September 24-25, 2016
My favorite hiking challenge has been the South Beyond 6000. Sponsored by the CMC, one must hike 40 peaks over 6000 feet in North Carolina and Tennessee. I’ve hiked all the peaks in the Great Balsam area of North Carolina, except Mt. Hardy.
Mt. Hardy is located in the Middle Prong Wilderness. Designated by the federal government in 1984, the area is quite small.  The trails that do exist are strenuous and difficult to find/navigate.
My good friends, Josh and Johnny joined me for a weekend trip with a simple goal: hike 3 miles up the MST (trail #440) from Hwy 215, bushwhack up Mt. Hardy (elevation 6110’), camp on top of the mountain and return the next day 8 miles via the MST, Buckeye Gap Trail (trail #126) and Haywood Gap Trail to Sunburst Campground.
The summit of Hardy is not the clear meadow (where we camped) with the view of Black Balsam and Asheville; it is located several hundred feet later near a large rock.
The best part of the entire trip was the solitude. On a bustling weekend, with perfect weather, we saw two day hikers. It was a great time with great friends.
An added bonus of which I am extremely happy and thankful for was an early anniversary present from my wife. She gifted me a Suunto Traverse GPS watch. Never have I received such a nice present. With the GPS capabilities, I was able to navigate, check the altitude, temperature, and more.
Link to Johnny’s You Tube video of the trip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSSEKA7udYg&sns=em
Total mileage is 11.91 miles.