June 20, 2015
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”
Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service suffered extreme episodes of mental illness. “Prone to bouts of depression, Mather had discovered that time in the great outdoors served as a tonic to calm his nerves and revive his energy*.” There is a calm salve effect contained in the woods. It can be found in no building, no skyscraper, nor man-made object. It rejuvenates and eases the soul: the fresh growth of red spruce, the scattered green ferns, the mountain vistas for miles, the sound of the bird calling, the wind gales blowing the tree tops.
The Black Mountain Crest Trail is an astonishing trail. It is relentless in undulation, views and wildlife. George, Perry and I set out to hike from Mt. Mitchell to Deep Gap, just outside of the state park. The wind was blowing with ferocity at times, 20-35 miles per hour. The first summit of the day provided a wonderful view from Mt. Craig. The trail descends slightly and then ascends Big Tom; named for Tom Wilson, the Yancey County mountain man known for having discovered Elisha Mitchell’s body. After Big Tom are some class III rock scrambles with ropes in place. The next three peaks, Balsam Cone, Cattail Peak and Potato Hill provide awesome views of the Roans and Linville Gorge to the north and west. We descended to Deep Gap for lunch, and then headed back to the Mitchell parking lot. It was a great trip.
These woods are special.
Total mileage is 9 miles.