Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A North Carolina Adventure

In October of 2014 the CSO owners, Steve and Miranda, along with their energetic adventure dog, Scout (a one year old English Springer Spaniel), headed for the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina for some adventure and gear testing. The primary goal of the trip was to climb Mount Mitchell, which is the highest mountain peak east of the Mississippi River.  However, before heading to the summit of Mount Mitchell, they made a brief stop in West Virginia to explore some trails in and around the New River Gorge.  This weekend also happened to be Bridge Day, which is the one day per year that the Gorge bridge is open for base jumping, rappelling and other adrenaline junkie activities. After taking in some sites at the bridge, they took a short day hike on the Grandview Rim Trail which was a good opportunity to stretch the vehicle cramped legs after a long drive.  The Grandview Rim Trail offers some great views of the New River and the valley below.  This trail is highly recommended for anyone that is visiting the area.

(A view of the New River valley from the Grandview Rim Trail)

After leaving the New River Gorge of West Virginia the three travelers headed for Black Mountain, North Carolina.  In Black Mountain, they explored the local establishments and The Dripolator Coffee shop, the Trailhead Restaurant, and the Black Mountain Running Company were among the favorites.  Just beyond town there are many trails that visitors can explore.  They decided to explore the Lookout Mountain Trail.  Again, this is a short 3.8 mile round-trip day hike to the summit of Lookout Mountain, which provides fantastic views.  The trail actually proved to be a little more challenging than was initially expected.  In addition to the step elevation gain, there was one slightly technical section of trail, near the top, where hikers had to scramble up some rocks.  It wasn't anything that the CSO group hadn't tackled before, but a few other hikers on the trail were a little less experienced and had some difficulty with this section of the trail.  The views from the top of Lookout Mountain proved to be well worth the effort to get to the top.

(A view from the summit of Lookout Mountain)

After spending some time in and around the town of Black Mountain, the group headed to the Black Mountain Campground, which would be the basecamp for the hike to the summit of Mount Mitchell.  Mount Michell stands at 6,684 feet, which makes it the highest peak in the Appalachian Mountains and the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.  There are a few different ways to reach the summit and most choose the easiest route, which is to simply drive your car to the summit.  Yes, there is a paved roadway that goes all the way to the summit of this mountain.  But what fun and what kind of challenge would driving be?  Of course the CSO crew took the less traveled and more challenging route to the top, which is hiking the 11.2 mile (round-trip) Mount Mitchell Trail. Aside from the 4,000+ feet of elevation gain in the 5 mile trek, the trail is not real technical.  The challenge isn't a technical one, but it does take persistence and determination.  Scout, the Springer Spaniel, would make this his first official "bagged peak" and it was also his birthday.  The trip to the summit took about 3.5 hours and the trip back down took about 2.5 hours.  It's a nice hike that doesn't require a lot of technical mountaineering or climbing expertise.  It's certainly a much better way to experience Mount Mitchell than driving your car to the top.  A "must do" for any adventurer.
(The Country Squirrel Outfitters trio on the Mount Michell Trail)

(Miranda and Scout a the summit of Mount Mitchell at 6,684 feet)
(A view from the Summit of Mount Mitchell)

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