I led a hike for the Elk Bugle Corp volunteers up to Mt. Sterling. Pat, Buddy, Teresa and me in that picture above.
We drove on NC 284 to Sterling Gap. I was driving and found that the hardest part of the day. Maybe Teresa who sat in the back of my car would agree with me.
Visitors in Cataloochee Valley ask “Is there any other way to get out of the Valley?” “Well technically, yes. You can drive on NC 284 to Cosby but you really don’t want to do that.” We all agree on that.
In order to make the hike easier, we started from Sterling Gap and walked about 2.7 miles to the top of the mountain and the tower. Easier, you might say? Well, we could have started on Little Cataloochee Trail and climbed Long Bunk Trail. As it was, the climb was about 2,000 ft. – up, up and more up. To slow down, we looked at flowers – cardinal flowers, spiderworts, Joe-Pye weed and one gorgeous trillium with a red fruit.
About three-quarters of the way up, Buddy, another volunteer, caught up with us. He had gotten the meeting time wrong so he really moved.
The view from the top of the Mt. Sterling Tower was outstanding. It was cloudy but the clouds just added interest and didn’t obstruct views.
After lunch, we ambled down. Buddy entertained us with a Cataloochee quiz – things he thought we should know about the Valley. After all, he is a teacher.
“How many people lived in Cataloochee before it became part of the park?”
“What four backcountry campsites are in Cataloochee and which ones need to be reserved in advance?”
I won’t give you the answers or give you more questions in case Buddy wants to use these questions again.
We may have been a little sore but we all had a good time.