Well, our backpacking trip to the Mackey Mountain roadless area was...interesting and flawed. I'll post more details later. First of all, I forgot my camera. I left it in my office and didn't realize what I'd done until it was too late to drive back for it. I had to meet Andy Kunkle in Gastonia for the drive and returning for my camera would have put us too far off schedule.
Second, the trail we wanted to follow toward Mackey Creek was...well...gone. The Forest Service has apparently decided not to maintain the Mackey Mountain Trail any longer and it just vanished into the forest understory. We tried to muddle our way through it and bushwhack over the top of Mackey Mountain and then down toward Mackey Creek, but we ended up on a different ridge leading toward a different mountain and found ourselves several miles off course.
In the end, we had to just slog back to our vehicle for a pointless round trip backpack (with heavy packs) of about 12 miles over rugged terrain.
So we ended up at a National Forest roadside campsite where we pitched our tents. We spent the night there, got up and fixed breakfast, then headed over to the Blue Ridge Parkway where we decided to hike a series of high peaks between the Parkway and the community of Montreat. We hit The Pinnacle, Rocky Knob, Graybeard, and a sub-peak of Graybeard. Then a long hike back to Andy's SUV via the Mount Mitchell Toll Road (an old railroad bed that's now mainly a hiking/biking trail).
One nice thing was that we saw no other hikers on any of these trails. It's nice to know that there are places where you can escape from the crowds.
I'll put up some photos of the trip when Andy and Bob Johnson get the time to email the images they took. Bob Johnson was nice enough to loan me his digital camera for part of the hikes so that I could take my own photos. But I really did miss having my camera along.