hike report:Six hikers went up Newton Bald Trail in the Smokies and down Mingus Creek Trail. Lots of rhododendrons, two cemeteries. Read the whole story about the Enloe Slave cemetery on my blog: https://www.hikertohiker.net/2019/07/08/up-newton-bald-down-mingus-creek/
scout report:Diane J. and Sallye S. helped me scout this wonderful Smokies hike. We climbed up (and up) Newton Bald Trail but we all agreed that the climb was much **easier** than a 3,000-ft climb would be; the quality of the trail is everything. Rosebay Rhodies were everywhere and hopefully will be still amazing on Sunday. On the way down Mingus Creek Trail, an adult bear waited for us on the trail. We shouted that it was our trail and it scampered down the side of the mountain. I can't promise we'll see a bear. Once we got down to Mingus Creek parking lot, we took a short trail to the African-America cemetery. I'm trying to find out why there are now coins on the stones - a new addition.
scout report:This hike is on a rarely used section of the MST--too bad because it's really beautiful! We start way up high with great views from the overlook, walk for a couple of miles along a ridge line and then go down, down, down. This time of year there should be plenty of later summer wildflowers. When I scouted I saw the end of the flame azalea and the beginning of the turks cap lilies. However, weather may be an issue. The latest forecast shows 80% chance of rain in Waynesville (the closest town) and it's much more likely to rain higher up. Given the exposed nature of the ridge and the many mossy rocks that comprise the trail it would not be a good idea to do this hike in the rain. So check Breaking News Friday evening and Saturday morning to see if the hike has been cancelled.
hike report:Under a threat of rain we shortened this hike to a 5 mile in and out mostly along the ridge line. There were 8 of us enjoying the cool lush forest along this lovely section of the MST. We saw a dozen types of wildflowers and a junco nest with 3 little eggs. This picture was taken at the end of the hike and just minutes before the rain began!
scout report:I have decided to do an out and back hike starting from the South Carolina side of Ellicott Rock Wilderness. It will be a slightly shorter distance and about the same elevation. This will leave more time for swimming and/or viewing Ellicott's Rock. It will also avoid an additional 4 miles car shuttle each way. I scouted the hike yesterday starting from the North Carolina side and hiked to the river. While the trail is very passable for a through hike, I don't think it is worth the extra time to do a shuttle. I have attached a picture of the swimming area and the river nearby. Bring your wet crossing items anyway since you will not be able to resist at least a wade. Myself, I'm going "all in".
hike report:Saturday was a great day and a great group for this hike. The group was really nice and included one CMC member for whom it was her first club hike, two trail maintainers whose section was part of the hike, and an amicable group of other hikers. Gotta admit, I think this one is making my “Barbara’s favorite hikes” list due to the beauty and diversity of this section of the MST. The weather was beautiful and not too hot for this time of the year. In the scout report, I’d noted that we’d learned the location of a bees’ nest and we were all prepared after lunch to deal with having to pass where it was right in the trail. But, the bees had all cleared out, likely the work of a raccoon or something. So, much happier, we finished the hike without any unpleasant incident. Special thanks to Brenda and to Bob Levy for helping use their GPS tracks to guide us through the unmarked turns in the Middle Prong Wilderness. Start time about 9:50; finish at 3:45.
scout report:Saturday, July 20, we scouted this great hike. I’d led it before, nine years ago, but I’d forgotten how varied and beautiful it is. The group was perfect - Brenda, Lee, Kay, Henry, Jan & Kevin and dog Sophie (pets are allowed on scouting hikes with leader’s OK), and of course me. This section of the MST goes through a variety of forest types, including my favorite, the Balsams. While the forest blocked most of the long-range views, the twisted trees, mushrooms, and wildflowers were great. Hooray, there was no poison ivy! There are no steep climbs or descents – the trail is mostly gently rolling. Not many people use this trail, so it was very tranquil. We all worked together to sort out the trail from the false leads as it went through the Middle Prong Wilderness, and I really appreciated Brenda and Henry’s expertise with their GPS programs. Brenda will be on the scheduled hike on July 27, so between us, we should have an easier time staying on the trail. Gary Eblen and friends came by while we were having lunch, and thankfully alerted us to a bees’ nest we would encounter as we continued. Thanks to their details, we saw it ahead of time and got past it without incident. Due to the long drive and shuttle, we didn’t start hiking till about 9:50. We got off the trail at 4:00. Being in a wilderness area, the group size is limited to 10. At this writing, 9 are signed up, but I’ll do a “wait list” if more than 10 want to hike.
scout report:Bruce B. and Carroll K. joined me on this 8.4 mile scout hike on the Balsam Mt Trail. We hiked into the Laurel Gap Shelter at approximately 2 miles , stopping 3 tenths of a mile short of its junction with the Sterling Ridge Trail. A great woodland hike, we noticed along the way, bright green Cone Flowers, large Turks Cap Lilies, Lobilia , and Spiderwort. Also possibly a bear wallow. I'm looking forward to a reprise of this hike on the 20th!
scout report:I scouted this with Bengal and Bailey and my husband shuttled us to the Pisgah Inn for a terrific beer n burger with a view. All Trails app clocked the elevation gain at around 1500' vs the 900' in the description. The trails are in good shape and short pants/sleeves are fine. Some overgrown dog hobble and plenty of rocks in the 3 miles along the river. We barely stopped for breaks and it was almost 5 hours, plus almost an hour each way for travel. Magical Turks Cap and Monarchs!
