Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May 13 – Black Balsam Knob

Today we have cumulatively spent 2 years or 730 days in the RV since we bought it in April 2010.

The forecast called for clear blue skies and they were correct when we woke up this morning so it was a long distance viewpoint day.

We decided to hike to Black Balsam Knob via the Art Loeb Trail. You reach the trail head just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway and can look down onto the Graveyard Fields that we hiked earlier in the week.

The Knob is one of the highest points of land in the area at about 6200 feet above sea level.  Thankfully the trailhead is at 5800 feet so it was not that bad a climb and the top is less than a mile in.

I had intended to only go to the knob, return and do something else but as usual we got to the top, saw that the trail continued and said ”That looks interesting. Let’s at least go to there”. Repeat a couple of times. Altogether we did just under 4 miles but I must admit it seemed like a lot more and the GPS chart surprised me.


The Art Loeb trail is a long distance trail, of which we did a very small section. It is well used with evidence being the deep gully that is the trail.


You go into the trees for a short while.


Then you emerge above the tree line here, although I think the line was caused by a forest fire and not elevation. Below we are approaching the first ridge, which is not the top.


It was a bit hazy but you could still see a long way.


Lots of interesting swirls in the exposed rock.


Heading up to the next ridge. Still not the top.




Higher but again not the top.


In the picture below, the one over Jennie’s head is the top which we get to via the hill on the left side.



The last bit was kind of rough.


Looking back. I love this kind of hiking. Views everywhere.


The top.




By now it was only 11:30. Since the scenery was great we decided to continue on until we felt the need to turn back.

Onwards, along a ridge to the next bump.


We saw that the trail continued to that foreground peak, dead center in the picture below. Later we learned that it is called Tennant Mountain. It looked like a good lunch spot and turnaround point.


Down we go into the gap between the two peaks.


The down hill was very steep, narrow and rough with huge steps down that were tough for Jennie and me.


We were really glad to get back out in the open for the climb up Mount Tennant. Target in sight.


Partway up this section we came across a snake sunning itself on the trail. It startled us both so much that I forgot to take a picture before it retreated into the shadows.


A lot of people had the same idea.



But soon we had the place to ourselves. (We do shower!)


You can just see Jennie in the top right, below, with Black Balsam Knob in the left background.


Heading back down into the gap.


We really didn’t want to climb that nasty section of trail. At the bottom of the gap there was a junction with two other trails that seemed to go in the right direction. We picked the lower one. Luckily in a few minutes we met some guys coming up that said that using this one would take us a very long time to get back to the car. The middle one was the proper choice. It zigzagged up the hill instead of going straight up. So we backtracked and took it.

It was still pretty narrow with all the bushes scraping against us but the grade was much easier.


Back out in the open.


At the top of the knob, a guy had set up a tent for the night. I didn’t get a picture but I imagine it will be a great night to star gaze.

Heading back down.


Almost back. You can see the Blue Ridge Parkway snaking along down below us.


And what’s a day without a waterfall. On the way home we stopped at the roadside Looking Glass Falls. It almost seems like it is cheating to not to have to hike to it.


You could climb down some stairs to the bottom.


I didn’t stay long as Jennie was waiting in the car.

We are moving a short distance south tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Happy two year anniversary!!! That went by quickly didn't it? Love those swirls in the rocks!!!