Last evening at the Carolina Mountain Club annual dinner and meeting, our guest speaker was Mark Wenger, Executive Director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Today, he hiked with us at Bent Creek. We were supposed to hike on Max Patch on the A.T. but with a foot of snow up at 5,000 feet, we stayed close to Asheville. It was a good decision.
The day started cold but 13 hikers showed up including two guests. We climbed up to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and we bumped into runners doing the Shut-in Race.
This is a serious 18-mile, 3,000 feet ascent from the NC Arboretum to Pisgah Inn. Actually, this year, it was 19 miles since some of the Blue Ridge Parkway is closed. The runners we saw were at the tail end. However just finishing this grueling race is an achievement. At one point, we saw our internist, Dr. Hemme, and cheered him on.
After the runners passed us, the hike went down to Bent Creek Trail. We took a detour on the Carolina Mountain Trail, built by CMC, to the Arboretum where we had lunch.
This was not a wilderness experience. Instead,we had the chance to talk about conservation issues, trade some tips on gear and make plans for future hikes. That’s what a hiking club is all about. We actually get out there.