Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hell of a Grandstand!

For years and years and years. And years. And maybe some more years, I have visited the Black Mountains here in North Carolina and thought about climbing the nearby summit known simply as "The Pinnacle" to get a view of the East's loftiest peaks. One could tell just by looking at The Pinnacle that it would be a really good place to view the Black Mountains. And it wasn't just the logic of its placement--I'd also heard and read that the view on the summit was one of the best around.

But every time I was in that area I always had other hiking goals in mind. And whenever I'd plan a hike to The Pinnacle, something would always seem to get in the way and I'd have to put it off for another day.

However, because of the fact that Andy, Bob J. and I had gotten lost in the Mackey Mountain Roadless Area, we ended up deciding to hike the ridge that serves as home to this peak. So, finally, almost by accident, I was going to climb The Pinnacle.

Some people call this mountain Blue Ridge Pinnacle, which I actually prefer, even though it is not listed as such on any map. This is because the people of my native south so often showed no imagination whatsoever when it came to naming the peaks around them. I don't even want to know how many mountains here in the south are called "The Pinnacle". There have to be scores of them, if not more than a hundred. So I wish that it really was called Blue Ridge Pinnacle. We should make it so.

The hike to the top of this mountain is very darned easy. You have only to park along the Blue Ridge Parkway near the gated Mount Mitchell Toll Road. And then begin hiking the unofficial trial that skirts the border of the Asheville Watershed (making certain not to trespass onto the Watershed--they're serious about it and will arrest you if they catch you doing that) and then follow that trail along the ridgeline to the summit of The Pinnacle.

The hike is very pleasant, through classic high elevation northern forest types. In short order, and after what seems a very brief climb, you will emerge from the forest onto the exposed rocky summit of The Pinnacle. Be careful here because you will likely be gawking so much at the views that you might fall down.

Well, it took me a very long time to make it this summit, but I'm very happy that I finally got there. I highly recommend a visit. But not too many visits--I hate crowds and I want to go back to find a little solitude and natural beauty.

This is actually in Mount Mitchell State Park. This is part of the slope leading up to Clingman's Peak. We stopped there to use the rest room facilities before beginning our hike.

Posted sign warning you to stay off of the Asheville Watershed. They mean it. They are very serious about this.

Andy took this of me and the doggies. That's Boone in front of me and Kona bringing up the rear.

I love the way the southern trails pass through vegetation tunnels.

And, at last, the rocky summit of The Pinnacle. Here I could look across the saddle toward Graybeard Mountain.

Click to embiggen. One of the best grandstands to view the Black Mountains. Here, I've labeled some of the notable peaks visible from the top of The Pinnacle.

Me, on top of the highest point.

From left to right: Bob Johnson, Andy Kunkle, Me.

Andy, Boone, Bob, and Bob. I don't know where Kona was. Wandering about, I reckon.

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