Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Peak bagging in NC

Mountains 08/23 – 08/25

I Headed down to North Carolina for the U.S. Trail 10km championships and, as is usually the case, planned out some side trips along the way.

On Thursday Todd Callaghan joined me as we headed down to Charlotte and then drove 2+ hours to Mt Mitchell (the highest point in NC).  I’d been to Mitchell before but Todd hadn’t, no problem for me I mapped out some other high points nearby and a return trip to a HP is fine by me!  The rental car agency gave us a 2012 white Mustang; not exactly an off-road vehicle but it had some punch on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Todd found us a station playing “classic rock” and we grooved to a lot of eighties tunes over the weekend.

Anyway, we arrived at Mt Mitchell around noon and walked the quarter mile of paved 80’ climb to the summit.  The views were okay, but there was a lot of haze and there were threatening clouds in the distance (we’d drive up through a heavy downpour).  We quickly visited the highest point east of the Mississippi and checked out the gift shop and museum before heading to our first run of the day.

Some of the lists on Peakbagger.com that contain Mount Mitchell: 6,684 (NC state High point)
     Southeast USA Peaks Top 50 by Prominence (Rank #1)
     Southern Appalachian 6000-foot Peaks (Rank #1)
     North Carolina 5000-foot Peaks (Rank #1)
     Eastern U.S. County High Points over 4500 feet (Rank #1)
     Southeast USA Peaks with 2000 feet of Prominence (Rank #1)
     Fifty Highest Eastern CoHPs (Rank #1)
     High Points of Counties Crossed by the Appalachian Trail (Rank #1)
     Carolina Lookout Tower Challenge (Rank #1)
     South Beyond 6000 (Rank #1)
     North Carolina County High Points (Rank #1)
     Eastern USA Peaks with 2500 feet of Prominence (Rank #2)
     U.S. State Park High Points (Rank #2)
     USA Lower 48 Peaks with 100 miles of Isolation (Rank #2)
     Most Isolated Peaks of the U.S. States (Rank #4)
     Most Prominent Peaks of the U.S. States (Rank #12)
     USA Lower 48 Range3 High Points (Rank #15)
     United States State High Points (plus DC) (Rank #16)
     U.S. State High Points (Rank #16)

It was a short drive from Mitchell to the parking area near “The Pinnacle’.  We ran about a quarter-mile on the Blue Ridge Parkway then headed off road up a nice herd path that took us to the summit. Todd took the lead on the climb and regretted his move as he used his face to clear the path of a dozen spider webs.  The round trip from 5,160’ to the 5,665’ summit took us 28:37.  We only spent a few minutes on the rocky peak, checking out views of Mt Mitchell.

Some of the lists that contain The Pinnacle: 5,665 (McDowell county high Point)
     North Carolina County High Points (Rank #11)
     Fifty Highest Eastern CoHPs (Rank #13)
     Eastern U.S. County High Points over 4500 feet (Rank #17)
     Southern USA CoHPs (Rank #22)
     North Carolina 5000-foot Peaks (Rank 25)

We jumped back in the Mustang and a few minutes later we’d parked at the Green Knob overlook.  We had a short run up to the lookout tower on the top of the 5,080’ peak.  The trail was very narrow and twisted back and forth across the mountain side from 4,740’ on the parkway to the tree covered top.  The tower was nice, appeared to have been recently remodeled.  It had a nice catwalk around the cab but access was barred.  We only spent a moment on top taking pictures before retreating.  The round trip run took 15:34 (8:03 up & 7:31 down).

Some of the lists that contain Green Knob: 5,080’
     Carolina Lookout Tower Challenge (Rank #8)
     North Carolina 5000-foot Peaks (Rank #158)

We had a longish drive after Green Knob, mixing it up with some driving on the Parkway then heading north to the border of Tennessee.  We parked at nearly the top of Roan Mountain and with 10’ of climb we were on the top of “Cloudland Mountain”.  It isn’t really recognized as a separate peak due to it not being much higher than the peaks around it.  There were ruins from an old Hotel on the top.  We just ran through as our goal was Roan High Knob.  We dropped a bit running along a nice easy section of the Appalachian trail, then had a little climb of a little over 100’ to the highest hut on the AT.  It was COVERED in flies; Todd mentioned “Amityville Horror” and it seemed appropriate.  We didn’t stay near the hut and zipped on up through the open woods to the 6,285’ summit rocks.  There wasn’t a view but the woods were interesting, we got a couple of pictures and headed back to the parking lot.  Our round trip took just under 20 minutes (19:33).


Some of the lists that contain Cloudland Mountain: 6,200’
     Southern Appalachian 6000-foot Peaks (Unranked)
     North Carolina 5000-foot Peaks (Unranked)
     Tennessee 4500-foot Peaks (Unranked)

Some of the lists that contain Roan High Knob: 6,285’
     Southeast USA Peaks Top 50 by Prominence (Rank #3)
     Southeast USA Peaks with 2000 feet of Prominence (Rank #3)
     Appalachian Mountain Range4 High Points (Rank #4)
     Tennessee 4500-foot Peaks (Rank #6)
     Eastern USA Peaks with 2500 feet of Prominence (Rank #7)
     High Points of Counties Crossed by the Appalachian Trail (Rank #7)
     Fifty Highest Eastern CoHPs (Rank #8)
     Eastern U.S. County High Points over 4500 feet (Rank #9)
     North Carolina 5000-foot Peaks (Rank #13)
     Southern Appalachian 6000-foot Peaks (Rank #14)
     U.S. National Forest High Points (Rank #99)

