Celo Knob via Woody Ridge May 23, 2010Posted by Jenny in Black Mountains, hiking.
Tags: Black Mountain Crest, Celo Knob, Horse Rock, Woody Ridge
Unfortunately, my camera lens was fogged on almost all of today’s pictures. I promise to pay more attention to this in the future. In the meantime, just pretend that these photos represent a nostalgic, sentimental return to some place that was of deep emotional importance to me at some point in the distant past. Perhaps I strolled up this trail with some lover from the mists of time, and now I am returning to the scene with a broken heart. In reality, I have never been to this place before and I have no emotions attached to it whatsoever.
I seem to get conflicting information about the dimensions of this hike. After a certain amount of weighing and considering, and then just arbitrarily settling on some numbers, I declare that the climb of Woody Ridge to the Black Mountain Crest trail is 2.2 miles and 3100 vertical. I think we can all agree, though, that this is a pretty steep climb. I would say it is the steepest climb I’ve done on any maintained trail in the Southern Appalachians.
The stretch that gets you from 4200 to 5200 feet is especially steep. That climbing is probably done over about a third of a mile.
So I grunted and sweated my way along. I must say that this trail is a really good workout. I might try to figure out some way to do it once a month. It’s good for the calf muscles on this rather unusual steep section where you are not stepping up on rocks in staircase fashion, but rather just trudging up a daunting dirt slope where your feet stay at a steep angle. And on the way down, the quads take the punishment.
When I decided to do this hike, I really had very little information about it. Just knew it was a challenging climb up a ridge on the east side of the Black Mountain range. And, as it turned out, I paid the price for my ignorance of the details. I’d heard that you could climb to Horse Rock, 6200′, not a “true summit” (doubtless because of an “inadequate col”) but still an interesting point above 6000 feet with good views.
So, as I climbed the ridge, I passed some nice viewpoints above 5000 feet.
Finally I reached the junction with the Black Mountain Crest trail. My new digital altimeter told me I was at 6050′, and since I knew Horse Rock was 6200′, I figured I had a little more work to do. So I turned right on the crest trail and continued along for another 15 minutes or so. A large knob reared up in front of me, and I climbed it. I think I kind of realized as I climbed that I was not in fact ascending Horse Rock, but rather Celo Knob (6327′).
A clear herd path ran from a turn in the crest trail, so I followed it to a high point. At that point, a stronger herd path ran to the north. It was Celo Knob. I backtracked a short distance and found a nice viewpoint where I could have lunch.
I figured I’d find Horse Rock on the way back. But I never did. I looked for faint side trails, cairns, or flagging, but saw nothing. I think it must be quite obvious, but this was not my day for finding it. (Note added after looking at a better map: I should have just bushwhacked up to the top of the slight rise on the east of the trail.)
And so I began the strenuous descent of Woody Ridge. There was a nice little bit of Catawba rhododendron blooming just at a point where you had to do a little scramble. And there was nothing terribly noteworthy after that.