Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Leaving the CMC Cocoon

Starting with 332.3 miles, 50,550 ft. ascent

 

MST10-Fishhatcheryarch

Black Mountain Campground to NC 80

7.8 miles, 1,300 ft. ascent

We broke camp and piled everything in Sharon‘s car. We were able to walk out of the campground and unto the MST. I was not sure of what to expect once we left the Carolina Mountain Club cocoon.

We each had a copy of the page from Scot Ward‘s book – from now on, we’ll be depending on him and any maps we can get.  On this stretch, we had the USDA Forest Service map of the South Toe River, Mount Mitchell & Big Ivy Trail.

We walked on a dirt road and up FR-2074 where we saw several stone and brick remains.MST10-fishhatcheryonFR2074 Two low structures were obviously fish ponds. A woman camper told us that it was a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) site. They had built the first fish hatchery in North Carolina along Neils Creek (Yancey County).

MST10-CCCbuildingsfishhatchery The building pictured with Sharon (left) was the bathroom. On the other side of the road is an archway, with me coming through, shown above. The site also had the remains of a chimney.

I was not able to verify what this woman said. I searched the web in several different ways and looked at That Magnificent Army of Youth and Peace: the Civilian Conservation Corps in North Carolina, 1933-1942 by Harley E. Jolley – but nothing. If anyone knows more about this site, I sure would appreciate it.

The trail then turned into the woods and switchbacked beautifully. For a couple of miles, we enjoyed well-signed, cleared trail until the bottom dropped out – literally in one place. The trail was littered with blowdowns and in one place, dipped dangerously down.MST10-trailcavingin After a half-mile of slow-going, the trail improved and was back to its old, maintained self until it reached the Blue Ridge Parkway.

MST10-stepscutintree At one point, steps were cut into a fallen tree. The maintenance team must have come in from both ends and had not yet reached the middle.

Once we got to the Parkway, we could not find the trail. Did it go back into the woods or follow the road for a while? After much discussion, we walked the Parkway until Singecat Ridge Overlook where we found the trail again. Sharon was bothered and wanted to go back and find that (maybe) half-mile and do it. I wasn’t bothered. We weren’t going to skip a section or drive a section but if we can’t find the trail and walk on the road for a short while, I think it’s OK.

MST10-PipsissewaWe got back into the woods with its rosebay rhododendrons and pipsissewa, small white flowers with variegated leaves.

MST10-EndatNC80The trail went over a tunnel and down to NC 80. Here I am just plopping down in the sun.

My first thought back into civilization was “Who won the NC Democratic Senate Runoff Race?” You did vote, didn’t you?

 

 

Cumulative after day 29, 340.1 miles, 51,850 ft. ascent

 

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