Highpoint: Mt. Mitchell
State: North Carolina
Height: 6684 ft
Highpoint #: 14
Date: 7/3/2002
Trails: Mount Mitchell Trail
Distance: About 11.2 miles roundtrip.
Vertical Gain: 3200 feet
Time Taken: 10 hrs.
Weather: 70s-80s.
Group: JO & BC
Comments: After Georgia we drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Black Forest Campground near Mt. Mitchell. The Blue Ridge Parkway is really incredible. It is a very long windy road that runs the entire "height" of Virginia and North Carolina. There are amazing views and demanding roads for the sport driver. Tourists can drive within a hundred feet of the top of Mt. Mitchell, but we thought it would be pathetic to DRIVE up the highest mountain east of the Mississippi River. After driving down some dirt roads that seemed to be taking us straight to the middle of nowhere, we found a sizable campground. Unfortunately it was full so we drove back to a campsite we passed on the way there. We set up our new tent fairly quickly, and got some well deserved rest. It rained that night, but inside the tent we stayed very dry, although it was very humid and stuffy. We didn't have an alarm so as soon as we were aware that it was light we got up and drove back to the campground. We were out of water so it was a good thing there was a spicket nearby where we filled our bottles. The trailhead was nearby, and we were off on our memorable 11.2 mile hike. The trail set off to the right, cutting hard up the mountain range before us, with many switchbacks through the dense woods. It then cut back across to the left, and traversed to the far left side of the mountain. Here it crossed some power lines that ran all the way up the mountain, which gave us a view of the top. Mt. Mitchell looked very far away from this vantage. The trail then switch-backed across the power line clearing until it reached a little plateau, where the trail cut back to the right to meet up with the ridge and the summit. This trail was the most beautiful we had seen so far, and it replaced Vermont as our favorite hike. We finally reached the top where there were a lot of tourists milling about. The summit tower was open; we went up and took some pictures. We walked over to the tourist parking lot and rested. The nearby snack bar was especially appreciated. JO bought a T-shirt at the gift shop. After a little while of rest, we headed back down. The hike down took longer, since we were more tired. JO’s knees were acting up so he decided to stop catching himself, and just run down the mountain, letting his momentum carry him down. This was surprisingly easy on his knees. BC caught on and we annihilated the last two miles down. Definitely our favorite hike so far.

Left:  The JO-mobile parked on the side of the Blue-Ridge Parkway.  Right:  Right near the beginning of the Black Mountain Campground Trail.

A very exhausted JO and BC on the summit of Mt. Mitchell.  Okay, time to head back!

The sign as you leave the summit letting you know you’re not home yet.

We finished Wednesday by leaving the campground and driving down the Blue Ridge Parkway into South Carolina. Finding a motel near the highpoint was very difficult. The place we had in mind was in the middle of nowhere and the complex there looked like an extended shack. We didn't know how to go about getting a room there, so we were screwed. We drove to the nearest town, and after being turned away from a few places, finally found an $80 room. This experience sucked. The next day it was July 4th, and what better way to celebrate than to do three drive-ups!

 

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