Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Snow Line Mtn Hike: The Story

My original plan was to drive from Charlotte to the top of Roseboro Rd. at the closed(due to winter conditions) Blue Ridge Parkway and then hike with the Zoo-Zoo north towards Grandfather Mountain. It has been awhile since I left the bike out of the plan and replaced that void with the dog and my boots. Once I turned into Wilson Creek the snow line started so I stopped, then easily shifted the 19 year old car into 4wd. Across the bridge on the snow covered dirt track of Edgemont Rd. all the way to Roseboro. Maybe 2 miles after I turned left onto Roseboro I crossed a narrow bridge and the fire road began to climb. I had ridden and drove this road many times before over the years but I have never seen it so locked in winter's grasp. On the second major switch back left pitching up the car started to bog down into the snow and crusty ice. I gave it more throttle, all four were spinning, sinking and sliding us down and left into the belly of the turn. Stop, back off before you slide all the way down and get stuck until April. I jumped out and looked at the awkward spot the truck was in. The only chance I had was to put it in reverse, gas it and hope for the best. Once I was backed out then I could do a two point turn and head back down. Unfortunately retreat was my only option because what I saw up ahead from where I was already stuck was even worse. It worked and I was able to get down the mountain back to Edgemont in a short span of time. I turned left on Edgemont and had a winter drive up to 221 a mile or so below the Parkway. The country side was brilliantly covered in snow and the folks who live in Edgemont proper seemed to be out of power but not fire wood.

The light indicates 4wd is functioning and the hubs are locked. I parked off the side of 221 and geared up for the walking part of the trip. Zoo and I headed alone North on the closed Parkway. The surface was amazing. There was 2-17 inches of snow covered in around about 2 inches of ice. The air temp at the start of our hike was in the high twenties. Upward towards the Linn Cove Viaduct every step seemed to count.
Zoo was having a blast being in her element.
Her Natural color pattern seemed to blend in quite well with the winter surroundings.
We trudged on and up. Well okay, I trudged, Zoo skated on the ice and broke through in some of the softer spots.
There were trees down laden with ice.

Once we crossed the first bridge before the Viaduct actually started Zoo and I found a little spur trail on the left. I noticed it because above that left hand tree line there was a rock pillar that rose maybe 2oo feet above us and looked accessible. I wanted to get up there because it looked like the view of Grandfather would be amazing. Up the little spur was difficult. There were heavy ice covered limbs blocking more than half the way up to the Linn Cove Trail. It was only about 15 meters up but it was steep, slippery and blocked with debris. Once we got to the trail with the rock out crop still ahead and above us I decided to go left first, it just felt right. After about 20 minute of moving debris and going forward the trail sharply began to descend. We were walking away from the rocks. Mein(German for My) Volk(Russian for Wolf) and I turned around and made it back to the spot we came in at and then headed up the trail to the right. Check out her camo.
Now we were headed in the right direction but the trail was just as difficult to move on.
Every turn we made there was more heavy limbs covered in ice blocking our passage. After about 40 minutes in this direction and not getting up high enough I decided to head back down to the Parkway and go north onto the Viaduct. In these tunnels the noise was strange when ever the wind picked up. Like wind chimes but mountain forest creepy. I would listen to the cacophony and then all of a sudden several limbs within 20 meters would snap loudly on top of the under noise. Every time the snapping sounded like it was being caused by a large animal that was running away from or towards us.
The sky was azure.
Look at this little piece of ice nestled in the Rhodo leaves.
Back on the closed road Volk and I walked to a spot where we found a marker indicating that we were at 4,535ft. Several hundred meters further on I found a spot in the sun to set up the tripod and start messing with the camera. We snacked on Clementines, dog treats and water from the pack. The wind blew and I could feel the density of the mountain.
I should have these turned around but I do not. This is a 200mm shot at F25 of the rock nodule seen below in the top left center at about 45mm.
We stayed at this spot for about 30 minutes enjoying the view and talking without saying anything about life as a human and a dog. Volk and I bonded, quality time quietly sharing minutes in a winter pastoral setting with no other humans around. Zoo loved burying her face in the crusty ice then sinking her head down into the snow like an arctic ostrich.
The hike down and out gave us different view of Grandfather. Way up there in the center you can see the swinging bridge that we were on as father and son years ago. The only way to access that bridge on this day would be straight up from here because the park was obviously closed.
I decided not to back track the series of fire roads to get home, instead I took 221 to Blowing Rock for the 321 and south. The problem was 221 was sketchy the whole entire way. At one point the US Forestry Service had us stopped while they cleaned the mess.


Anonymous said...

Bill, Awesome pics and words as always. A bit of W family history: The last time I saw my father alive we went to the viaduct to spread his fathers ashes.

Billy Fehr said...

Amazing Eric,
Of course, the power of the synchro is infinite.