Family ties

January 30, 2008

About two years ago I hiked to the top of Mt. Kephart, one of the South Beyond 6000 peaks. My trip report remains one of the top posts of this blog, but it hadn’t generated a lot of comments.

Yesterday, a comment was posted there that surprised me. I don’t have any way to confirm it was really posted by the great granddaughter of Horace Kephart, but reading the pride and passion of her words tells me it must be her.

I thought I’d share her comments here.

Horace Kephart was my Great-Grandfather. Several years ago my younger sister and I hiked up Sweat Heifer Trail to Mt. Kephart….camped at Ice Water Springs. We have spent many days out on the trails over the years. One interesting hike was going to the campsites my great-grandfather spent time writing, living with the locals, etc. Many summers of our youth were spent in the Smokies….time spent learning about our Great-Grandfather through the eyes and words of his son, our Grandfather…George Kephart. My grandfather was immensely proud of all that his father accomplished. He was equally proud of all his mother accomplished. My legacy…immensely gifted and focused people who truly know what their “journey” in life was meant to be.

I am in my early 50’s now….the Smoky mountains continue to be a source of peace, contentment and a place where I truly feel at home (even though I do not live there!). When I visit, hike, walk the streets of Bryson City, I experience a sense of peace that I know only exists there.

For all of you who hike Mt. Kephart, think of the good works this most remarkable man accomplished. If only more of us had his vision, his determination, his quest for knowledte, his joy in writing….Enjoy your hike!


Coming up sevens

July 19, 2007

I’ve started to plan for the ultimate South Beyond 6000 peakbagging trip: Seven summits in one day.

It can be done by starting at Mt. Mitchell (6684 feet) and hiking a there-and-back route of nearly 14 miles along a string of peaks, going over Mt. Craig (6647 feet), Balsam Cone (6611 feet), Potato Hill (6475 feet), Winter Star Mountain (6212 feet), Gibbs Mountain (6224 feet), before ending on Celo Knob (6327 feet), then returning to Mt. Mitchell.

From the Carolina Mountain Club description:

All of these peaks are in a sequence on the Black Mountain Crest Trail, which begins at the Mt. Mitchell Parking Area, and ends with Celo Knob, the terminus, at 6.7 miles. A number of other peaks are also along the trail, though they are considered spurs of these six.

In other words, it shouldn’t be that difficult. Because you can get the summit of Mt. Mitchell by driving a spur road from the Blue Ridge Parkway, you’re starting at high elevation.

I’m planning to do this hike Saturday, but I wish I had thought of it sooner. I should have done this hike couple weeks ago.

How cool would it be to say I hiked 7 peaks on 07-07-07?

UPDATE: My plans have changed. I saw a bicycle that had my name on it, and…

Well, okay, it had Cervelo’s name on it, but I feel compelled to buy it anyway, so that’s what I will do instead. The hike will have to wait.

Rock and Roll Cataloochee-Koo

January 11, 2007

Rock and roll hoochie koo
Lordy mama light my fuse
Rock and roll hoochie koo
Truck on out and spread the news
Done got tired of paying dues
Said goodbye to all my blues
Lordy mama, light my fuse.
© 1970 by Derringer Music, Inc.

I couldn’t get that stupid song by Rick Derringer out of my head Saturday while my younger son and I hiked to Big Cataloochee Mountain in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

There’s a line in the song that starts out, “Getting higher all the time.” To be sure, the lyrics don’t have anything to do with hiking, but on Saturday, our hike was getting plenty higher all the time.

Big Cataloochee is one of the peaks of the South Beyond 6000. Finally, after not hiking a mountain on this list for more than 6 months, I was finally bagging another. But in the end, I think it bagged me.

We started at Mt. Sterling Gap, which is on the eastern edge of the park near the tiny community of Mt. Sterling, N.C. The gap is at an elevation of 3,888 feet. Big Cataloochee stands at 6,155 feet. Though that’s a difference of just 2,267 feet, the total elevation gain of the hike was 5,206 feet, with most of that coming in the first 2.3 miles.

Profile - Big Cataloochee Mountain

This was a hike that kicked my butt.

