May 16-17, 2015
I woke up at 6:30 in the morning at Deep Gap. I could see the sunlight starting to peer inside my tent. I unzipped my warm sleeping bag, leaving its confines to walk to the cliffside. To the east, over Linville Gorge, the dawn’s sunlight burst forth, its ringlets turning the sky an amazing pink. A serene peace came over me, and in that moment I knew why I hike. I knew why I would submit myself to trekking Black Mountain Crest Trail.
This trail is absolutely brutal, the hardest in North Carolina. The Crest undulates for 11.3 miles between 7 peaks above 6,000’. From the trailhead at Bowlens Creek to the first peak, it gains over 3,000’ of elevation in 3 ½ miles. I couldn’t ask for better companions than Perry and Joel; wonderful company and wonderful hikers. We started in relative sunshine, but at the last water source 3 miles into the hike, clouds loomed overhead. At Celo Knob we stopped at a dense copse of evergreens. On the forest floor, needles from seasons past littered and provided a safe, dry haven for us to put on our rain gear and eat lunch.
The rain soon dissipated and revealed the hike to the north and the mighty spine of the Crest. The mountains ahead were so powerful. Clouds rammed the east side, but could not surmount their summits, creating a white wall. To the west one could see for miles.
We summited Winter Star and made camp at Deep Gap. We found a great level area, full of grass and a fire pit behind a huge rock. We got dry and cooked dinner. I made a delicious concoction of Parmesan Zucchini with pasta and sausage. I cooked the zucchini and sausage with thyme sprinkled over it. With another pot I boiled two cups of water and cooked angel hair pasta. I then combined the two pots and sprinkled salt and pepper with some freshly grated parmesan.
I slept wonderfully. The wind blew throughout the night with just enough strength to create, as Perry said, “an ocean like sound.” The next day we broke camp at 8:30 am and over the next 4.7 miles summited Big Tom, Mt. Craig, and Mt. Mitchell. The terrain continued unabashed. Steep, slick rocks and roots, equally challenging climbs.
Every once in a while a person is able to experience a hike that they will share with their children one day. – chock-full of challenges, triumphs, laughter, gorgeous views and humility. This is one of those hikes.
Total mileage is 11.3 miles.