Sam Knob viewed from the Southwest on the flat Laurel trail
Snow and low temps have become fairly rare in my neck of the woods, so when the higher peaks picked up 4 inches and the forecast was for temps in the low teens, I squeezed in a little overnighter to the top of Sams Knob. I invited a friend Mr Nacho Libre for his 1st backpacking expereince. Since the Blue Ridge Parkway was closed the hike required a much longer but much more scenic approach than normal via the flat laurel trail.
boots > shoes in snow
Not until it was too late did I realize that Nacho was wearing low top soccer shoes in the snow and Mr Libre stepped in during a tricky stream crossing and really got soaked
Needless to say when we reached the top we took in a great sunset but then had to turn our attention to warming Mr Libres feet up. The temp fell to 15 F, Nacho enjoyed the tent and I bivyed under an incredible display of stars.
Camp Nacho Views Views
Morning saw temps above freezing and we followed bobcats tracks down the Mt. and back to our car on Hwy 215. The trail passes numerous waterfalls which are quite large considering the high elevation ( by eastern standards )
This is a neat area no doubt. Sam Knob has some pretty impressive slopes that rival more rugged ranges esp when viewed from the south and west. I am amazed at the amount of water and waterfalls in the area. We had 2 stream crossings that were tricky and they must have been at 5500 feet or higher ( it was high water) but these streams are not seasonal and the waterfalls are really impressive.
What's wrong with the Shinning Rock area:
1. The blue ridge parkway offers high elevation access and so the masses can and do make the relatively easy trek into the wilderness area.Summer time will offer all the solitude of Times Square.
2. The "wilderness" is tiny by Western standards and surrounded by busy, paved roads on all sides. Often one can hear Harleys from miles inside the wilderness.
What's right with the area:
1. Shinning Rock and Middle Prong are both very steep and rugged areas. Go offtrail away from the higher balds and you will see no one ( save a rare hunter in season)
2. Views are very nice for extended distances due to the balds.
3. In the Winter the parkway is often closed making access tougher = less crowds.
4. It is crowded and overused but beats the development surrounding it.
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