Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pisgah National Forest: Woody Ridge Trail to Celo Knob and Gibbs Mountains

With a day to myself, I decided to head into the Black Mountains of North Carolina to finish off the Black Mountain portion of my South Beyond 6,000 project. I had hiked the Black Mountain Crest Trail from Mount Mitchell to Celo Knob back in May. I was really tired by the time I reached Celo Knob though, and so I decided to save Gibbs Mountain for another day. That day was today.

I made the long drive from Greeneville through Mars Hill for the first time (looks like an interesting little town) and then along US-19 and  US-19E through Burnsville and over to the well-named Micaville.
mica
I turned south onto NC-80, and then turned onto Whiteoak Road for the short drive to the trailhead for the Woody Ridge Trail. The area at the trailhead seems to be a popular area for free camping, as there were several tents visible in the woods just off the road. I packed my gear, put on my boots, and hit the trail. The trail started off following an old road through the first colors of the fall.
changing leaves
Despite the fact that it was a road, the climb was pretty steep. Eventually I reached an area of rock outcropping
trail road
and from here on, the trail left the road bed and climbed very steeply.

I had read about the steepness of the trail, and so I was prepared for the worst. The ascent turned out to not be as bad as I had envisioned though. Still it was a strenuous climb. I slowly made my way up from the deciduous forest up through tunnels of rhododendron
rhododendron tunne;
and into the mixed forest with lots of spruce and fir. As I climbed I made my way up into the clouds and the water that had condensed on the trees rained down on me as the breeze picked up. As I made my way higher up the trail leveled off a bit and soon I was in the high meadow near the junction with the Black Mountain Crest Trail.
at top of Woody Ridge

I pulled the old GPS unit out of my pack at this point. I wanted to make sure I stood on the top of my intended peaks today. I fired up the GPS,
GPS
and then headed left onto the foggy BMCT.
foggy trail
I followed the BMCT until my GPS unit told me it did not make any sense to follow it any further. I found a faint path into the woods and started my short, but rough bushwhack to the summit of Gibbs Mountain. I stood on the summit for a bit and then bashed through more vegetation to make sure my high point was the actual summit. When I was convinced that it was, I headed back to it and took a "selfie" summit photo.
on Gibbs Mountain summit

After my summit photo, I bashed back down through vegetation to the Black Mountain Crest Trail which in clearing skies offered great views to the west.
tree and clearing clouds
mountains west
I made a right onto the trail
clearing fog
and followed it over to Horse Rock which is also known as Percy's Peak. From the official trail it was a short bushwhack up to the summit. There was even a really nice view of Celo Knob,
Celo Knob
my next objective, from near the apex. After a short break there, I bushwhacked back to the BMCT
clouds below
and turned right again for the last part of the day's peakbagging.

I had been up Celo Knob in May, but found information that there is a benchmark on the summit. Since I found no benchmark last time, I figured I would look again today. While I am sure I stood on the summit, I again found no benchmark. I took a photo there nonetheless
Celo summit
and then ate a snack before heading down to the Black Mountain Crest Trail
clouds over mountains
and over to the Woody Ridge Trail
Woody Ridge sign
for the steep decent back to the car. I actually feel that the decent was more difficult than the ascent on this steep and slippery trail. Anyway, after about an hour and a half of carefully making my way downhill I arrived back at the car ready for the drive home.                    

1 comment:

luksky said...

When my brother and I were hiking together once, he told me how he also thought that sometimes a decent was worse than an ascent, depending on the circumstances. It also uses different muscles to decent than it does to ascent.