Hike Reports 12/7/30

Wednesday Hikes



WEDNESDAY NO. W1202-368 June 27
Bradley Creek and Riverside Stream Crossings *8:00 AM
Hike 8, Drive 70, 650 ft. ascent, Rated B-C
Rich Sampson, 704-453-9059, sampson.r@bellsouth.net P400
*Form carpools at Westgate, and meet leader at Food Lion on NC 280 in Mills River at 8:25 AM. There are about 25 wet stream crossings but the terrain is almost level and you will enjoy the beauty of the streams and the diverse flora. Plan to hike in shoes/boots you don't mind getting soaked and use two hiking poles. Car shuttle. Topo: Pisgah Forest, Dunsmore, Nat'lGeo#780.

    Ten hikers participated with most meeting at Westgate at 8:00 and others at the Food Lion on Route 280. This is an ideal second meeting place, because it is close to the intersection with Mills River Road which leads in to Yellow Gap Road where the hike ends. From the Food Lion we shuttled cars into Yellow Gap Road and then returned to the Food Lion to pick up the others and take everyone to Turkey Pen where the hike began. The drive between Turkey Pen and Mills River Road is seven miles one way. From Mills River Road and Route 280 to the trail end on Yellow Gap Road is 10 miles, with half being dirt road. It took 40 minutes to shuttle from the Food Lion to the trail end and back to the Food Lion. We began the hike shortly after 10:00 and ended around 3:30 and kept a fairly steady pace. The weather was warm and the stream was refreshingly cool, but not cold, making for an enjoyable and fun hike. No one had trouble with the stream crossings, although we required that all hikers have two hiking poles. The hike description should include this as a requirement for future hikes, due to naturally slippery footing in the creek. The hike passes through three grassy meadows where some of the hikers picked up ticks, but we did not see yellow jackets (too early in the season) which have been an issue when the hike was scheduled for the late summer. At one time this hike started at Yellow Gap Road and proceeded South to Turkey Pen, and some time later was changed to the opposite direction. We definitely recommend keeping this current start at Turkey Pen. The trail is easier to follow at several unmarked intersections, and the stream crossings are easier to identify. Also, the trail is almost impossible to see from Yellow Gap Road were the hike to start there.

WEDNESDAY NO. W1203-142    July 4
Jerry Miller Trail to AT to Fork Ridge Trail    *8:30 AM
Hike 10.5, Drive 92, 3300 ft. ascent, Rated A-AA+
 Tish Desjardins, cell: 828-380-1452, desraylet@aol.com
*Form carpools at Westgate, and meet leader at US 25/NC 208 intersection at 9:15 AM. We’ll hike up the Jerry Miller Trail to Bearwallow Gap and right on the AT to Andrew Johnson Mtn. Right on the Fork Ridge Trail down to FS 111 and a short walk to the cars.  Topo: Greystone; also NatGeo map #782

    At 9:25 A.M. we started the 7.5 miles of this 4th. of July hike with an easy, fun and carefree day along the rushing waters of the Laurel River -- a much better alternative to the original planned hike that would have had us climb 3000 miserable feet in the sweltering sun.  
    Our lunch spot was at the confluence of the Laurel and French Broad Rivers.  After lunch, we were invigorated with a swim in the French Broad with the peaceful mountains watching over us.  The rhododendrons were in bloom along with the mimosa trees.
    Upon our 2:00 return to the cars, we decided to go to Hot Springs for ice cream and laughter.  8-)
    Tish Desjardins

WEDNESDAY NO. W1203-i    July 11
Picnic Lunch and Hikes at The Swag     8:30 AM
Hike 3 to 6 depending on hike, Drive 90, Rated C-C to B-B
 Ashok Kudva, 828-698-7119, cell: 828-674-1374, ashok.kudva@att.net
The Swag Country Inn, a resort at the boundary of GSMNP on the Cataloochee Divide Trail, offers a Wednesday special picnic-style cookout lunch, outdoors at Gooseberry Knob with spectacular views. Under rainy conditions, umbrellas on picnic tables or indoor dining will be used for lunch. For lunch details, look up http://www.theswag.com/specialfood.htm. Contact Ashok Kudva (ashok.kudva@att.net, 828-698-7119) for sign-up and additional information. Advance reservations and credit card authorization for $40 each to The Swag are required for entry through their gated private road. Since reservations are limited, contact the leader soon to give them an advance head count.