scout report:Elaine Tennen helped me scout this hike on Sunday, July 14. Novice hikers should be warned this is not the moderate hike it is rated. This is very technically challenging and difficult going down and up steep, often wet rocky trails. All of the elevation gain is over the last 2 - 2.5 miles. That said, the rewards are plentiful with some fun rock scrambles, lovely wooded trails, scenic views and wildflowers. It was very cool and foggy when we started out around 10:10am (be sure to have layers) so we skipped the top. On the actual hike we will opt to go to the tower if the group wants. To get to the Mt. Mitchell/MST trail (190), you start out going down the Nature Trail. There are no signs indicating this so it took us a bit to locate it. The Mt. Mitchell/MST is a 1.3 mile steep, rocky, rooted and often wet trail through the woods with lots of colorful moss and mushrooms. It is difficult and took about an hour to reach the bottom. Poles are very useful for this section. We shed layers and turned left on the Buncombe Horse Range Trail (191). This is relatively flat and mostly exposed all the way to Maple Camp Bald but was very wet and muddy to navigate. Bushes and grasses were overgrown in many places and often felt like a bushwhack. We saw many blooming wildflowers, bees and butterflies. Raspberry and blueberry bushes are plentiful and hopefully will be ripe. We took in the beautiful views from the Bald, then backtracked to begin the climb up the Big Tom Gap Trail (191A). This section is .4 miles but steep, rocky, eroded and hard to climb. We will take our time here and on the first section of the Black Mtn Crest trail (a.k.a. Deep Gap Trail 179) to the top of Big Tom. All trails were well marked. We continued on to Mt Craig, enjoyed the views and then climbed the steps back to Mt Mitchell arriving at the parking lot at 4:20pm.
hike report:Four of us enjoyed our hike to Ferrin Knob this morning. It started out cool but quickly warmed up especially as we started climbing. The woods were pretty and it was quiet. However, as we were walking along up popped a bear climbing a tree just a few yards from us. It looked at us and went back down the tree, the tree being off the edge of the trail down a steep hill. So, we listened and made noise since we couldn’t see where it had gone for the vegetation. We started to walk slowly and when we spotted her, she had told her two little young ones to come down out of another tree and they ambled on down the hill as we continued walking. Mom was not too concerned, she had just climbed the tree to get a look at us! We started the hike at 8:20 and came out at 12:50. Delightful company and a good workout. Donna
scout report:This hike is all in the woods which is good since it’s been so warm, hopefully there will be a breeze. I scouted recently and was reminded that the top section where the Shut-In Ridge trail runs with the MST is steep! The first 2.7 miles are mostly level but after we cross FS479, it’s a climb of 1.3 miles to the lunch spot after which we will turn around and head back downhill. We will start early and finish in the early afternoon so the pace will be moderate to brisk...well, except for the really steep section :o) There are not many places to sit at the old fire tower site, it’s very overgrown this time of year, the actual trailside will work also. Hope to see you there! Donna
scout report:'Sallye and Susan scouted this beautiful hike with me. We started out from Bee Tree Gap at 9:15 and found the first couple of miles of the MST in great condition. It was obvious it had been recently groomed. As we continued, approximately the next three miles were very overgrown and for this reason, wearing long pants is recommended. We saw a great variety of summer wildflowers. In one area the wildflowers were covered with bumble bees. I was stung three times and the others weren't stung at all. This was my first experience of being stung by a bumble bee and it felt a little like pin pricks and lasted about 5 minutes. I found on google that bumble bees are not aggressive and do not leave the stinger in the skin and so do not die after stinging someone. I could have been stung by the same mean little bee. If you are allergic to bee stings this means you must bring your epipen if you come at all. We passed over the rock outcroppings that usually offer the great views without seeing anything as the day was cloudy and we were rained on the first half of the hike. We were back to our cars at Craven Gap at 3:05. This part of the MST offers wonderful variety, interesting boulders and views. The car shuttle from Craven Gap to Bee Tree Gap is 10 miles. '
scout report:Susan H scouted this hike with me on Friday, August 16. We started off from the Mt Mitchell trailhead at 9:15 under sunny skies, a condition I hope will repeat itself on hike day. The MST shared the Old Mt Mitchell Trail partway down the mountain -- a rugged and rocky trail. It was a reprieve when the MST took a right turn to get on the Buncombe Horse Range Trail going towards NC128 -- an easy but long section with blackberries, muddy spots, good shade, and wildflowers. We reached NC128 at about 12:30 and began the rougher and tougher half of the hike. After lunch on the rocks with a great view of the Asheville Watershed area, we climbed on rocky and mossy sections to reach an unnamed summit, then descended to Rainbow Gap, only to have to regain the altitude in what seemed to be a never-ending climb to Blackstock Knob that stands at over 6300 feet. Next, nice walk on a narrow spine with views through trees and a steep set of switchbacks down to the parkway. We got there at 4:30. Note: Lots of butterflies and BEES at work on wood asters, Joe-Pye-weed and goldenrods. Prepare for bee stings. Definitely bring hiking poles to provide extra support for navigating over rocks and wet spots. This is a strenuous hike, not recommended for beginning hikers. Car shuttle required. It will be a long day. Dinner afterwards in the park restaurant an option.