Starting with 300.8 miles, 42,750 ft.
Bull Gap to Greybeard Overlook
11.4 miles, 3,900 ft. ascent
We started at Bull Gap where we ended last December. It seems like a
long time ago when the MST project was just an idea. Now we’ve done more
than 300 miles and it looks like we will complete the trail.
I’m wearing my colorful splint and using only one pole but I was not going to give up these two days of hiking. We had it planned for weeks. Canceling the backpack was bad enough. Yes, my wrist was declared broken on Tuesday and the hand specialist said I need to wear the splint when I did “perilous” activities. I never thought of hiking as perilous but he was concerned about my falling again on the wrist.
We quickly arrived at Rattlesnake Lodge, the summer home of Asheville physician and Carolina Mountain Club member Chase Ambler.
The home, built in 1903, was occupied until it burned to the ground in the late 1920s. You can see the retaining walls, and the foundations for the tennis courts, swimming pool (shown above) and cabins. Ambler’s wife and children went up to their summer home as soon as school let out and Dr. Ambler came up on weekends. Ambler owned land from Bull Gap to Lane Pinnacle and supervised the building of a horse trail from his property to Mt. Mitchell. It was supposed to be part of the “Crest of the Blue Ridge Highway”, the precursor of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
We continued up to Lane Pinnacle where we could see Beetree Reservoir, Asheville’s water supply. Fire pinks, columbines, spiderworts lined the trail. So did multiflora roses, an exotic invasive. We saw a few spectacular flame azaleas, shown below.
Catawba rhododendrons were way past their prime and the trail was covered with their pink flowers. The day was very humid and we were dripping wet. The trail went down to cross Beetree Gap, which was filled with construction equipment. Craggy Gardens picnic area was closed because of construction and we had the trail to ourselves.
We went through the Civilian Conservation Corps shelter which had been rehabilitated since I wrote Hiking the Carolina Mountains.
Then we started the really perilous section. From the nature trail to Greybeard Overlook, the trail was wet, rocky and uneven. Rocks were wobbly and roots protruded every which way. Sharon slipped and fell on her knee. I was overcautious and went slow. The trail seemed like it would never end. But it did.
Cumulative after day 26, 312.2 miles, 46,650 ft. ascent