I just got back from a trip to Hendersonville NC to visit my dad's family. While there I had the opportunity to do a long day hike. When I was planning for this trip I debated between doing a long hike in the shining rock wilderness and climbing Mt. Mitchell from the north. I decided to climb Mt. Mitchell because they weather was good the day of my hike and I had never hiked in the Black Mountains before but I have been to the Shining Rock Wilderness. My plan was to wake up early in Hendersonville drive up to Burnsville, park at the Bowlens Creek trail head and get as far south as I could along crest turn around and get back to the car before dark. When I got to Bowlens Creek the road that looked like it led to the trail head was private so I went back into Burnsville to check how to access the trail at the ranger station. The nice lady and the ranger station told me that even though the road is private the public is allowed to use it to access the trail. She also told me where to park my car because the actual trailhead can only be accessed with a high clearance 4WD vehicle. After the run around I left the trailhead at 10 AM. The first part of the trail climbs 3000' to the crest along an old logging road. This part of the trail was easy to follow and the climb went quickly.
At 4400' I started to encounter rime frost on the trees
On the climb up I also found numerous ice crystals that grew out of the ground. I have seen this before in Minnesota in the spring but I do not know what they are called. These particular crystals were 4-5" high
Around 5000' I found a bear print in some old snow
After 90 minutes I reached the crest. The climb up is pretty but there are basically no views but this makes it more dramatic when you reach the crest. At the end of the climb you come around the corner and the whole Black Mountain crest is visible. The three following photos were take from the same spot looking southeast, south, and southwest respectively.
Here is the ridge covered in frost
The first half mile of trail on the crest continues to follow an old road and is pretty easy going. After that the road dies out and the trail starts to literally follow the crest. It is was very slow going from here on. Multiple times I had to use my hand to scramble up short vertical sections. Here is a particularly bad section.
Here is a view looking east from the crest
I turned around at Winter Star Mountain. It was 2 PM and the hike along the crest took more out of me than I thought it would. The trail had been recently cleared of brush so it was easy to follow but the maintenance stopped where I turned around and the trail just disappeared into the brush. I had a lot of fun up there and I would like to go back again finish the hike when I go back to NC in july. The entire hike I did is on Trails Illustrated map #779. If you go to http://www.natgeomaps.com/ti_779 you can look at a preview of the map and see the whole route.