The last half mile to the peak was off trail and about 600 feet up. Deadfall, sticker bushes, and the steep terrain made getting to the top a challenge. But fortunately there was a trail of surveyors tape markers that helped lead us to the top.

By the time we finished the 16.3 mile hike we were both pretty beat, though I’m quite certain my 50-year-old body was feeling more beat than Landon’s 16-year-old body.


If you’re too young to remember Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo, or are old enough to remember and want to relive your youth, here’s a classic 1973 performance. But be careful. This is one of those songs that sticks in your brain in autorepeat mode.


June 20, 2006
Ferns on the approach to Blackstock Knob

Yesterday I had to travel to Marshall, N.C. to pay my debt to society. It seems that Madison County has very little means of support other than speed traps, so I can understand how the county leaders felt it was so important for me to travel there, rather than just mail a check.

So what better way to soothe the pain than to go hiking?

I headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway, where I intended to knock off two or three of the South Beyond 6000 peaks. But as I arrived it began to rain, so I chose a shorter hike, a 6.5 mile trip along the Mountains to Sea Trail to Blackstock Knob (elevation 6,330 feet).

Along the way in several spots there was an amazing abundance of ferns.

More photos here.

Tough way to get a two-fer

January 23, 2006

Third time’s a charm, I guess.

After a couple of missed chances, I finally was able to get up to Newfound Gap and hike the AT from there to Clingman’s Dome. That allowed me to bag two of the South Beyond 6000 peaks in one trip. The trail passes right over Mt. Collins on the way to Clingman’s Dome.

But I paid for it.

It’s been so warm this month, I figured most of the snow would be melted up there. And in many places it was.

But surprisingly, there were some parts of the trail still covered in 15 inches of snow.

It appears no one had hiked from Mt. Collins to Clingman’s Dome in at least 24 hours, maybe more. Because of that, the last three miles to Clingman’s Dome included several sections of post-holing through knee-deep, very wet snow.

That’s tough hiking, especially where the trail ascends to the summit.

It’s about eight miles one way to Clingman’s Dome. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was able to hike back by way of a paved road, I might still be on that trail.
To make matters worse, I was wearing a new pair of Montrail Hardrock shoes. Nice shoes, but I must of had them laced too tightly because my the end of the trip, my feet were very sore.

I’ll post a complete trail report later. Let me recover first.

I Kep♥ the Smokies

December 25, 2005

Yesterday was a good day all way around. I took the day off from work and went hiking.

And the weather was terrific.

I was able to knock off another peak from the South Beyond 6000 list with little effort. I hiked to Mt. Kephart in the Smokies, taking an easy route that’s mostly on the AT.

The only difficulty I encountered was knee-high snow on the short access trail. I had been the only person to hike that section in several days, it appears.

Well, actually I found tracks of a small critter on the trail, but they were of little help to me.

The rest of the route was well trod, as I expected it would be.

I’ll have a complete trip report with photos soon.

Oh, by the way, if your browser or RSS reader doesn’t display special characters, you may be wondering what’s up with the headline, “I Kep♥ the Smokies.” Some browsers recognize $hearts; as special characters and render them as a heart symbol.

Well hooray for the Bull Head

November 26, 2005

Okay, that’s an obscure title, I’ll admit.

Think about it and I’ll come back to it.

The point is, I completed my first South Beyond 6000 ascent today. I hiked to the top of Mt. LeConte, just as I had planned and despite the nine inches of snow.

The National Weather Service says the snow was down to eight inches deep today, but it wasn’t a problem for me until I hiked back down.

I went up the Bull Head Trail (hence the Bull Head reference in the title) and came down the Rainbow Falls Trail. The latter was more sheltered from the sun, so there was more snow and ice.

I think I skated more than I hiked down the first 1000 feet from top.

I’ll post a complete trip report soon.

So anyway, about that title. Here’s a hint: Citizen Kane.

Still too obscure?

Late in the film, Susan Alexander Kane (Dorothy Comingore) says “Well hooray for the Bull Dog.” I thought, well, oh never mind.

I said it was obscure. I didn’t claim it was clever.