Heading up Cold Mountain
We got started Saturday morning, driving from John's condo near Brevard over to the Big East Fork trailhead. We got started around 10:30am. The route we had selected going up over Old Butt Knob gets pretty steep pretty quickly, and had us all working pretty hard. The weather wasn't too cold considering it was January. The wind was blowing pretty hard, but for the most part the trail was pretty sheltered by trees and rhododenron, and it was really quite pleasant. A few of the overlooks were less sheltered, and you could really feel the wind there, though.
We got a very light amount of rain/snow/hail type precipitation, but not much. When we hit Deep Gap, we ran into two hikers who told us they had been informed that there were 3 inches of snow up on top of Cold Mountain. We found this hard to believe, but were excited for the snow, because the whole aim of this trip was to get some real cold weather camping experience in. Unfortunately, when we got to the top, it all turned out to be bogus, as there was no snow in sight. We settled in, made dinner, and camped out for the night, which was very windy, at times it sounded like the tents were going to come down.
We woke up in the morning to some amazing cloud formations. The clouds were laying very low, and we got some great views from up above the clouds.
We didn't have a very difficult hike ahead of us, so we spent a while in camp, and then a long time taking pictures from the summit. By the time we broke down camp and got on the trail, it was almost 11am. We got moving, and hiked down to the Boy Scout Camp, intending to then head back up onto the ridge and camp in the viscinity of Flower Gap. As we worked our way down to the Boy Scout Camp, it took a good bit longer than expected. When we finished lunch, we looked at the map a little more closely, and checked our altitude. It turns out we had a lot of altitude to gain back before we reached camp, and only about 2-3 hours to get up there. We set a pretty grueling pace up to the ridge (one of the risks when you hike with an ultra marathon runner and an Ironman triathlete). We reached camp just before it got dark, around 5pm.
Day 3 was just hiking back down to the car and heading home.
Round trip mileage for the weekend was about 23 miles, not sure of the total elevation gain/lost, but it was pretty significant.
All in all, a very fun weekend, and a good place to dial in the winter camping systems and get some training miles in, but not a terribly difficult peak :)