Mount Mitchell Trip Report
Summit Trail, 09/22/09
The kids weren't yet in school, I wasn't taking any classes during the fall 2009 semester, so we decided to take a fall roadtrip to my in-laws' house in western New York state. There are a number of highpointing opportunities between Texas and New York, but we opted to meeting some friends, the Mike and Amy Pilato family, atop Mount Mitchell, the highpoint of North Carolina.
It was a long drive from Austin to past Atlanta, including a few hours spent in heavy downpours, as well as experiencing the joys of Atlanta traffic at 10pm. The children were good for the most part, and I was ready to sleep when we found the Motel 6 outside of Commerce, Georgia. It was a short-lived sleep, however, since we had an early morning the next day to make it to Mount Mitchell.
Summer was in its last weeks in the deep South, as we drove up from Georgia, through South Carolina and into the Blue Ridge Mountains. Around Asheville, we picked up the Blue Ridge parkway, one of the most scenic roads in the country. After several miles, we found the turnoff for Mount Mitchell State Park, and then the restaurant, and our friends, the Pilatos.
After a nice lunch of North Carolina barbecue, we set out to climb to the top of Mount Mitchell. The park had recently been renovated, with the addition of a new lookout tower at the top of the summit. The hike was on a paved walkway, and while not very long, was a bit steep (especially while carrying a one-year-old Jonathan). The weather was quite variable, with clouds rolling over and and around the mountain. We never got a good view from the mountain, but the fog made for ever changing scenes. (Alas, my camera ate my pictures, so the ones accompanying this report are from our companions.)
We spent more time than planned on the hill, and it was around 2:30pm by the time we got in the car with the goal of making it all the way to New York that night. It took quite a while to get back to the interstate system, including an amazing, but long drive on highway 19W (think canopied roads, picturesque streams, and a feeling of wondering if the road isn't a dead end). By the time we hit West Virginia, the sun was setting, and I was struggling to stay awake while navigating the twisty mountain roads up to Pittsburgh. In Pittsburgh, we stopped for a few hours to rest, and finally arrived in New York around 7am.