Our group of hikers decided to climb North Carolina’s Mount Mitchell, the tallest mountain east of the Rockies in a three-day adventure. Following was recorded as it happened.
Monday Oct 12 – Staters stayed overnight halfway to N.C. while Jerry picked up Reed at his house at 6:00 am (in the morning), and Nick and Rick arrived to drive together. Stopped in Kentucky for Liquor Barn’s two bottles of Gordon’s and expensive St. George’s, a “uniquely Californian gin with real terroir made from 12 botanicals redolent of California’s might Mount Tam, juniper, Douglas fir, Cal Bay Laurel, fennel, coastal sage, Orris root, angelica root, and other profoundly aromatic botanical ingredients all come together to create a forest in your glass.” Tasted like pine cones, echh! Arrived Black Mountain campground, Briar Bottom section, Dogwood campsite 6:30 pm in time to set tents and have a happy hour with martinis with real martini glasses. Jerry proudly hung GMI flag beside Stater MSU flag. Rick, Nick, and Doc grilled Costco steaks, baked spuds, baked beans, and special onion-garlic-mushroom compost. Rick produced Trader Joe Grand Reserve Yountville Cabernet Sauvignon. Campfire discussion regarding upcoming UM-MSU game. Harbaugh and Dantonio are intense, and we would be in tents, too. Overnight rain made midnight bathroom runs most difficult. Did everyone put the food away?
Tuesday Oct 13 – Awoke to clear dawn, and French toast with Cajun bacon (yum). Rick’s blue tub mysteriously missing but soon discovered. What could have happened? It was 25 yards away in the brush without Tupperware and two dozen ginger snaps (oh, the loss), one bag of caramel corn, a box of raisins, and a bottle of Maalox. Could only be an overnight black bear now satiated but constipated. Hmm. Decision? Place food in vehicles and keep very large knives next to sleeping bags from now on. Nick and Rick have cots (can you believe it) so they will never be bothered by bears. Jerry, Jon, and Pat decided to climb 6684 ft. Mount Mitchell and be picked up at the top. Pat hit forehead on low branch, receiving “stinger” neck and dead arms, before dropping water bottle over cliff. Pasties for lunch on the mountain. Finally summited Mount Mitchell, exhausted, to discover parking lot full of cars and curious visitors. Back at base, Nick flew Quadra-copter-don’t-call-it-a-drone from campsite launching pad with overhead videos of surrounding mountains. Totally unflappable Stanley the Southern campground-keeper, that no one could understand, stopped to say hello and was amazed at the sight. We think. Hot free showers, woo hoo. Grilled Salmon with strawberry, pineapple, orange, lime juice/zest salsa, and Cline Old Vintage Zin and Raymond Hill Chard. Midnight hoot owl screeching (maybe bobcat) but no bears TG. Held knives closer. Sometime overnight, insane ghost chipmunk invaded Jerry’s truck bed and began eating a favorite wool sweater. Pat discovered something had invaded his van’s arm-rest cubbyhole and made a nest of seat fabric and twigs. What IS it with these crazy animals?
Wednesday Oct 14 – French toast and bacon breakfast before Jerry and Reed tackled Green Knob, while Nick, Rick, John, and Pat tackled Biltmore estate and early wine tasting. Another cocktail hour by a real campfire (friggin’ firewood more expensive than ever) before dinner of Rogers City smoked pork chops, stewed tomatoes, quartered potatoes, and Plum Mkt Russian Valley MacMurray 2013 Pinot Noir with lots of appreciated John belching. Overnight temps in mid-40’s made midnight runs a challenge.
Thursday Oct 15 – Pancake and Cajun bacon breakfast, before Lower Toe River group hike. Pat relates, the “critter” that shredded Jerry’s sweater and ate various foods in van came back to Michigan. The little bugger ate an apple Tuesday night. After multiple times to let him out (window open and doors open all day and night twice), finally got him on stick’em mouse trap w/ seed mix; a field mouse, not a chippy-munk.” Thursday’s 5-year-old freeze-dried chicken and rice lunch wasn’t bad. Relaxing afternoon with showers and doctored-Cincinnati chili (mit bacon) dinner and Sangiovese wine. Packing up for early departure, had a flawless black night and Milky Way casting shadows. Fell asleep laughing insanely about the seven cuss words. No bears, TG.
Friday Oct 16 – Awoke to dark cold and wind. Broke camp and departed 6:15 am. (in da morning). Stopped in Kentucky for lunch and discovered Pat’s and John’s van sides covered with multiple bear paw prints from trying to get in overnight. Inspected inside of van and other vehicles for lurking bears before proceeding. Good weather all week and great time had by all.