   Nineteen hikers drove to The Swag and completed a 4.2 mile hike with 1000 ft ascent and descent in a steady drizzle. In the morning we climbed the Hemphill Bald where the normal panoramic mountain vista was covered with a curtain of fog and mist.  But, we enjoyed a beautiful “people panorama” (photo) and shared dark chocolates.  Trout Lily and a few other wild flowers with rain drops were photographers’ dreams. On our return, Bruce led most hikers with a bush-whack down Thunderbolt Knob.

    One non-hiker joined us for lunch at The Swag. They switched our lunch spot into their formal dining room from the outdoor picnic area at the scenic Gooseberry Knob. The rainy day was a reunion for several people who have not met for a long time. Machu Pichu hikers’ reunion, and, reunion of several hikers who were lost before meeting the group at the K Mart parking lot to start  the 2005  key-swap 14 mile Cataloochee Divide hike made us forget the weather. 

    After lunch we “rebooted” for a 1.5 mile Nature trail hike within the Swag property.  Highlight was the “Swinging Bridge” and a pause at the Gooseberry Knob.  

    Instead of hiking in the rain on the Cataloochee Divide Trail, we drove to The Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center at Purchase Knob. Paul Super, Research Coordinator, talked to us (photo) about the history of donation of the summer home and 500 acres of land to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2000 and current research programs at the Center. He mentioned opportunity for volunteers to participate in supporting researchers to collect data for environmental, animal and vegetation research in the park.  For details see the featured article about The Center in this issue of e-News.  

    We did not spend much time outdoors without moving our feet. Time spent inside the Science Center and in The Swag dining room made it a pleasant day. Some of the hikers said this was the best rainy day!  A slide show of Google Picasa linked photos may support that claim. Attached photos and link by Ashok.




WEDNESDAY NO. W1203-460    July 18
Pilot Mountain to Courthouse Falls    *8:30 AM
Hike 9.1, Drive 60, 1300 ft ascent, Rated A-B
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 9:05 AM. This in-and-out hike begins with a short bushwhack below Pilot Mountain and follows FS 140A through interesting forest to FS 140 and on to Courthouse Falls.  We will have lunch at beautiful Courthouse Falls and return the same way. There is one easy stream crossing which can be wet if there has been a lot of rain close to the hike date.  Topo: Shining Rock, Sams Knob; also NatGeo Map #780

All Day Weekend Hikes


SUNDAY NO. A1202-555 June 24
MST: NC 80 to Woods Mtn. 8:30 AM
Hike 10, Drive 90, 1400 ft. ascent, Rated A-B
Tom Sanders, 828-252-6327, tsanders.avl@gmail.com
Hike on a little-traveled section of the eastbound MST north of NC 80 to Woods Mtn., with seldom seen views of the Blacks and Mt. Mitchell. Second meeting place: parking lot adjacent to Ingles at Exit 64 of I-40 at 8:50 AM Topos: Celo, Little Switzerland

SUNDAY NO. A1203-370    July 1
South Mills River    *8:00 AM
Hike 12.5, Drive 75, 1100 or 750 ft. ascent, Rated AA-B or AA-C
 Sawako Jager, 828-687-2547, cell: 828-674-4067 and Bruce Bente, 828-692-0116, cell: 828-699-6296, bbente@bellsouth.net
 P400  *Form carpools at Westgate, and meet leaders at Pisgah Ranger Station at 8:35 AM. This is another of the P400 hikes that is scheduled during a summer month because of its nine stream crossings. Plan to wear water shoes for the section between Cantrell Creek and Wolfe Ford. Two hiking poles are recommended for the stream crossings. The trail follows the old logging railroad grade, so look for old trestles at stream crossings. This hike will be done as a key swap. Topo: Pisgah Forest

    Our upstream half of this hike had five hikers, including a new arrival to NC on his first CMC hike.  After 4-1/2 miles of dry walking in increasingly hot weather, we were happy to encounter the first of 12 water crossings and enjoyed the cool water at each one. We met the downstreamers for lunch and successfully exchanged keys.  Near the end of the hike, we stopped for an enjoyable dip in the Otter Hole.  Arguably, the highlight of the day may have been our ice cream stop at Dolly's. A good time was had by all.
-reported by Bruce Bente

