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That's exactly what I've been doing this weekend

I live in a pretty cool location, it's about an hour and a half to either the coast or the mountains from here.

This weekend I decided to go mountain climbing.

Thought I'd share some of the beauty of my home with ya'll

We started off early Saturday morning by driving up very little known dirt roads (to the tourists that is)
that take you from the back side of Lenoir NC all the way up the mountains across Pisgah Nat'l Forest
to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
This is one beautiful drive, but if you don't know where you're going it's best
to stick to the highways! You could get lost, breakdown, or run out of gas- and trust me,
there is nobody that can come and get you barring a passing helpful local-
and that cell phone won't do you a bit of good.

Here's a shot of a one lane bridge over a creek that we crossed getting there

[Image: bridge.jpg]

These roads were STEEP, and switch back on themselves again and again.
The higher we got, the rougher and more beautiful the terrain

[Image: backcountry.jpg]

We passed a total of 2 cars on these roads, and they were just campers parked by the creek.

Then, still early, we topped the hill onto the Blue Ridge Parkway just south of our target; Grandfather Mountain.

[Image: GFMmorning.jpg]

Now lots of folks have probably heard of this place, and some may expect it to be a bit tourist-trappy-

but quite the contrary, this is a first class nature preserve, and though well visited, pretty much unspoiled.

Of course there is the mile high swinging bridge, mini-zoo, (great habitats for the animals, better than most
of the zoos I've seen) museum, and assorted gift shops to keep the kids and Ma & Pa sightseers busy.

But there are then the nature trails.

These will take you to the tops of the mountains, and are not for the novice, though many try.

here's a view off the mountain from near the trailhead

[Image: AppalachiansForever.jpg]

of course, we know the Appalachians pale beside the Rockies for majesty,
but these are the largest of the Appalachians, topping out around 6000ft,
and NC climate makes Alpine go jungle wild! It is extremely beautiful, and wonderfully fragrant

[Image: Alpine.jpg]

Then the climbing began in earnest. The tops of these mountains are nothing but huge vegetated rocks

[Image: GFMfaces.jpg]

Then once you get to the top, there's this huge rock you have to climb to get to the peak.

Here I am standing in the crag, behind and below me there's nothing but DOWN

[Image: Keithtothetop.jpg]

once I climbed up the rock to the peak, it came to my mind that this view made it all worth it.
Here's the top of Grandfather Mtn from McRae peak.

[Image: GFMfromMcRae.jpg]

Did you see Grandfather? top left of the big rock.
Also note the rock climber in red for scale

We started to take on off down the trail and climb it as well, but the day was getting long, and I was getting hungry.
So we took the low trail back off the mountain and headed home.

If you're ever in my neck of the woods tooling around, this is not a place to miss.
<img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/cheers.gif" alt="Cheers" title="cheers" />

Here's their website
Nothing second-rate looking about that country. Pretty thick too!
Heard weather's been hot back East, but the shade under those trees by the bridge looked nice and cool.
It was about 95' at the bottom of the Blue Ridge

at the top it was 75' with a chilly breeze, but intense sun.
just right for a perfect hiking day (notice I hadn't even broken a sweat, though the climbing was strenuous)

I look to go back a little later this summer and camping near that creek.
There are Rainbow and Brown trout in there that are screaming to get in my belly!
Oooooooh! Love stuff like this. We had a thread previously where
THM'ers posted their expeditions and the like. Should restore it if you can,
there's probably lot's of links to pics and movies all "hanging" idle.

Quote:notice I hadn't even broken a sweat, though the climbing was strenuous

The only thing that spoils things for me. I can walk for hours and up and down the steepest
inclines you care to mention. In fact the steeper the more the challenge when I'm in
"keeping fit" mode. But these days I always end up wringing out my clothes and a quick
change. Never used to be like that. Must be age changes!

<img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/cheers.gif" alt="Cheers" title="cheers" />
Quote:Nothing second-rate looking about that country. Pretty thick too!
Heard weather's been hot back East, but the shade under those trees by the bridge looked nice and cool.

Actually around me it hsnt been too hot with temps maxing out in the upper 80s and 90s.

