Friday, May 27, 2022

Trail Maintenance, Garenflo Gap to Bluff Mountain, Appalachian Trail

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
5/27/2022 8 miles 5 hours 14 minutes 1,968' 2.0 427.7

Parking: 
  • Garenflo Gap
Maps:
  • n/a
Directions:
  • n/a
Glen and I maintain this section of the Appalachian Trail. We've been out a few times earlier this year to do winter clean up. But we haven't been out for a couple of months, as we were waiting to go out when a trail crew joined us. After a few failed attempts (due to weather), the Friday trail crew was able to join us today to help on our section. We were really happy about this, because there were some tasks we can't do, and some tasks we didn't know how to do. My company lets me take 12 hours off for volunteer work, so I used some of those hours today.

First up, a sawyer came out and worked on tree removal. Carrying a chain saw, gas, etc., up a mountain is hard work. Glen and I decided to do some scouting while everyone else was busy working. We now realize we shouldn't have waited to go out with the group. We should have tried to go out shortly before the group went out. There were new blowdowns completely blocking the trail. We really needed to scout the trail, so we could prioritize what got worked on. We didn't want the sawyer to have to hike all the way to the summit, it the worst trees weren't that high. So the sawyer got rid of the worst blowdowns, but there are still more left for another trip.

Besides getting a sawyer out there, our main focus was getting help with water diversions. Today was a perfect day for that. We've had a lot of rain this week, so it would be easy to see the water issues and identify where the water was coming from. We have at least 5 stream crossings/wet areas on our section, where the water was just coming down the mountain, and then flowing down our trail. Water on a trail is a bad thing. We didn't know how to address the water issues, so we got some help & lessons today. It was a muddy job trying to divert the water. The mud was thick and stuck to our boots. Trying to move soil with a hazel hoe, I felt like I was just splashing water all over myself. But in the end, the water started to drain off the trail. It was hard to work with the muddy soil, so we'll have to see how things look when the trail dries out a bit. I think in the future, we'll be a little more equipped to try to fix the water issues ourselves.

Another thing I'm going to work on next time we go out, is creating a list of landmarks & their mileages from the summit. That will make it easier for us to describe & remember where the issues are.




Sunday, May 22, 2022

Cold Mountain, Shining Rock Wilderness

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
5/18/2022 12.7 miles 7 hours 57 minutes 2,775' 1.9 419.7

Parking: 
  • Camp Daniel Boone, north end of Art Loeb Trail
Maps:
  • 100 Favorite Trails of the Smokies and the Carolina Blue Ridge (for directions)
  • Pisgah Map Co, Shining Rock and Middle Prong Wilderness Areas (for navigation)
Directions:
  • See 100 Favorite Trails map
Carolina Mountain Club Challenges:
  • South Beyond 6,000 - Cold Mountain
  • 100 Favorite Trails - #47 Cold Mountain
  • Pisgah 400 Challenge - #141 Cold Mountain Trail
  • Pisgah 400 Challenge - #146 Art Loeb Trail from Daniel Boone to Cold Mountain Trail

We joined the Carolina Mountain Club for a hike up to Cold Mountain via the Art Loeb trail. This was a challenging but nice hike. The elevation gain was doable for my fitness level. But the footing was challenging with lots of roots and rocks. Going downhill was also challenging - my knees were a bit achy by the end. There is a large landslide from tropical storm Fred that goes across the trail. We were able to cross it slightly below where the original trail would have been. It was doable, but on the way back I had to partially go down an embankment on my rear end. 

We encountered several types of wildflowers. Pink azaleas were blooming. We saw several jack-in-the-pulpits. Our group took a break at Deep Gap, where the Cold Mountain trail leaves the Art Loeb Trail. We continued up more steeply to a rock outcrop, a little below the summit, and had our lunch there. We had a great view and could see the Art Loeb following a ridge below us. We took a short walk to the summit, which had an even better view. This is a wilderness area, so the trails aren't blazed. There was a sign at Deep Gap however.


Trillium


We saw many jack in the pulpits next to the trail


Bear corn



Looking down at the landslide


Crossing the landslide

Azaleas





Canada violets


Woodland Stonecrop



Umbrella Leaf


Bluets


A taste of the overlooks yet to come

No water flowing from the pipe



Canadian Wood Betony

View from the first rock outcropping, looking down at the Art Loeb trail


Cold Mountain summit

Beautiful view of a ridgeline










Saturday, May 21, 2022

Lookout Rock Loop, Montreat

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
5/15/2022 3.2 miles 1 hour 53 minutes 889' 1.7 407

Parking: 
  • Lookout Trailhead, Lookout Road
Maps:
  • 100 Favorite Trails of the Smokies and the Carolina Blue Ridge (for directions)
  • Pisgah Map Co, Black Mountain (for navigation)
Directions:
  • See 100 Favorite Trails map
Carolina Mountain Club Challenges:
  • 100 Favorite Trails hike #81


I wanted to do a short "recovery" hike the day after I finished the Foothills Trail. There was a chance of an afternoon thunderstorm, so we decided to stay very local. This hike isn't really what I'd call a recovery hike though, lol. The hike up Lookout Trail has around 650' elevation feet gain in around 0.6 miles. It's a short trail and a good workout. It starts out with lots of steps, and near the top has some rock scrambling. The Lookout Trail is very busy - other trails were much quieter. This is a beautiful hike with mountain views. Mountain laurel was in bloom, and rhododendrons were just starting to bloom. We've done a similar variation of this hike before. This time we passed by a shelter. I've read there is limited camping in the area. The shelter roof had some holes in it though. Hmm. I wonder how that works. Maybe people pitch tents in the shelter? The shelter has no sides - it's not like an AT shelter.

Lots of steps climbing the Lookout Trail

And a short bit of rock scrambling

Great mountain views - I look out at these mountains from my community garden plot too

Blueberries forming

Glen coming up

A few rhododendrons were just starting to bloom

Gorgeous mountain laurels




View part way up the Lookout Trail


Krumm was glad to get out hiking, after me being away for a week





Wild geraniums

White clintonia




Camping shelter - no sides!

which had a few holes in the roof!







Friday, May 20, 2022

Foothills Trail Day 7 - Cantrell Campsite to Table Rock State Park

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
5/14/2022 9.6 miles 5 hours 907'' 2.1 403.8

Parking: 
  • One car at Oconee State Park
  • One car at Bad Creek Access Area
  • One car at Table Rock State Park
Maps: Directions:
  • Backpack from Cantrell Campsite to Table Rock State Park

Day 7 of our hike. Our final day! All of us can't wait to shower. Today's trail felt very different than previous days. It was rockier. It reminded me of the climb up Shortoff Mountain in Linville Gorge. We even saw a fringe tree, which I believe we've also seen in Linville Gorge too. We had a couple of great views on our way down. As we descended, we saw our first rhododendrons in bloom. On our way we started to see a lot of day hikers as we approached the end of the trail. A few groups congratulated us on our finish. I've taken notes on a few things I want to change for my next backpacking trip. It was a great experience.

For more information on the FoothillsTrail: Foothills Trail Conservancy

A cable crossing over slick rock










Fringe tree






False Indigo









Mountain Laurel



Rhododendrons in bloom