Mountains-to-Sea Trail - Major Blowdowns
Starting with 265.1 miles, 37,200 ft. ascent
FS 816 to US 276
10.3 miles, 1,900 ft.
Look at that mileage - it was going to be an easy, peasy day - so I thought.
Sharon and I were no longer in the wilderness and were approaching the area that Carolina Mountain Club hikes regularly so the trail should be maintained better. A breeze and we'll have time to get an ice cream at Dolly's Dairy Bar before we head our separate ways - Sharon to a Girl Scout meeting in Charlotte, me to a CMC meeting. I had promised Sharon a Dolly ice cream stop for days now.
From FS 816, the trail is open. The views reminded me of Switzerland but with less civilization. Mt. Pisgah is the sentinel in the distance. Serviceberries dotted the landscape. However, the rocky footing was more like the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Even though we were going down, we were slow as we watched our steps carefully.
The trail skirts Graveyard Fields and Ridge and we had views of Dark Prong Falls. Jack-in-the-pulpit and foam flowers lined the trail. A middle-aged couple with a poodle followed us for a while as the trail descended toward Skinny Deep Falls. We thought the dog was named Chocolate, though I kept calling it Frou-Frou - maybe that was its trail name. Did they realize how fast the trail was dropping and were they prepared to go steeply back up?
Finally we reached Skinny Dip Falls, which I understand, will be renamed.
Beautiful cascades dropped several levels through rocks. It reminded me of Linville Falls though Skinny Dip Falls were wilder. CMC had built a major bridge to cross the Yellowstone Prong.
After that, the trail turned into a tree-strewn hell. We weren't bushwhacking - it was tree whacking. We went through smaller piles, around larger piles, always mindful to not lose the trail. The critical blaze could be on the tree that just came down.
This section of trail is maintained by the Brevard CMC crew - they just hadn't gotten around to clearing it. We discussed the best way to get around each pile. It was very time consuming. We knew we had a tough climb up to Green Knob coming up. Was it going to be this bad?
We crossed the Parkway twice to start the climb to Green Knob. To our delight, the trail was clear. Ordinarily we would have groaned about a climb so close to the end of the hike but we climbed eagerly. We came down just as eagerly to cross the Parkway again - I was confused and thought we should be at US 276 already. But no, we had about a mile and lots more blowdowns to get to the car.
My legs and arms are like a modern art painting, full of bloody scratches. No ice cream for us today. Maybe next time.
Cumulative after Day 22 275.4 miles, 39100 ft. ascent