Nice pictures, I am hoping to go up to the mountains in august if possible. Unfortunatly it takes about 3-4hours to get to the mountains from where I am, so its not just a long day trip.
Has anyone had a go at the Sierra Nevada? They are more rugged than the Rockies and less lush than the Appalachians.
You bet!
Spent many weekends in the Stanislaus drainage out of Sonora, California when a teenager.
We used to go up thru Twain Hart, up thru Strawberry, past Kennedy Meadows and over the top of Sonora pass (Summit of Sierras) and down on the Walker river for fishing.
Coming back up Sonora pass and then dropping down on the Stanislaus there was a point you could see what were two sheer walls of granite plunging straight down to the river that looked like thousands of feet (nearly).
Yosemite had nothing on it for breathtaking vistas in my opinion.
I've sure seen some really big mountains since, but nothing much prettier.
how inspirational! cant make it as much as i would like to. oh well there is always kisatchie forest, just waiting for weather under 90 degrees now. please send some cool fronts south we need them now
Just beautiful, Keith. Thanks for sharing.
Here's another 'stroll in a park':

Enjoy! <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/smoke.gif" alt="Smoke" title="smoke" />
how wonderful our planet is! so pretty-I noticed that your Spruces are coning up too! I've been to SC and to Maryland but never NC---the Smokies... yeah tropical alpine... beautiful-thank you for that Keith.
Quote:Here's another 'stroll in a park':

Enjoy! <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/smoke.gif" alt="Smoke" title="smoke" />

Holy shit!

That is downright LOONIE TUNES!

I think were it me I'd prefer to simply climb the rocks. No telling if or when the walkway would collapse

There are several places along the Grandfather climb that you have to scale sheer cliff faces via these big ladders made of 4x4s, and several places where they have cables to hold while walking across others, but none of them are decrepit.
Those are beautiful places of power Keith.
You should go there as much as possible, you look like a natural hiker/climber in that image.
That is what I save all my money for, the costs of going to places locally like that,
as we kind of have it all here in the PNW real close to home in Bellingham.

I went up what is called Dock Butte and it was still covered thick in snow, thickest I have seen ...ever.
That is where I got lost last year in the snow coming down from the top.
But you have to face the demon so to say, and I decided to try and find my way up
through the steep snow fields,
and lost the route within 20 minutes, and it took another hour of short runs across the snow banks in various directions
but I finally found the niche where you squeeze through densely treed slopes and you find the way to the top.
I can really move in snow that is soft from heat.
I have a running foot ski like scampering stride and I can move across wide areas of terrain incredibly quickly.
Then once to the top, one can foot ski back down the steep slopes just like a skier and better
and descend a thousand feet in elevation in no time flat.

It was fantastic to hike the snow to the peak in the 85 degree heat.
But the peak was too snow packed to chance climbing.
I got lost as well on the way down for about 45 minutes, and it is unnerving,
but I was far more careful about finding the correct route and made it back no problem.

I carry a space blanket now when I hike, and fresh wool socks for wet feet in snowy areas.

The high mountain snow hiking has just opened here in the PNW around Mt Baker,
and I hope to be there tomorrow.

images last year

top of Baker
[Image: DSC08294.jpg]

top of Washington pass climbing the peak above Blue Lake
[Image: DSC08535.jpg]

Blue Lake below on bottom left with the same two trees in front of me
[Image: DSC08548.jpg]
Just stunning, V. I'm envious of you guys. Not much to see around DFW really. Certainly no mountains!
excellent country Vic,

We're going to have to arrange a trade, I'll come up there and go off in your wilderness with you, and you can come traipse off in mine with me.
If you are coming this way, Keith, don't forget the Sierra Nevada. <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/cheers.gif" alt="Cheers" title="cheers" />
Keith I will never make it out there, but if you are coming this way you can certainly come along to the best of the PNW mountains.
The hike in Washington state to do of all choices is Hidden Lake Peak outside Marblemount off the Cascade River Road.
There are 3 hikes in one route.
I am going to check it out up there in a week or so, and see how far the snow pack is up.
Keith......any weird insights while marching to the tune of...

