Yesterday we hiked in Montreat near Black Mountain, North Carolina with Upstate Hiking. I had planned to do a loop hike covering the lower half of the trail system but it turns out this was too ambitious an undertaking.
We parked at the Lake Susan parking lot and after a brief wait started down the road towards the Stomping Knob trailhead. I knew this was going to be a difficult up but was somewhat unprepared for how steep it actually was. Most of the up here was also accompanied by humid heat making this an unusually difficult climb. That being said, our group did well (albeit with a few stops here and there to rehydrate and rest) and made the turn onto the Big Piney Ridge Trail. There were no views on this trail but it was all very green and shaded.
At the junction of the Big Piney Ridge Trail we ran into a swam of yellow jackets. A number of us were bitten (I am still nursing my bite) but no major allergy attacks among the group. We ran into another hiker on the trail who offered us some of her essential oil called “Purification” and several people tried it. One person said the swelling went down but he was still having some pain. I did not try it. Maybe I should have! Oh well. Thanks to ‘Iceman’ for the ice cube he so kindly offered me. He earned his trail name yesterday. Here’s a link in case you want to take a look at it. I’m not promoting it as I’ve never tried it but I’m interested in knowing whether it really works for bug bites (especially yellow jackets) since the sweep always seems to get bitten.
We continued on down the trail to have lunch on Rattlesnake Rock with a nice view towards Black Mountain. This was a well deserved rest before we started a very steep downhill towards the trailhead. Once we reached the road, we headed towards the Rocky Head Trail. We did find the trailhead which is in the campground. There were some very nice restrooms there, which we took advantage of.
At that point, Tim and I had a discussion about our timing and we decided that we would need to shortcut the hike and head over to the trailhead up to Lookout Mountain. This was another steep hike up to some nice southern views of the area. There is a great parking lot at the trailhead and I will keep that in mind for our next foray into the area.
On the way back from Lookout Mountain, one of our members almost stepped on a rattlesnake in front of someone’s home. It was just doing what snakes do which is meander along. Fortunately she saw it in time! But much picture taking went on. The snake was not aggressive. I personally have no desire to get close to a rattler so I just kept going but this was a first for some of our members. This was the second rattler we’ve seen this summer. Both snakes were small but still nothing to mess with!
Our day ended with a nice supper at a local pub in Black Mountain and ice cream after. Some of the group had been talking about ice cream as early as the Lookout Mountain trail. I on the other hand was dreaming of a nice cool dip in Lake Susan but I did not think any swimming was allowed there.
So it goes. I am still very interested in hiking to the Rattlesnake Mountain overlook which is past Lookout Mountain. It is not technically in Montreat but I believe there is a trailhead that connects to it. I’d also like to try the Rocky Head Trail someday which I understand is an up as well. Another hike for another day!!
No photos today but if someone posts them on Upstate’s site, I will add a link here.
FYI here’s the link to Montreat’s hiking map: http://www.montreat.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/TrailDescriptionsLegal.pdf