    The record high temperature and 30 % chance of thunderstorms did not deter us. The down streamers consisted of two guest avid hikers from Pisgah Hikers, Becky and myself.
We started hiking from Gaging Station at 9:30 and got to see beautiful High Falls first. The South Mills River Trail, an old Carr Lumber Co. railroad bed had lots to see. Our hike route had 12 wet
river crossings,several great swimming holes such as Otter Hole, 4 suspension bridges, Copperas Rock, to the foot of the Cantrell Creek, the site of a former hunting lodge.

Most of the trail was a lovely shaded, river side trail, full of ferns, mosses and numerous early summer wildflowers such as Rosebay Rhododendron, Crimson Bee Balm, Tussel Rue, Loosestrife, Common St. John's Wort, Phlox, Horse Nettle, Spotted Jewel Weed. I decided to let the speedy hikers go ahead and "lead from the rear" and took advantage of learning about ferns from Becky. She showed me New York Fern, Christmas Fern, Cinnamon Fern, Southern Lady Fern, Interrupted Fern, etc...At 11:55 we stopped to have lunch at our 7th River Crossing site and about 10 minutes later the group of Upstreamers arrived. It was a great moment to see other group and have our lunch together. I felt I was so fortunate being a member of this terrific Carolina Mountain Club! A little rain started and we heard the thunder while we were enjoying the last dipping spot of the day and we finished our hike at Turkey Pen Trailhead at 3:50. Definitely this hike was fun and a great way to beat the heat. We had a blast!
-reported by Sawako Jager

SUNDAY NO. A1203-216    July 1
AT: Sams Gap to Devil Fork Gap    8:15 AM
Martyn Easton, cell: 828-228-0136, meeaston@me.com
Hike 8.5, Drive 90, 1400 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
This section of the AT features nice views into Tennessee from the ridge line, traversing a series of knobs along an unusual section of the TN-NC state line where Tennessee is east of N.C. and the southbound hiker is actually traveling north. Car shuttle. Topo: Sams Gap

    The advertised hike met with no takers except for a small group accompanying the hike leader from Lenoir. This brave and hardy band of four decided on an alternate plan to defy the soaring temperatures rather than cancel altogether. They headed north into Tennessee to the AT trailhead on Rt 321 at the west end of Watauga Lake. Laden down with gallons of water and floppy hats, they did an out and back on the northbound AT to the crossing of Wilbur Dam Rd.  The route was easy-going and comfortable beneath the shade of the trees as the AT followed around the coves of the lake. Some gentle climbing up and down brought us to the Watauga Lake shelter. The stream being the water source for the shelter was all but dried up. Not good for AT back-packers and probably didn't bode well for water up higher on the Iron Mountains ridge at the Vandevelter shelter and beyond. After the shelter, the trail continued gently upwards to emerge on the asphalt service road crossing the top of the Watauga Dam. At 318 feet high and 900 feet long, the dam is an impressive pile of rocks and dirt holding back a lot of water!  On the far side of the dam, the AT continues steeply up the service road and then cuts off to the left back into the woods. It continues to wind up to a rocky knoll before descending sharply to the Wilbur Dam Rd. We stopped for our picnic lunch atop this knoll where the shade of the trees and a nice breeze kept us cool. The return trek was mostly downhill with tantalizing glimpses of the sparkling waters of the lake. As we emerged from the shade onto the road across the dam, the breeze picked up and threatened to blow our hats out across to the armada of pontoon boats milling about while awaiting orders from King Phillip to head for the shores of England! The heat continued to climb on the last few miles, but made all the more refreshing the post-hike swim in the lake! A fairly easy 7 miles, but perfect for the occasion. We decreed that all sections of the AT ought to end at a lake!

