A "This and That" Weekend
In the middle of May my brother Jim, his son Dave and I made our annual weekend trip to the southern Appalachians. I chose to head back to Linville Gorge again this year as there were a few things I wanted to accomplish. If you asked me what we did on our short day and a half visit I would probaby respond "this and that". I already posted the trip report
for the scrambling Dave and I did on Hawksbill. This is a photo trip report of some of the other areas we visited that weekend. We hit a number of spots, several of which there isn't much if any information about them on SummitPost (but don't really justify posting separate pages). Hopefully some of this informatin will be helpful to anyone planning a vist to Linville Gorge.
It may not sound very exciting, but on this trip, more than anything else, I wanted to find the Ledge Trail. Last year, due to some poor planning and some really bad map reading on my part, I wound up on the Hawksbill Climber's Trail instead of Ledge, resulting in some nasty, unnecesary and unproductive bushwhacking. I hoped to redeem myself this year.
Ledge contours around the cliffs of Hawksbill and winds its way back to the road (and Ledge-Spence Connector). If you have any interest in completing a loop hike of the entire Gorge (which I do), and do so without hiking on any roads (which I would prefer), then finding Ledge is one of several trails that you will not find on the Forest Service map but will need to make yourself familiar with. (Thanks to all the Gorge Rats
over at www.linvillegorge.net
for all their help, supplying a lot of the necessary beta.)
Jim and Dave on the summit of Hawksbill
On our way down the pedestrian trail from the summit of Hawksbill I started looking for Ledge, which I knew was not too far from the summit and would veer off to the left (west).
This picture may not look like much, but it is the best info on how to locate Ledge. There is no trail sign pointing the way, and I counted at least four spur trails heading to the west from the pedestrial trail, so choosing the correct trail without any beta will be a SWAG. The green streak on the tree stump, and having to step up to the trail are your clues.
We didn't have a lot of time as I wanted to get over to Sitting Bear Mountain so we only hiked a short way down the trail. I was content just finding it.
We hit the Gorge at the righe time. The rhododendron were out in full force.
Cliffs of Hawksbill Mountain
Sitting Bear Mountain
After our short jaunt down Ledge we made our way back to the Jonas Ridge Trail and headed for Sitting Bear Mountain.
A rhododendron canopy on the Jonas Ridge Trail.
Coming from the south, once you get close to Sitting Bear, the trail has a reputation for being quite steep. And it is! There are two short steep stretches below the summit. I was very glad to be able to use the tree roots and trees themselves to help on both the ascent and descent.
Sitting Bear Rock is quite impressive and offers a number of technical climbing routes.
There are a number of spur trails at the summit that lead to great viewing spots.
Grandfather Mountain off in the distance.
On Sunday we took it pretty easy and decided to just be tourons. Originally I had planned on hiking down to Babel Tower and use the Cabin Trail to make a loop. But since we only had a few hours before needing to head home I decided something less strenuous would be a good idea. This was my brother's second trip to the Gorge and he still hadn't seen the river. What better place to see the river then at Linville Falls? After that we could stop over at Wiseman's View to take in some great views. A nice easy touron morning.
So after our second morning in a row eating breakfast in Burke County
we headed over to Linville Falls. There had been quite a bit of rain in the area recently so the flow from the falls was really good. Probably as fast as I've ever seen them flowing.
Dave and Jim at the Upper Falls
...with a little zoom...
At Wiseman's Dave and I were able to do a little exploring, while Jim stayed at the main viewing area enjoying the awesome views of the Gorge that you get from there.
Dave and I found a "trail" leading down in front of Wiseman's cliffs.
We also took an unimproved trail over to some cliffs, that offer a good view of Wiseman's.
Cliffs of Wiseman's View
Getting in one last good look before heading for home...