 Exit 24 at 12:30 PM, but call leader first. Awesome 360 degree panoramic views of fall color from summit of Max Patch make this a favorite hike. Topo: Lemon Gap

HALF-DAY NO. H1104-464 Oct. 23
Balsam Gap to Greybeard Overlook *12:00 PM
Hike 3.9, Drive 44, 1030 ft. ascent, Rated C-B
Nonmembers, call leader: Renate Rikkers, 828-298-9988, rerikkers@aol.com
*First meeting place: rear parking lot of Folk Art Center; another stop will be made at Craven Gap at 12:10 PM. This one-way 3 1/2 - 4-hour hike is over an enjoyable section of the MST that takes us through a wide variety of environments, from rugged high elevation vegetation, lichen-covered rocks and gnarled trees, a stretch of lovely beech forest to long range views from an open bald with late fall wildflower meadows. Please wear sturdy foot wear for this rocky trail! Topo: Montreat

10 hikers (including a visitor from Holland) enjoyed one of the last bright and sunny fall afternoons, appreciating each other's company and the many different environments this 4-mile stretch of the MST meanders through.  At these higher elevations, all leaves were down, offering open views at many points along the way.  A special treat at this late fall time of year is the abundance of bright red mountain ash berries sparkling against the clear blue sky. 

Along with a bit of sweating on some of the steeper sections of the trail, we also crunched our way through stretches of rime ice accumulated on shaded sections and admired hefty icicles on dripping rock in several spots. We admired and photographed the many ancient, gnarled trees that make this trail so special, and the long stretches of beech forest and native high elevation grasses.

Midway into the hike, an open blueberry bald is the perfect spot for a break, with unrestricted spectacular views and a chance to talk to each other after walking single file on this narrow trail....

At a comfortable pace, and with 20 minutes at the blueberry bald and regular water breaks along the way, this hike takes four hours.   Renate Rikkers

Photo by Gerry McNabb

----------Wednesday Hikes----------

WEDNESDAY NO. W1103-736 Sept. 28
Cove Creek Gap to Gooseberry Knob 8:00 AM
Hike 11.7 or 12.9*, Drive 85, 2450 or 2700* ft. ascent, Rated A-AA or *AA-AA
Ashok Kudva, 828-698-7119, (cell 828-674-1374), ashok.kudva@att.net
900M If it is clear, we will experience some of the most spectacular views in WNC as we hike to the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center facing Purchase Knob and then to Gooseberry Knob. We will hike the Cataloochee Divide Trail for a long but moderate hike. Optional side trip to historic Ferguson Cabin *adds 1.2 miles and 250 feet. Limited trail-head parking space may add 0.8 mile distance and 10 minutes of easy walk to the hike time. Second meeting place: Pilot Truck Stop at I-40 Exit #24 at 8:30AM but call leader beforehand. Topos: Cove Creek Gap, Dellwood, also NatGeo. Map #317

National Park Service Rangers   open the forest road gate leading to the Appalachian Highlands Science  Learning Center at Purchase Knob when they have to accommodate researchers and visiting academic groups . This allows  public  drive to the building and  park.  We were lucky to have this date  which allowed us trim the 12+ mile /2500 ft ascent hike from Cove Creek Gap trailhead to 7 mile/1800 ft ascent.  Ranger Emily Darling greeted fifteen CMC hikers upon arrival at 9:00AM and agreed to talk to us after the hike.

Views around Purchase Knob leading to the historic Ferguson Cabin were spectacular.  We briefly stopped for a snack and 180 degree views at Gooseberry Knob, a property of The Swag Country Inn. After a vigorous 500 ft climb from Double Gap we had lunch at the summit of Hemphill Bald with a 240 degree mountain vista including short range views of Gooseberry Knob, Purchase Knob, Cataloochee Ski Resort, Ghost Town and long range mountains of Mount Pisgah, Cold Mountain and beyond. We took a long break to revisit The Swag after resort guests would complete their outdoor lunch.  Bruce led ten hikers on a steep descent on grassy bald with 180 degree views to Thunderbolt Knob. I retraced the steps on the tree covered trail with four other hikers to rejoin them at Double Gap.    We reached The Swag after the guests finished their lunch and we were greeted by the owner Deener Matthews. She remembered the visit of CMC hikers twice in groups of 16 when they parked at The Swag at 9AM, hiked all day on trails normally not accessible for day-hikers and had supper and after dinner show by a Grammy winning story teller. Several Swag-guests, some probably not having seen a large group of hikers,  were interested in learning about CMC.  Currently, The Swag has special Wednesday lunch buffets for general public by individual reservations.  Since their season closes in November,  this is ideal for two separate half-day hikes in 2012.   Stay tuned for e-News and Let’s Go announcements for signups in 2012.

After we returned to the cars and changed from boots to sandals, we were privileged to an excellent interactive session with Ranger Darling on the porch while Mushroom folks were still inside the building.  She told us  the history of integration of the Science Center and 500+ acres of property around Purchase Knob with the national park in 2000 and the Purchase Knob Webcam which gets lots of web