Sunday, February 28, 2016

Next Wilderness Hike

After some consideration I have settled on my next solo-hike/camping destination. It will be the Art Loeb Trail in the Pisgah National Forest. It passes through National Forest land and one wilderness area. I may try to summit Cold Mountain (yes, the one from the popular novel/movie) which is at the northern terminus of the trail. However, the mountain is not high on my radar even though it is one of the last North Carolina 6K-foot peaks I have not bagged.

The trail has become quite popular, but I'm hoping that I won't bump into numbers of people since I will be in the Forest in March, and during the week which will hopefully keep the crowds away. This will be my first major hike into the Shining Rock Wilderness. I tend to avoid Shining Rock because of the crowds, although I have been in there a few times. I once planned an overnight backpacking trip there but when I arrived at the trailhead there was--and I am not exaggerating--a line of hikers numbering at least one hundred heading up the slopes. I took one look at that ridiculous sight and headed over to Middle Prong Wilderness where almost no one goes; and I was rewarded with sweet solitude--not one other human.

So now is time to plot out a route and look at water sources and mapped campsites.

On Cedar Rock, along the Art Loeb Trail.

Panorama taken from the summit of Little Sam Knob looking toward Sam Knob (on the far left) and the heights of Shining Rock Wilderness beyond.

Very high country in Middle Prong Wilderness.

We don't have genuine alpine landscape in North Carolina, but we have a false version of it created by past logging practices in which the forests were felled from the high country and then the soil was depleted through fires and rainstorms, resulting in a substrate that trees have had a hard time in reclaiming. Thus, we have a faux alpine environment here that will take hundreds of years for the dark forests to reclaim.

Mount Hardy, over 6100 feet above sea level.

The southern summit of the double-summit of Sam Knob. Taken from the northern end of the peak.

Video taken just off the Art Loeb Trail on the John Rock cliffs.

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