Today's miles: 13.9
First thing in the morning, I woke up pre-dawn and could not get back to sleep, so I stayed up and read until it got light outside, then started to prepare things for the day while listening to WNCW “the state of things” with a debate/discussion between Duke Power and NC Warren – a watchdog environmental group about the new coal plant that Duke Power wants to open up north of Charlotte. It’s extremely controversial for the environmental community – because it would majorly increase CO2 emissions. It was an interesting, heated discussion. It seems like it will be decided very soon.
As I walked down the ridge to Black Mtn Campground, and onto the Mt. Mitchell Trail, I passed by loads (like a dozen!) of dayhikers, out for the nice Saturday morning to hike! Some had even been camping at the grounds. Imagine – in February. I listened to NPR (WNCW) jazz for 1.5 hours, then an hour of cartalk on the other NPR station, then on to bluegrass. I passed by about 5 hikers going up, all backpackers. The mountain trail was beautiful, and reminded me of a bit of Mt. Rogers as I got higher up.
Some trees were labeled “poison tree” and there were a lot of downed trees, cloaked in moss and lichen. Up, slowly, and steadily, the trail rose. Sections of it were coated in ice, and the temperatures began to drop. Once I got a little bit higher, I was cloaked in a cloud. At the turn-off for the summit, there was a sign saying, “Trail Closed Use Detour; Danger: Keep out” Bullshit. You cannot close a mountain summit. So I dropped my pack and climbed up, to the 6,648 foot summit, where the observation tower was under construction. Snapped some silly shots among the foggy wreckage, then descended to the main trail. I then began the easy “climb” down from the parking lot, thinking about whether or not it’s a good thing that the highest peak in the eastern US is accessible by road. Would it be better if it were hiking only? Research only? Completely closed to the public? Closed to humans? For us, the Black Mtn range seems manageable. But when Elisha Mitchell died on these mountains, there weren’t any established trails, steps, blazes on trees, or switchbacks. That would be such a different experience.
I am now on the south side of Potato Knob, sitting and reading/writing and listening to WNCW public radio, and their eight hours of bluegrass on Saturdays. I talked to Salam today, and he asked me right off the bat how my face is doing. I assured him that it is normal.