Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Around Pisgah Inn

Starting with 275.4 miles, 39,100 ft. ascent

MST8-Looking Glass View

US 276 to NC 151

10 miles, 1,750 ascent

Out of bed at 6 A.M. and out of the house at 7 A.M. Sharon and I are hiking another section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

We drive up NC 151 through the community of Hominy to the Blue Ridge Parkway. NC 151 is more twisty than NC 215 on our last section, if that’s possible.

The trail starts downhill from US 276. Grasshoppers are hopping everywhere in the grass. This section is perfectly  maintained, maybe because we’re on our way to the Pisgah Inn. The Inn is one of several places that offer a sit-down meal and rooms on the Parkway.

Would MST hikers have trail names? I’m sticking with Danny. Sharon is already Smokyscout. She points out that camp counselors at resident scout camp choose a nickname, that they call a camp name. Campers may not even know the counselor’s real name. When she was a scout leader, her troop called her by her last name, just like a teacher. So far, I’ve not heard of trail names for MST hikers, but why not?

MST8-Lady SlipperLots of small water crossings keep the area moist and full of flowers. We pass by Solomon seal and Solomon plume, Vasey’s trillium, bluets, blue bead lilies, wild lilies of the valley, lots of wood betany, michaux saxifrage (considered an infrequent flower), bell wort, and a couple of clumps of lady slippers (on the left). There are vast clumps of cinnamon ferns with a red stick in the middle .

We reach the Inn and have our lunch outside on the porch. We tell everyone that we’re walking the MST. We’re spreading a little education here. One woman said “I wish I could do that.” What can you say to that?

We meet three women, who had breakfast at the Inn and are now taking a short hike from the Inn. Since they live in Brevard, I plug Carolina Mountain Club. One said that she tried hiking with the club but didn’t like it. “Too many people”, she said.

MST8-Sharon and Danny at Buck Spring OverlookWe pass the Buckspring Lodge site, where George Vanderbilt had a hunting lodge. He and his hunting buddies rode 18 miles from the Biltmore Estate to the lodge. A few artifacts remain including a root cellar (below).

 

MST8-Buck Spring Root CellarAfter lunch comes the big climb up to Little Pisgah Mountain. I’ve eaten too much lunch and I can feel it. It’s only 300 feet up but it’s a struggle  – I shouldn’t have put so much cheese in my sandwich.

The trail descents through white trilliums past their prime finally to Elk Pasture Gap. We’re back at the car in the early afternoon. The Parkway is closed east from here for several miles. A middle-age motorcyclist, dressed impeccably in red leather, parks his bike on the side of the road and lays down on the grass for an afternoon  nap.

We drive down US 276 to pick up the second car and finally a trip to Dolly’s Ice Cream Bar. The last chance for Sharon.

Cumulative after Day 23  285.4 miles, 40,850 ft. ascent

 

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