Hikers:  Martyn Easton, Don Gardlione, Chase "Peppe" Gardlione, Chris Washburn

SUNDAY NO. A1203-115    July 8
Pigeon Gap – Bridges Camp Gap –E. Fork of Pigeon River    8:30 AM
Hike 8.8, Drive 60, 1500 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
Paul Benson, 828-251-1909, pdbenson@charter.net
 P400  *Wilderness hike, limited to ten hikers—call leader for reservation. We will follow the MST south from Pigeon Gap to Bridges Camp, then hike down to the East Fork of the Pigeon River for lunch and a leisurely swim at the E. Fork of the Pigeon River. After lunch it’s downhill all the way to the Big East parking area. Car shuttle. Second meeting place: Big East Fork small parking area on US 276 at 9:15 AM.  Topo: Shining Rock; also NatGeo map #780

    I was hoping for a hot day when I planned this hike, and I wasn't disappointed.  Our group of ten started out on a very warm sunny morning with a vigirous climb up the MST to Green Knob.  Ridgeline breezes and occassional views made the hike fairly pleasant, although quite sweaty.  After an up and down route on the MST we intersected the Bridges Camp Gap Trail and mercifully descended under increasingly cloudy skies to the East Fork of the Pigeon River where we ate a quick lunch while being cooled by a light rain and the cool river.  I am amazed by how this beautiful section of the river has such a remote feel given the circus-like nature of Skinny Dip Falls, just upstream and the always busy trails downstream near 276.  Deciding to delay a swim until the rain stopped we proceeded downstream enjoying the frequent views of the river.  Fortunately, the rumbles of thunder died away, the rain stopped and weak sunshine was beginning to return by the time we reached the big pool at the confluence of Shining Creek, where most of us enjoyed a very refreshing swim.  By the way, this swim was very theraputic to three of the group that had painful encounters with bees along the way.  Sunshine and the warm temps returned in full force as we proceed downstream to the end of the trail at 276, were we enjoyed watermelon and refreshing beverages.


WEEKEND NO. A1203-i    July 13-15
Mountain Treasures Camporee #2    
Ted Snyder, 864-638-3686, tedsnyderjr@bellsouth.net and Jim Reel, 828-738-0751, cell: 828-443-2532, jimr57@yahoo.com
The second of a series of car camping weekends will feature eight hikes into a cluster of nearby Mountain Treasures. The camporee will be in a reserved site at the Appletree Group Campground on the upper Nantahala River. Our campground permit has a 50-person limit. There will be a group barbeque supper Saturday night. Reservations are required for both. For details, go to the CMC website and look under “hiking” for “hiking – camporees”.  The website gives driving directions, hike descriptions and plans for the barbecue. Any questions should be put to Ted or Jim.

     Our second Mountain Treasures Camporee was held July 13-15 at the Appletree Group Campground on the upper Nantahala River. The weather prediction was awful: thunderstorms all the time. It was not quite that bad. By 3:00 p.m. Friday rain had stopped and the sky partly cleared. The remainder of the afternoon was ideal. Rained starting about dark. The drawback here was that the planned campfire was rained out. Rained at night.
    Saturday dawned nearly clear. Lots of sunshine. Fielded four hikes, to Tusquitee Bald, London Bald, Cheoah Bald and Wesser Bald. Only one of those had rain, and that only a shower. These were all good and successful walks. Many flowers were identified, including some rare orchids. Lots of Chestnut sprouts were observed. After supper we had a big campfire, as we now had a two day supply of wood. The last fire spectators were said to have retired about 1:15 a.m.  Had a big bed of coals Sunday morning and firewood left over.
    Both Saturday morning and Sunday morning Will DeGrauw led a large part of those attending in yoga exercises. This was really a high spot of each morning. We spent about half an hour each time. The exercise helped our muscles, and the meditation helped our mental outlook. Thanks, Will. That was an unexpected gem.
    Sunday we fielded three hikes: Piercy Creek Canyon, Tellico Bald and Wayah Bald. A fourth hike had been planned on the Bartram Trail, but no one signed up for it. The weather Sunday included a little more rain than we would have liked.
    As usual, we had a big Bar-B-Que on Saturday night. The meat came from Willy's in Franklin, as did the slaw.  We had a big basket of fresh, ripe tomatoes, and a tub of fresh corn, which we boiled for corn-on-the-cob. Doreen Blue organized the cooking and serving, and Darrell Stamey cooked the corn. A number of others helped by slicing and stirring. Jacob Cox's wife sent a huge supply of chocolate cup cakes that were super delicious. Thanks go to all of the helpers.
    Ernie Walker, the campground host was especially generous and helpful. He checked on us a number of times, and helped us find extra parking nearer than the overflow lot.
   We had 32 people in attendance for the camporee. Twenty-eight people ate Bar-B-Que.
Ted Snyder

