On Sunday, me and Eugene made out annual pilgrimage to the Black Mountain Crest Trail (BMCT). We got up early and drove to Bowlens Creek. I got my thighs pumping quickly during the beginning of the hike up from Bowlens Creek as this is the steepest section.
This is the best time of the year to plan an out and back on the BMCT, and despite that the weather is always questionable. The first 6 miles of this trail is untamed, and I would consider it to be fairly technical and rugged. This is what brings me back every year. After hiking for almost two hours I encountered some fairly wet vegetation that was taller than me. This meant that although it was not raining I was as wet as could be. The temperature at the trailhead was 49 degrees which mean that it would have to be at least 5-10 degrees cooler at this point in the hike. I felt like I was frozen with the 15-20 mph winds started gusting from the North. Gloves at this point would be useless as they would also get wet and make my hands colder. I began to go numb in my fingertips, placing my hands in my pockets and rubbing them next to each other as to create friction. It was here that the urge to eat something came to me. I pulled over next to a large rock to protect myself from the wind, and pulled out a few power bars and my fleece vest. I put on the vest and when I tried to zip it, I noticed that my hands were not doing what my brain was telling them to do. I lost some dexterity in my hands and I could not zip up my vest, nor tear away the wrapper of the power bar. I struggled with this for the next 40-60 minutes until I could get a power bar into my system. I was cold.
The sun began to break thru the clouds and slowly I dried up a little and warmed up, and my hands came back to life.
Here is a description of the BMCT:
The BMCT is referred by many sources as "the most rugged trail of the South East". It is also the highest with twelve summits over 6,000 feet. The total elevation gain is 6,235 feet from Bowlens Creek to the summit of Mt. Mitchell and 2,540 feet in the opposite direction. The distance is 12 miles from start to finish. From the trail head in Bowlens Creek (elevation 3,075 ft), climb 3,085 ft on an old logging road to traverse Celo Knob (6,327 ft) at 6160 ft., taking a right at the fork. Turning left will lead you to the summit of Celo Know. Continue through Horse Rock (Percy's Peak, 6,212 ft), Gibbs Mountain (6,224 ft), no-name knob (6,160 ft) and three or four minor bumps over 6,000 ft to a gap (5,820 ft) under Winter Star (6212 ft). Turn right at the top and traverse Deer Mountain (6,160 ft, on the right), a sub peak of Winter Star. Go down to Deep Gap (5,720 ft) and pass Colbert Ridge Trail on the left just before the gap. Gain 755 ft on the climb to Potato Hill (6,475 ft). Continue through Cattail Peak (6,583 ft) and Balsam Cone (6,611 ft). Continue to Big Tom (6,581 ft), Mt. Craig (6,647 ft), to the shops, museum and then the summit of Mt. Mitchell (6,684 ft).
Needless to say, I don’t plan on running a PR in New York this weekend.
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