It’s been miserable here in Asheville. Below freezing temperatures, ice and wind has kept even me indoors and working out at the “Y”. And of course, all those downed trees blocking the trail.
But we had to scout a hike that Lenny is leading in 10 days for the Carolina Mountain Club – Sassafras Mt. The mountain is the highest in South Carolina, 3,550 ft. Though it doesn’t compare to Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina (6,684 ft.), the top is still much higher than Asheville. So how cold was it going to be?
We took extra hats, gloves and socks. We pulled out our gaters that we hadn’t used since we moved to North Carolina, just in case there was deep snow. We even took a saw to cut away trees that might be blocking the trail.
We were very pleasantly surprised. The trail to Sassafras Mt. is on the Foothills Trail, a 77 mile trail which follows the Blue Ridge escarpment in South and North Carolina. It is lovingly maintained by the Foothills Trail Conference. They’ve done a great job building steps, bridges and just taking care of the trail.
But even they couldn’t remove the snow and ice. But there was no snow on the trail and only a little ice. On that icy stretch, we used our yak-tracks, a gismo that you put on your boots to give you traction in ice. Up north, we had crampons for that but 10-point crampons with sharp points are just overkill.
We got to the top of Sassafras Mt. and had lunch in the sun. It must have been in the high 30s but it felt wonderful. Going down, we walked the road half-way, just for a change. Of course, we saw no one on the trail and just one car on the road.
It felt great to get out.