This will be the last update (probably) on tomorrow’s trip to Shining Rock.
WEATHER: The forecast still calls for highs close to 80 and a better-than-average chance of thunderstorms beginning after noon — a pretty common summer forecast. Again, I strongly encourage you to bring rain gear. We have a couple of passages through tight heath habitats that, after even a brief rain, treat your body like an automatic carwash. Temperatures tend to drop when storms move through in the mountains: the combo of wet and cool can make life uncomfortable.
PRIMITIVE CAMPING: If anyone is planning to primitive camp for the weekend, let me know. I’m heading up this afternoon and will be camping in the black balsam stand just west of the parking area. The forest floor is cush with pine needles and the canopy is dense, offering some protection from downpours.
BONUS SUNDAY HIKE: If you’re staying over Saturday night, we will do a bonus hike Sunday, starting from near Saturday’s trailhead and hiking east on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail into the Graveyard Fields area, home to a couple of nice waterfalls. That hike will also begin at 10 a.m. We’re looking at a maximum of 10 miles.
See everyone at 10 a.m. Saturday.
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UPDATED INFO ON SATURDAY’S HIKE
Hope you’re looking forward to a day in the mountains Saturday. Here is the plan for our hike at Shining Rock.
From the Black Balsam parking area we will hike north on the Ivestor Gap Trail for 2.2 miles. This trail follows an old road bed and is relatively flat, though rocky in spots. At Ivestor Gap, we will pick up the Art Loeb Trail and head north to Shining Rock, another 2 miles or so. We’ll have lunch at Shining Rock, a white quartz outcrop that’s fun to scramble on. We will return in figure 8 fashion, heading back on the Ivestor Gap Trail to Ivestor Gap, then picking up the Art Loeb Trail south, to the Art Loeb spur which leads down to the parking area. This circuit is 8.5 miles.
Back at the parking area, if you’re up for more, there’s a 2.5-mile loop into the Sam Knob/Little Sam Knob area on the Sam Knob and Flat Laurel Creek trails. A half mile (out-and-back) spur to Sam Knob offers great views.
I will have maps and trail directions at the traillhead.
Some additional notes:
GROUP SIZE. At Ivestor Gap we enter the Shining Rock Wilderness area. Group size is restricted to no more than 10 people. Here, we will send hikers off in groups of 10 in five minute intervals.
WILDERNESS AREA: Trails are generally not signed or blazed in wilderness areas, and can sometimes be hard to follow. Hopefully, the map and trail directions I provide will help. This is an especially good hike to have a compass on, to keep you from straying too far in the wrong direction.
WEATHER: As of Wednesday, the forecast for Canton, which is near the wilderness but 2,500 vertical feet below, calls for a high of 79 and a chance of thunderstorms. Where we will be it will likely be in the low 70s, with a chance of thunderstorms. I strongly suggest that you at least bring a rain jacket or poncho. The temperature often drops with a mountain thunderstorm, creating a double whammy of cold and wet. You should also bring an extra upper layer in case you get wet.
As always, I will lead from the rear. If you’re uncertain about the trail, hang in the rear and we should be fine.
I look forward to seeing everyone at 10 a.m. Saturday!
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The first of our monthly trips to the mountains to escape the summer heat. Destination: the Shining Rock Wilderness of the Pisgah National Forest. Shining Rock is a must-do destination for any Tarheel hiker. The Shining Rock Wilderness itself is 18,483 acres, and that’s a small part of an overall area known for high, open meadows and balds, rugged canyon climbs, and the passage across Shining Rock Ledge to Cold Mountain.
Depending upon how many hike leaders sign up (if you’re interested in leading, drop me a line), we will do multiple hikes ranging in distance and difficulty. The one hike we will definitely do, which I would rate as moderate/strenuous, is from the Black Balsam Forest Service parking area north on the Ivestor Gap Trail, which is relatively flat. We will take it to the southern edge of the Shining Rock Wilderness. From there, we will pick up the Art Loeb Trail heading north to Shining Rock. This is an out-and-back; the return will be on a slightly different route, mostly along the Art Loeb Trail. Total distance is about 12 miles.
The hike will start at 10 a.m. If you’d like to make a weekend of it, Brevard is the nearest town with good lodging options. The Davidson River Campground outside Brevard is about a half hour from the trailhead; it fills quickly on a summer weekend, reservations are highly recommended. The North Mills River Campground is also nearby. I plan to primitive camp; if you’re interested in hiking in 4-5 miles and setting up camp, leave a comment and we will hook up.
If there’s enough interest, we will do a hike(s) on Sunday as well. If you’re interested in hiking Sunday, leave a comment.
I’ll be posting more details as the date nears.