HyiLast weekend we set about another short road trip. I stumbled upon an article about Mt. Mitchell a year or so ago while reading up on hiking in North Carolina. I mentioned it to my dad at the time and he told me that he and my uncle had visited there a few years back and that the view was really, really good. I decided then that I wanted to go there BUT convincing J to go there with me simply to hike wasn’t too likely… And convincing my dad and brother to go and stay over night was not likely either. So, what did I do?
I convinced all three of them to go with me on a 3+hour (one way) road trip to climb this mountain (and others) on one day. Thankfully, they all went for it. Yay! We even brought my little man (Peanut) along for the adventure again. We left Sunday morning around 7 o’clock and the ride there seemed to have went much quicker than I expected. We traveled through Nantahala and Maggie Valley, both of which are GORGEOUS. I want to visit Maggie Valley again soon. I would love to spend a few days there in a cabin on top of one of the many mountains through there. I bet there is a lot of hiking to be done there as well.
After getting on the Blue Ridge Parkway, we stopped at an overlook before continuing on to Mt. Mitchell. The view was amazing. I can’t really put it into words, so I’ll share a couple pictures from the overlook instead.
Once we snapped a few pics there and took it the view, we traveled a bit further to the Mt. Mitchell parking lot. We headed up the paved road to the top of themountain. Elisha Mitchell (who Mt. Mitchell is named after) is actually buried there. We followed the little walk way on up to the top of the overlook and the view was breathtaking. 360°of mountains. They even had little paintings of the mountains set up and marked so you could look into the distance, spot a mountain, and find its name. We spent 30 minutes or so up here and then started the trek back down. I talked the guys into taking the long way back down (Balsam Nature Trail) and though a bit rocky, it was a neat little trail. Giant rocks were all along the way, which was interesting. It reminded me a lot of the trails we went on in Arkansas last summer honestly. Did I mention how beautiful the red spruce and Fraser firs were? That was my first time seeing those… And the weather was perfect for hiking considering it was about 20°cooler on the mountain than in downtown Asheville!
When we left the park, we stopped in Asheville for a little bit. It was a nice little town. We didn’t spend much time there. Next time we are up that way I’d like to check out the Biltmore House (and forest. Mostly the forest 😉).
Overall, the trip was wonderful! It’s nice to spend time with those you love doing the things you love. Summer is almost over for me, so while I can still enjoy it, you can bet I’m going to!
A couple weekends back myself, my boyfriend, my dad, my brother, and my smallest pup decided to venture into North Carolina and drive the Cherohala Skyway. We went there a couple years ago and did a short hike and loved it. I’m not sure why we waited so long to go back.
Not long after we turned onto the skyway a bobcat jumped into the road in front of us, crossed, and made its way up the steep rocky back on the other side. I REALLY wish I could have gotten a picture. It was beautiful! It was also my first time seeing a live bobcat in person. We get them on our trail cameras a lot, but to actually see them out and about is almost impossible.
Our first stop along the way was at Huckleberry Knob. It is the highest point in the Cheoah Ranger District that covers 120,500 acres of the Nantahala National Forest. At the highest point (5,560 feet) you have an amazing view of the surrounding Unicoi Mountains.
The trail itself is fairly simple. It is only about 2.5 miles round trip. The hardest part for me was adjusting to that altitude (which really wasn’t that difficult either). The trail is an old road that travels through a huge open field to Oak Knob. You continue on the road and eventually you’ll reach Huckleberry Knob. There is a slight incline, but it isn’t difficult by any means.
At the top of Huckleberry Knob there is actually a grave. No, I’m not kidding. An actual grave. According to the stone at the base of the grave on December 11, 1899, Andy Sherman and Paul O’Neil left the Tellico Creek logging camp (TN) where they worked in an attempt to reach Robbinsville (NC) by Christmas. Unfortunately, neither of the men made it home. The following year, on September 6, 1900 a man by the name of Forest Denton was deer hunting on Huckleberry Knob and found the two bodies… along with multiple empty whiskey jugs. Andy Sherman’s grave is marked by a large metal cross on the knob, while Paul O’Neil’s skeleton was used as a medical exhibit by Dr. Robert J. Orr. Tellico and Robbinsville are right at about fifty miles apart. FIFTY. Is it possible to walk 50 miles in fourteen days? That’s an average of less than 4 miles a day, so technically you could easily cross that in less than 2 weeks BUT right in the middle of winter? Not too likely. I guess it would mostly depend on how harsh/mild the winter was…and how much whiskey you consumed along the way.
We also stopped at Hooper Bald Trailhead (5,290 feet). I was the only one of group that wanted to hike this trail (mostly because according to the clouds a hellacious storm was coming… and it did. Oops). Anyhow, it was shorter than Huckleberry Knob (just over a mile). Another gorgeous field and wild flowers with spectacular overlooks. I had a couple pictures taken at one of the overlooks when it came a literal downpour. I didn’t mind getting wet honestly, but everyone else was not happy. We ended up huddled under my emergency blanket under a tree at the edge of the field. After a few minutes of that we trudged back down the trail to the car. I would do it again, too, even knowing the storm was coming. Oh and there was some interesting info about an old hunting preserve that used to be on the top of Hooper Bald with a huge variety if animals. I had never actually heard of this… I’ll attach a picture with more information if you’re interested.
