Getting out of Atlanta on a Friday night is never easy, and tonight was no exception. The Operator, Rockhopper, Gator Girl, and I hit the road around 5:30pm but our efforts to dodge the grid lock on I-285 and GA 400 were ineffective. It took us 1 1/2 hours to get to the Mall of Georgia just outside of town.
As a result, we made it to Brevard, North Carolina after dark since the drive across the mountains on NC 178 was slow and tedious with all the switchbacks. We stopped at the Burger King for a late dinner and ran into ALE and Pocahontas at the drive-thru by sheer coincidence. We planned to meet them at the Davidson River Campground, but they got to town the same time we did this evening. This helped significantly since the campground was full of campers and finding them without a cell phone would have been a major challenge.
With no available sites in the campground, the ranger suggested we drive up a dirt road and car camp for the night. So we drove for thirty minutes and finally found a suitable campsite around midnight at a trailhead used by climbers to access the base of the mountain. There were snow flurries blowing as we set up tents and the temperature hovered in the mid-30’s. We immediately torched our supply of Bi-Lo firewood and watched a full moon cast a silhouette on Looking Glass Rock as two climbers made a night ascent up the mountain. The scene looked more like a Hollywood movie, and the climbers were still moving when we finally sacked out around 3:30pm tonight.
We slept late the next morning, and didn’t roll out of our sleeping bags until 10am. The Camel and Kristine were due in Brevard today from Charlotte and we met them for breakfast at the Huddle House (after they tracked us down by my cell phone which was suddenly working this morning).
It took forty-five minutes to load our backpacks and to pick up some grub at Bi-Lo this morning. The hike up the mountain was difficult and after a break at a rock outcropping, we finally reached the summit in about three hours.
The views from the summit are always spectacular, and we checked them out when we first arrived on the summit. The lower campsite (which turned out to be much better than the summit site) was open, so we pitched our tents just before dark. I’ve climbed this mountain four times, and this is the first night we’ve used the lower site.
The weather was great for hiking today – warm and sunny and in the 70’s – but it was in the 30’s again tonight. We checked out the midnight view from the overlook, and also caught a somewhat obstructed sunset earlier in the evening. There are three roads visible from the overlook, and they are evenly spaced up and down the opposing mountain. The highest road is the Blue Ridge Parkway, and at night it’s relaxing to watch the cars wind along the ridge and in the valley below. It was too chilly to hang out on the outcrop for long, however, and we spent most of the evening crowded around the campfire. ALE and Pocahontas were up at 7:30am the next morning to head back to Charlotte for an Easter lunch. The rest of us had a leisurely morning and finally hit the trail around noon. ALE and Pocahontas took a wrong turn on the way down the mountain and got lost for 45 minutes. That moved earned Pocahontas a trail name, but they eventually found the trucks without too much difficulty.
This is one of my most favorite hikes in the Pisgah National Forest, and once again it delivered.