From Roan Mountain we descended to Carvers Gap (5,512’) and headed out for the longest run of the day.  It was sunny but we were nearly surrounded by rain showers.  Our goal was Grassy Ridge Bald which was the high point on the ridge and the entire run would be on a grassy bald (a wide open area with spectacular views).  We kept a steady pace on this run and maybe upped the tempo a bit after we heard some grumbles of thunder and saw a lightning strike in the distance.  The view was fantastic and the footy was mostly great.  We crossed over Round Bald (5,826’) and Jane Bald (5,807’) on the way to Grassy Ridge Bald (6,160’).  The two hundred foot drop/climb between Round Bald and Jane Bald seemed tougher on the way back.  We completed the round trip in 56:25 (29:41/26:44) and got back to the car before any real rain fell.  That concluded our peak bagging for day one and we headed to Linville Falls for some pizza and sleep.

Some of the lists that contain Round Bald: 5,826’
     Tennessee 4500-foot Peaks (Rank #15)
     North Carolina 5000-foot Peaks (Rank #52

Some of the lists that contain Jane Bald: 5,807’
     North Carolina 5000-foot Peaks (Unranked)
     Tennessee 4500-foot Peaks (Unranked

Some of the lists that contain Grassy Ridge Bald: 6,189’
     North Carolina County High Points (Rank #7)
     Fifty Highest Eastern CoHPs (Rank #9)
     High Points of Counties Crossed by the Appalachian Trail (Rank #9)
     Eastern U.S. County High Points over 4500 feet (Rank #11)
     Southern USA CoHPs (Rank #16)
     North Carolina 5000-foot Peaks (Rank #21)
     Southern Appalachian 6000-foot Peaks (Rank #22)
     South Beyond 6000 (Rank #26)

I got up early on Friday morning and drove a couple of miles to Long Arm Mountain.  I arrived at the top a few minutes before sunrise.  The “mountain” is located in a small neighborhood with a house on either side of the high ground.  I quickly trotted up a dirt driveway into an open field that had a stone bench with a nice view of where the sun would soon rise.  The highest point (and the summit benchmark) was only a few feet into the woods.  I took a couple of pictures and quickly retreated making sure not to disturb anyone sleeping in the nearby homes.

Lists that contain Long Arm Mountain: 5,180’
     North Carolina County High Points (Rank #19)
     Fifty Highest Eastern CoHPs (Rank #49)
     Southern USA CoHPs (Rank #58)

After a quick snack at the hotel Todd and I headed over to the Linville Gorge to check out the falls therein.  We ran for about 20 minutes checking out a couple of photo ops and trying to not break too many laws prior to most people waking up.

From the Gorge we headed to Grandmother Mountain (4,680’) which we approached via a road on the north east side.  I think it would be quicker to drive up from the south west side.  There is a major road junction that isn’t shown on the topo but is on the Googlemaps (Roseboro road), I can’t vouch for how rough the road gets once you turn off of Roseboro but it does go to the top.  Anyway, we drove to the top via Leason Carroll Gragg Road and parked behind the water tower and hike the quarter mile to the summit.  The trail is tucked right behind the tower and seems to be well maintained (although narrow).  The top had some rocky outcrops from which we got great views of Grandfather Mountain.  All in all it was only a 40’ climb and took all of 10 minutes round trip.

We finished the day with a visit to Laurel Springs where we previewed the Continental Divide trail race which we’d be racing in the next day.  I added a couple of miles onto the end to get 84 minutes of easy running in.

I hadn’t plotted out any major climbs for after the Trail 10km championships, figuring I’d be pretty beat up from racing.  Todd and I did some online research and found that Stone Mountain wasn’t too far from the race site and it had some interesting trails along with a few streams for post-race soaking.

After the awards ceremony we drove from Laurel Springs to Stone Mountain.  The maps were less than ideal, Todd called them “cartoon maps”.  They had shadow relief but no topo information and it was hard to tell if the Stone Mountain Loop trail went around the Mountain (2,305’) or actually up and over the summit.  After checking out the trailhead we decided that the 4.5 mile (or so) loop would be fun, and almost certainly would take us over the summit.

We took the shortest route to the summit (clockwise on the loop trail).  The trail was great!  It was well maintained, smooth, and had a lot of stairs to climb.  We took it very easy, both of us had raced hard and this was just for “fun”.  We completed the 785’ of climb in 16:47, and took a short break on the top to check out the views.  The top reminded me a lot of Mt Monadnock with large expanses of smooth rock.  I would not want to venture out on that in wet weather.

The downhill running was a welcome relief and we wound around the northern end of the mountain.  There were some stairs to run down but not many and we took a couple of side trails to check out the waterfalls, a swimming hole, and a nice view of the mountain from a big field.  We chugged along and were back at the car in 37:00 for a round-trip of 53:47.

We had a nice long post-race soak in the East Roaring Brook River before making the 2 hour drive to Charlotte and closing the book on an excellent weekend.

Totals for the weekend:
Drive = 522 miles
Miles run = 40
Mountains climbed = 11
Climb/descent = 4,526’
State high points = 1
County high points = 5
6000’ peaks = 4
5000’ peaks = 5
4000’ peaks = 1
Towers = 2
National championship medals = 2 (Gold in the 45-49 & 9th Overall)

1 comment:

udaysagar bizconn said...

This is excellent blog.A vimal Industrial system is an eminent company in the supply of Automation solutions for Assembly automation. With strong Engineering strength Vimal Industrial Solutions is a solution provider through basic concepts, designs, manufacturing, implementing and supporting Automated systems.Double end drive