Friday, December 20, 2013

Little Pisgah

It might seem as if there are a never ending series of trails and wild areas to explore in Western North Carolina but the reality is that the number is actually quite finite and humankind continues to encroach evermore on the once natural world. Luckily there are groups like the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy who are working to protect our natural spaces.

Last Sunday Yuri, Duma and I used the Florence Nature Preserve as the start of a route to the top of Little Pisgah Mountain. The trails in this 600 acre parcel of land were excellent. The initial trail appeared to be recently built, perhaps even machine built, but had been finished using natural materials and had the feeling of a much older trail. Along the way there were interesting historical sites and remnants that complimented the natural scenery.For late fall the forest seemed extraordinarily lush and verdant. A light dusting of snow on the ground and flurries in the air provided a nice contrast to the greens and grays of the coming winter.

We followed our way up through the preserve and onto a road which we assumed was Little Pisgah Rd. which would take us to the top of the mountain. The road twisted and turned enough that a few times I had to wonder but eventually the woods opened up into a bald, high gap.

There were two peaks - one to the North and one to the South. The North one was half covered in ice and the South one was half hidden in clouds. The South one looked higher so it was there that we headed.

As we made our way up the final few hundred feet along the summit ridge the climate changed. Much like I've experienced before this fall,  after crossing a certain elevation things changed and what had been temperatures in the 30's with light snow flurries was suddenly temperatures in the teens with a 60mph head wind and frost everywhere. The wind ripped right through all our layers and I developed an ice cream headache as we pushed on up to the top.

This wasn't the type of day to be lingering on the summit so just a few quick pics and then turn and burn back down the mountain. Within just a few minutes we were back down to the gap where the weather was normal again. From there it was back down the road and back into the Florence Preserve. We took a few different trails than the ones we had on the way up and checked out more of what the preserve has to offer, which is a lot!

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