Saturday No. A1203-542                  Jul. 14
Wesser Bald                9:00 AM

Mountain Treasures Hike # (Strenuous)
Hike 10.4, Drive 0, 2350 ft. ascent, Rated A-AA
Ted Snyder , 864-638-3686, tedsnyderjr@bellsouth.net
LTC The excellent route starts at the end of the Wesser Creek road and climbs to the ridge on the old location of the Appalachian Trail. Beautiful forest environment, along a mountain stream. On reaching the ridge, join the A.T. and continue south to the Wesser Bald Tower. This is the old fire tower, the top half of which has been removed, and a large deck added. Here are 360 degree views. Return on the new location of the A.T. to N.O.C. Shuttle. Topo: Wesser, Nat. Geo. Map

    A total of three persons took this hike. It was on the long side at 10.5 miles. The route was up Wesser Creek, on the dug footbed formerly of the Appalachian Trail. The trail was in good condition. It led up the narrow defile of the valley on multiple switchbacks, with a gentle but steady gradient. It took us about two hours to reach the end of this trail at its junction with the Appalachian Trail, opposite an AT shelter.

    We turned south on the Appalachian Trail, and made the short but steady climb to Wesser Bald, our destination. The top half of the former fire tower on Wesser Bald has been removed, and a deck built about 30 feet up. This deck affords a 360 degree view of the massed mountains around it. The views here are some of the best in the region. The altitude gain to the tower was about 2350 feet.

    Shifting clouds and fog, intermittent sunshine, and a sprinkle of rain allowed us interrupted views, but when they were open, they were magnificent. We could see probably 20-30 miles in every direction but due east.  Lunch was taken as we enjoyed the views.

    Our exit from the tower was on the present alignment of the Appalachian Trail, down to the Nantahala Outdoor Center. This downhill walk was steep with several precipitous stretches. It took twice as much time as the morning's climb uphill.
    The afternoon trail was lined with American Chestnut, now mostly sprouts, but with some stems up to 4" d.b.h. There were a number of big trees along the ridge, mainly Chestnut Oak, with the largest estimated to be 60" d.b.h.
    This good hike required a short shuttle, of about four miles.  The only rain encountered was the sprinkle while we were on the tower. We had sunshine most of the time.
    Ted Snyder.
Sunday No. A1203-770                  Jul. 15
Wayah Bald                9:00 AM
Mountain Treasures Hike # (Strenuous)
Hike 8.6, Drive 0, 1100 ft. ascent, Rated B-B
Ted Snyder , 864-638-3686, tedsnyderjr@bellsouth.net
LTC.This is an in-and-out hike, starting at Burningtown Gap and running south on the Appalachian Trail to top out on Wayah Bald (5342). On the rock tower there are lots of plaques identifying peaks on the skyline. Topo: Wayah Bald; Nat. Geo. Map #
     Five hikers made this trip on Sunday, 15 July 2012. The weather had been problematic all weekend. We left our cars at Burningtown Gap with a high overcast above. The hike was an in-and-out along the Appalachian Trail.

    The first part of the route was uphill on relatively new dug trail, then on old roads to the crest of a ridge, where there were fair views from small rock outcrops. Lots of white Monarda here.The trail then contoured along the ridge for a while before descending on long switch backs to Licklog Gap.  Shortly after leaving the gap, we were subjected to heavy rain, which lasted about an hour.

    The rain ended just as we reached the top of Wayah Bald, and climbed the tower. The sun came out as we lunched here. We had intermittent views of the mountains piled up around us. A feature of the tower is a series of plaques mounted on the railings that identify the peaks visible in the distance. The local residents speak of this bald as "Warrior Bald."  It is claimed that this is the name used by the Indians.

After lunch we retraced our route back to Burningtown Gap. As we neared the halfway point of the return, heavy rain descended on us, lasting about an hour. The trail became a creek, and behind every water bar was a small lake.