Billions of years
Billions of years
Billions and Billions and Billions of years...

[Image: 6a00e54ef8375388330120a7b1fca9970b-500wi]
I never go anywhere in the wilderness without TWO mylar blankets V, but that's a survival story for another time.

I would simply love to explore the Pacific NW with you, and look forward to one day soon being able to do so

<img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/cheers.gif" alt="Cheers" title="cheers" />
and Yes Kalter, billions and Billions of years
and an aside for FSBirdhouse

There's lotsa gold in them hills.

I retrieved a little less than an ounce from my sluice in about an hour in that one creek I showed above
And why are you doing anything else?

When you make that trip to the PNW, Yellowstone's just on the way, and at least two HMF members as well.
Bring the fishing rod...., or not. I got plenty!
God, I just love you guys, Rofl
Hey Fs, come to find out, USGS creek tests have shown placer gold even in the flatland streams near my house to be .02-.003 gold dust.

NC Piedmont to the mountains is one of the places subducted by the gold bearing area of South Africa about 750mya

Left us a nice little present in the form of rich bands of Gold ore and about every kind of semiprecious (and precious? minerals you could think of)

I always look for sedimentary rock shot through with milky quartz along the creeks usually below them on inward facing bends is where there will be black sand and goodies.

You should see my Sluice..

I applied mad design skills to it, lol

All aluminum, easy to carry
[quote author="deo"]If you are coming this way, Keith, don't forget the Sierra Nevada. Cheers
I can even show you a place to pan, not far from Immigrant's pass.
I wish I lived near where I could pan for gold, that would be my hobby. <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/rofl.gif" alt="Rofl" title="rofl" />
It is often cold, wet hard work with little payback, but great fun. <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/rofl.gif" alt="Rofl" title="rofl" />
Quote:It is often cold, wet hard work with little payback, but great fun. <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/rofl.gif" alt="Rofl" title="rofl" />

I once went on a trip to Hiddenite with my family a few years ago(forget how many) found all sorts of of intresting things(including a geode). The only thing I hated was that I couldnt sit down and while squating, kept getting my ass in the water of the creek there. It also rained while we were there the entire time. I must still get grit for the rock tumbler so I can polish some of those things. Out of all of it though, the thing I like most is the giant chunk of quartz we brought back which embedded in one side is a huge quartz crystal a couple inches wide and a few inches long.
And why are you doing anything else?

When you make that trip to the PNW, Yellowstone's just on the way, and at least two HMF members as well.
Bring the fishing rod...., or not. I got plenty!

That's a good question FS. Good living long as long as you can handle the bugs eating you alive, lol

Well, I say an hour, but that's just the shoveling and washing, not including the time getting there, setting up and all that..
Got a nug about the size of a 00 buckshot last time I was up here (we didn't go sluicing this trip, I had hiking on my mind)

Oh! and you can find emeralds, garnets and rubies here too.
Back in the day-
I went from pan, to sluice box, to two inch dredge, a little four inch dredging, then jumped to an eight incher on the Klamath river in Northern calif in 1985.
Wish I'd had my thinking cap on a little tighter. I already had certain special skills related to my trade that I could have adapted to gold dredging.
All I would have needed was a three inch dredge (big enough to pump breathing air), pan, buckets, and four 50 ton porta-powers.
I'd have retired 20 years ago.

That trick might work quite well on your little streams too!
You know what I find is the most useful tool in knowing what streams to look in?

modern geological surveys.

See, around here we were squeezed between africa and the ancient sea beds on either side of what is the Appalachians, this punched up biotite schist and other deep mineral rich domes while pushing the seabed like a crust up into areas like Grandfather If you look at the creak picture I posted, we were riding up the side of the dichotomy between these, with the reddish metamorphic sandstone on one side the schist (which is shot through with 'dirty' quarts veins in the other.

Black sand everywhere!

That's just the Linville area

Here about my house we have the monroe shales, which were neatly deposited horizantally and then raised vertically after Africa rode up here, behind them as the land falls nearly every creek has fine gold, and as they develop the area and clear the land I expect to find more locally than anywhere.

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