Black Mountain Crest Trail (BMCT) is one of the most difficult hikes in the Eastern U.S. I’d been rehabbing a sore leg for half a year following foot surgery, when my friend invited me to join in this epic hike that would conquer several summits and accumulate over 6,000 feet of climbing over 12 miles. My first thought was, “Ulp, it’s been six months, am I ready for this?” Preferring to “think positive,” and hopeful my Achilles was healed proper, I cautiously asked for more info. about the trip.
Being an avid hiker, surgery had been my only option after a year of chronic pain and inability to train for a Grand Canyon trip with my kids. The more I learned about the Black Mountain Crest Trail, the more excited – and worried – I became. Descriptions about the trail are all pretty similar: grueling, challenging, not to be underestimated, extremely difficult. My friends jokingly likened the trail to “a little scramble.” Eeeks.
A few weeks ago, with packs loaded for an overnight with water, tents and food, we set out from Bowlens Creek trailhead for an immediate 3,000 foot ascent for three and a half miles up to Celo Knob. The challenge of this trail comes from a straightforward approach. You go up, relentlessly up, with very few switchbacks and little opportunity for recovery. From Celo Knob we rested and took in the view of the entire range, which ended at Mt. Mitchell at 6,684 feet, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. We covered Gibbs Mountain, Horse Rock, and Winter Star and then descended to Deep Gap to camp for the night. We were all ready to shed packs and rest for the evening after covering the first leg of the journey, about eight miles.
My leg held up all day under the weight of a full pack and perpetual climbing. With each step, I gave continual thanks for being able, again, to push to the top. There were many days following surgery when I wondered if the past strength was gone for good. Thankfulness came over me in an emotional, spiritual flood. I’ve always felt a sense of reverence out in the woods for our Creator, such majesty and beauty lies in the forests of our country. I prayed repeatedly, “Thank you, thank you thank you,” realizing not only that the foot had healed, but the procedure worked.
We were in sleeping bags by 8:00 p.m. and woke occasionally as the wind buffeted our tents. In the morning we started again uphill on the 900-foot climb out of Deep Gap to Potato Hill, then down and up to Cattail Peak, again to Balsam Cone, again to Mount Big Tom, then Mount Craig, and finally to Mount Mitchell. All in for day two, we figured four miles would keep us going until lunch; well it was more like a late lunch.
Completing this “little scramble” with men I respected before the trip and looking back on the year behind us, I wanted to commemorate our time together. I chose the perfect gift, our recent addition of personalized, micro-roasted coffee gifts at CrinkledNose.com. Our coffees made the perfect gift for our manly group of mountain men – a personal, robust, festive, CrinkledNose blend! Come a cold winter's morning, that's something we'll all be thankful for.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from CrinkledNose.com!