Monday, August 26, 2013

Sunday in the Shining Rock District

After not a lot of sleep on Friday night, I slept really well Saturday night. The wind was gentle and steady while the temperature dropped into the low 50's for perfect conditions. I woke up just in time to see the sun peak over the mountains.

After a breakfast of plantain blue berry pancakes and bacon, the group was ready to hike back to the trailhead. Matt joked that it was all down hill as we climbed out of the gap.  I told that was like saying that from Clingman's Dome to Katahdin on the AT is all down hill.  There was plenty of down hill but there were several good climbs. The trail itself was narrow with blue berry and black berry bushes on both sides. Unfortunately the berry were not sweet like the ones in the gap. They were also full of bees. Luckily only one person got stung and he said he didn't usually have any reaction. 

About half way down there were two stream crossings. At the first one four of us decided to brave the chilly mountain water and go for a quick swim. A quick dip was all I could manage. It was so cold I hurt in places that I'd rather not hurt ever. 

At the second crossing a couple of the hikers got wet but not by choice. I ended up stepping on a rock just under water but my trail runners usually dry very quick. 

After the crossings we had just over three miles to the cars. I'm not sure where the rest of the group went after the hike but the occupants of my car told me they wanted to stop at the first place with fries, cheeseburgers and 32 ounce cokes. 

Hiking to the Shining Rock

Several times I've hiked in the Shining Rock Wilderness. Just before Trail Trash and I hiker the AT we hiked along the MST and could see the big white rock off in the distance. This weekend's trip would go the  top of Shining Rock. 

This morning started early, 4 AM early. I did a little last minute packing. You know the kind where you throw in those last minute items you thought of in the middle of the night and then never use. I've gotten better over the years but I still do it every so often. 

This hike is a Piedmont Hiking and Outing Club trip so on the way to the trailhead I picked up three other guys. After a couple of stops we arrived at a crowded trailhead. I guess a lot of other people decided to take advantage of this weekend's great weather. 

Today's route is the Big Butt Trail. It is not a long trail but it is steep and narrow. Most of the time it was thick laurel but closer to the top there black berries and occasionally blue berry bushes.   As I walked along I reached up for a snack. 

At the top of the climb was Shining Rock. I climbed to the top and found a stop for lunch in the warm sun. It may be August but the temperature is in the 60's here. A Scout Troop from Hickory came up to check out the views and play on the rocks. Their Scoutmaster and I struck up a conversation that ended up being a Q&A session about my pack and lightweight backpacking. Later he passed by our camp and checked out my tent. He really liked The One by Gossamer Gear.

There are nine of us camped on at Flowers Gap tonight. The air is chilly and I'm glad I packed my puffy jacket. We didn't hike very far today but its been a long day and I'm ready for some sleep