2 days ago
The Black Mountains stand apart from any in Western North Carolina.
In many ways, they are far removed from the hustle and bustle of many of the other South Beyond Six Thousand Feet ranges. The dark, conical peaks from which the range gets its name run perpendicular to the Blue Ridge Parkway, creating a stark contrast with the rolling hills of the eastern crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
In other ways, they are similar to the developed and crowded peaks of the east that vacationing families know so well. The scenic drive up to the summit tower, the snack bar and restaurant on the tallest peak on the crest, Mount Mitchell.
Between the most remote peak, Celo Knob, and the most famous, Mount Mitchell, is my favorite walk in all of Western North Carolina. The Crest is a roller coaster ride of high elevation spruce and fir forest, short but steep bushwacks, seven six thousand foot peaks, and the most beautiful views in all of Western North Carolina.
Unfortunately, I would see very little of those views and this stunning trail. I headed out after work as the storm clouds rolled in, determined to bag few peaks in the daylight before I polished off the rest of the trail in the dark. In truth, I’d always dreaded hiking these peaks in the dark. The bushwacks are quite thick and I knew they’d be slower than usual while I searched for the summits in the small but steady beam of my headlamp.