Friday, October 07, 2011

Mount Mitchell

After easy summers at home, I fear the danger of rotting away. Our favorite time to go camping is fall. Two years ago we came upon this campground - Black Mountain Campground near Busick, NC - located by a stream, with clean single-stalled, heat-lamped hot showers, and it's the starting point of a 5.2-mile trail, with 3684 feet of vertical gain up to the top of Mount Mitchell. At 6684 feet above sea level, Mt Mitchell is the highest peak east of Mississippi. In the Andes such meager height can only be found in some crevice at the bottom of a canyon. But Mt Mitchell will have to do for now.

We watched the weather for a couple weeks and set out for the Black Mountain campground (3000') on a crisp Monday. To better gauge the degree of rot, the plan was for ascents on consecutive days.

Once we set up camp, we gathered enough firewood for the next three days. Two years ago we took the expedition too lightly. We wanted to be better prepared.

Well, we did it, be it at my tortoise pace. The first day may have been slightly faster than two years ago. The second day was slightly slower. All were well within 10% of each other. The ascent took ~4.25 hours and descent ~3.25 hours. While we fared better than two years ago, we suspect our fitness has declined from our South American peak. Still, we found the expedition so satisfying that we decided to make "consecutive ascents" of Mt Mitchell our biannual fitness test.

Sun-Ling keeps herself warm on our first evening at Black Mountain Campground.
Black Mountain Campground - NC

Taking on fuel on the way up. ;-)
Mount Mitchell - NC

A gentle, covered uphill section of the trail which is part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
Ascending Mount Mitchell - NC

Some snow and ice on a north slope near the summit.
Mount Mitchell - NC

The two of us at the top on the first day.
Summit - Mount Mitchell - NC

Looking back to Black Mountain Campground (near the golf course in the near middle) and to Linville Gorge (see the two bumps middle-left-back).
View from top of Mount Mitchell - NC

Lots of wild flowers along the trail. Also saw one deer, a ruffed grouse, and many, many chipmunks.
Flora - Mount Mitchell - NC

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