From there we made our way back to Tellico and stopped by Bald River Falls, which was amazing as always. I snapped a few pics from the bridge and wanted to hike to the top, but no one else seemed to like that idea. 🤣
In all, we were gone just over 8 hours and made one big huge circle from Georgia to North Carolina to Tennessee and then back home to Georgia. It’s days like these that I never want to forget. I am blessed to have an amazing family and the luxury of being able to go on adventures like this with them.
Spent Thursday morning/afternoon with my dad hiking Hemp Top Trail in the Chattahoochee National Forest. The weather was gorgeous! Hot of course, but the cover of the trees helped keep us cooled off. The majority of the trail was an old forest service road, which was nice.
About a mile up the mountain we just-so-happened to wander upon a rather large, defensive Timber Rattlesnake! I LOVE snakes, but she spooked me. However, I was so glad to finally see one! I was watching 9my step (like usual), but I was only looking about 3 feet ahead. We saw each other at about the same exact time. I froze in my tracks and threw my arms out to keep Dad from running over top of us both. I might have even let an expletive or two slip out.
Anyway, she immediately let out a loud puff of air (I don’t know how else to explain it) and went into a defensive coiled position in the middle of the trail. Once the initial shock wore off after a few seconds, I immediately turned on my camera and started taking pictures and making videos. She never offered to move until Dad attempted to get her to strike the walking stick I had. She had no interest. She tried to hide in the weeds on the edge of the trail against the bank. (The video I will attach below this post is her trying to hide in the weeds and us moving her across the trail and off the bank.)
She continuously rattled the entire time. We were with her at least 10 minutes and she never once stopped. If you’re interested, check out the video to see what happens. Pay extra close attention to the last few seconds. As she crosses the trail and disappears off the bank, watch how FAST she darts through the leaves. It amazed me. It is very clear to me that had she wanted to bite us when we first encountered her she could have easily.
I guess you’re wondering why I keep referring to it as “her” and “she.” Maybe you haven’t thought anything about it… but to answer the question anyway, I spoke with a somewhat local snake expert who is very experienced with most all snakes, especially venomous snakes. According to her, the Timber Rattlesnake we encountered was a gravid (pregnant) female! I knew she was really thick but didn’t realize she was going to be a mom!
I’m just thankful it was my dad and I that came up on her and not some asshole or coward whose philosophy is “the only good snake is a dead snake.” (Those people drive me INSANE.) I posted a picture and video to the local Facebook page and had a few “why didn’t you kill it?” “Shoot it!” “A dead snake is good snake!” responses… If your first response is that I will automatically assume you’re an idiot. Don’t try to justify your feelings on the matter. You’re WRONG. Plain and simple. I was respectful, but made sure to point out I was in HER home, she was not in my home. Also, I don’t believe in the senseless killing of anything. If you hunt and eat what you kill, I have no issue with that. BUT if you’re one of those people that kill creatures just because you’re a coward and scared of them, we will not get along.
Going to get off my snake/critter soapbox now. Hope you enjoy the pictures. Be sure to check out the video. The rattling sound is pretty amazing to see/hear if you’re like me and never experienced it before now.
Also, I was curious as to why the mountain was named Hemp Top. I asked Dad and he didn’t know (but he did know why they called Penitentiary Branch its name.. that’s for another time though!). I did a little research and found this little bit of info I thought was interesting.
Hemp Top – Translation of Cherokee word “gatun-lti-yiy,” or literally “hemp place.” This community in Fannin County was probably so named because of wild hemp (Apocyunum cannabinum), which apparently grew there. This species of hemp was used for bow strings. (Source)
YES, I’M YELLING! Nah but really, I’m so excited! I cannot wait to do some hiking and adventuring. I’ll try to make a few posts while I’m there to share pictures, but it will depend on how busy I stay. At the moment, I haven’t been asleep in 24 hours. Yes, that’s right. TWENTY-FOUR HOURS.
I had WAY too much to do to go to bed. Most of which was preparing for all my furbabies to be taken care of. Anyhow, I guess I should go for now. 3 hours down!!! 8 hours to go… 🙄
So, I found this little guy (or girl) while hiking with my Dad the other day. First and foremost, he was never harmed. A majority of the time I can ID any animal or insect on a trail, but I have a hard time IDing certain trees. Who knew there were so many different species of oak tree?!
Anyway, I was looking at my phone (not smart to not pay attention when you’re hiking) and just-so-happened to hear something rustle the leaves. I hear that sound often and 99% of the time it’s an Anole or Eastern Fence Lizard, but when I looked down it was this Copperhead!
He was slithering as fast as he could away from me. I was lucky that he never even struck at me. My dad held him in place (gently), so I could snap a quick picture of his gorgeous colors and then we all went happily on our way.
I adore snakes and it drives me INSANE when people kill them. I understand some people are scared of them, but does that mean everything we are scared of deserves a death sentence? No, it does NOT. I won’t get on my soap box for now, because I could on ALL day long.
Just do me a favor and remember everything has its place in the ecosystem. When we hike we are in their territory, not our own. Don’t let fear drive you and cause unnecessary harm to anything.
PS: I am proud to say I can now decipher Northern Red Oaks, Southern Red Oaks, White Oaks, and Post Oaks. That’s something at least, right? 😉