   We regained our vehicles in sunshine. Fortunately no thunder and lightning accompanied the rain.
    Ted Snyder.

Half Day Hikes

HALF-DAY NO. H1202-529 June 24
Fletcher Fields & Spencer Branch Short Version *1:00 PM
Hike 5, Drive 50, 400 ft. ascent, Rated C-C
Nonmembers, call leader: Greg Goodman, 828-684-9703, greggoodman@bellsouth.net *Form carpools at Westgate, and meet leader at North Mills Recreation Area at 1:30 PM. Follow Fletcher Field Trail to East Fork, in and out on Spencer Branch to Hendersonville Reservoir and back to cars. Topo: Dunsmore Mtn.; also NatGeo map #780

HALF-DAY NO. H1203-222    July 1
Montreat Loop #3    12:30 PM
Hike 5, Drive 40, 1300 ft. ascent, Rated C-B
Gail Lamb, 828-338-0443, glamb46@gmail.com
This moderate in-and-out hike takes Old Graybeard Trail to Pot Cove Gap, then follows a section of Old Trestle Road that was cleared just a couple of years ago. We will snack at Graybeard Falls and return by the same route. Second meeting place: Ingles parking lot off Exit 64 of I-40 at 12:50 PM.  Topo: Montreat
  On a record breaking heat day with high humidity, 9 hikers made the climb up Greybeard Trail in Montreat. At the trestle road we took the first long switchback to Greybeard Falls and lunched. THe steep, rocky portion of the trail down from the falls was scheduled for closure last week, but we used it for return to toll road, then trestle road.  From there e retraced our path back down Greybeard to cars.We were probably last club hike to officially use this portion and it was safe to use. The heat took its toll on our energy and water stops made this a slow 4 1/2 mile hike!

HALF-DAY NO. H1203-043    July 8
Frying Pan Tower    *12:00 PM
Hike 4, Drive 40, 400 ft. ascent, Rated C-C
Bobbi Powers, 828-667-5419, bobbipowers@live.com
LTC, P400  *First meeting place: Ingles parking lot on NC 191. This is an easy in-and-out hike through a spectacular display of wildflowers to good views from the tower. Second meeting place: Pisgah Inn parking lot near convenience store at 12:30 PM.  Topo: Cruso; also NatGeo map #780 and MST Profiles book, pg. 40.

    People had a choice on July 8 - whether to swelter in 93-degree heat in Asheville or drive up to Pisgah Inn and hike to Frying Pan Tower where the weather varied from 72-degree sunshine to overcast to light rain.  Fifteen hikers made the smart choice.  We all agreed the air was much fresher at 5000', the rain drops and clouds were appreciated, and we enjoyed an excellent, sociable hike.  I counted 31 varieties of blooming flowers/shrubs, including lots of fly poison and hydrangea, but also some early turk's cap lilies, one last alpine azalea, and, as one hiker put it, "Lots of yellow, white, and purple flowers."  Most of us decided not to climb the tower today because the weather was quite iffy, and we did not want to become targets for any rogue lightning bolts.
HALF-DAY NO. H1203-587    July 15
Catawba Falls    *1:00 PM
Hike 3, Drive 40, 800 ft. ascent, Rated C-C
Lee Silver, 828-668-7147, leehsilver@aol.com
WC100  *Form carpools at Westgate, and meet leader at McDonalds off Exit 73 of I-40 at 1:30 PM. Hike to picturesque Catawba Falls and back. Possible optional hike extension to upper falls depending on trail improvements.  Topo: Montreat

    Despite early storms an intrepid group of 10 had a very pleasant hike to the Lower Falls at Catawba Falls.
The new parking lot and bathrooms at the trailhead are a welcome addition. We explored the remains of the hydro electric system built in the 1920's on the way up.
       Conditions were sloppy from earlier rains so care was taken on the trail and especially on stream crossings. We shared the trail with many family groups and their dogs.       The recent rain made for spectacular waterfalls, both at the dam and at the Falls themselves. We made no attempt to climb to the Upper Falls. There are rumors that a safer route will be created at some point.
       After hanging out at the falls and enjoying the views with about 20 other people we returned to the cars by the same route..
Lee Silver