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Trip report-Linville Gorge & Grandfather Mtn, NC

I tried to send my report as an attachment and it evidently didn't attach.
 Here it is again, and I apologize for the length.

Friday, Aug 30, ‘96
I met MtnTopper in Salem, VA; left Salem about 4:30 pm for NC.  Stopped at
campground on Blue Ridge Parkway for the night.

Saturday, Aug 31, ‘96
Arrived at the Linville Gorge Ranger’s Cabin at 12 Noon; stopped for maps.
 The Forest Svc Ranger told us the hike would be strenuous, trails are not
marked and sometimes disappear, and suggested we camp just off the road and
day hike down to the gorge.  “We’re backpackers, and carrying a pack is part
of the trip.” we told him.  He laughed and said we’d remember his words.  I
remembered them when I finally reached the end of the .7 mile access trail,
and shuddered to think this trail was rated “Easy” - the rest are rated

We climbed over and around slippery boulders and over terrain I would have
called “impassable”.   Mr. “Show-off MtnTopper” inched across a narrow ledge
of damp rock, holding on to little cracks in the rock wall by his
fingernails.  I opted for an easier route closer to the river which entailed
climbing over some very slippery rocks.  About 3 hrs later we took a long
break on some rocks by a waterfall.  Great photo op!  

The trail was nonexistent in many places and we had to bushwhack over
treacherous ground to find it again.  We had been warned!  Found a campsite
close to the river at 6:30 pm.  By this time I was cut and bruised. To make
matters worse, while returning from a middle-of-the-night trip outside my
tent I tripped over a tree root and went face first into dirt and rocks,
giving me cuts under my eye and on my nose.  Left camp at 9 am.

Sunday, Sep 1, ‘96
Hiked for about half an hr and came to a beautiful spot near a waterfall.
 Stopped for pictures.  Decided to take a side trail back up to the road.  We
couldn’t tell from the map which side trail it was - turned out to be the
Cabin trail and it was steep and rocky.  We came to a huge rock, at least 6
ft high with a couple of 1/2” ledges for footing.  I couldn’t make it with my
pack and took it off to shove it up on the rocks ahead of me.  It weighed
about 40# and was a struggle, but I finally got it over the edge.  I got
myself up easily and went to pick up the pack when my fuel bottle fell out
and rolled over the edge of the rock.  I had to go back down (more difficult
than climbing up).  The rest of the trail to the road was extremely steep and
strenuous.  Arrived about 12 Noon.  It was hard to believe that we had
covered only about 1-1/2 miles in the Gorge!  The Ranger had said we’d be
lucky to go 1/2 mile an hour!  We were off trail much of  the time, and it
took much longer.

We planned to go to Grandfather Mtn to camp for the evening; stopped at a
nearby restaurant for lunch and when we got about 2 miles down the road,
discovered a flat tire.  We had to drive all the way past Grandfather Mtn to
Banner Elk, NC to get the tire fixed.  By that time it was after 5 pm so we
found a campsite back on the Blue Ridge Pkwy.

Monday, Sep 2, ‘96
Left the campground at 8 am and got our camping permits for Grandfather Mtn.
 Took the Profile Trail, a strenuous and steep trail (I think all of NC is
strenuous and steep!).  This trail has a viewing point of the Grandfather’s
profile, and MtnTopper had a wonderful spot to photograph the old man.  

It started to drizzle when we got close to Calloway Peak (highest point on
the mtn), so we stopped and set up our tents at the Cliffside camping spot.
 It was definitely cooler on the mtn.  Ate lunch and agreed to hike to the
Swinging Bridge.  Along the way the rain got a little harder and we came to a
boulder flow that made my heart sink.  I didn’t think I could climb it much
less descend it on the way back, but I did both.  By the time we passed
Alpine Meadow and approached another boulder flow the rain and fog told us to
stop and try it again another time.  We got back to the campsite and hit our
tents for refuge from the rain.

I had brought fixings for some dynamite chili.  We ran into a hiker from
Florida in the Smokies in April who was cooking the stuff and gave us the
recipe; it was delicious and we quickly went from cold, shivering hikers to
warm and well-fed.  I’d be happy to share the directions for making this
chili, but I feel really bad that I don’t know the guy’s name to give him
credit for it.

We had time for a quick hike to an overlook after supper, but the entire mtn
was socked in by the fog.  By the time we returned we had to hit the tents
again because of rain.  It rained all night and the next morning we carried
all our wet, heavy gear back down the mtn.  The rain continued, so we decided
to call it quits.  Drove back up the BR Pkwy, stopping here and there to take
pictures of old log cabins.  We must have been a sight.  I held a towel
stretched out over MtnTopper, his tripod & camera, to keep the rain off the
equipment, and he looked  like an old time photographer under a drape!  Even
though this hike was much more difficult than we thought it would be and the
weather didn't cooperate the last day or so, I still had a great time, saw
some beautiful views, and surprised myself at what I could endure!

Marty (Gypsy)