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Foggy morning on Green Knob July 13, 2011

Posted by Jenny in Black Mountains, hiking, Southern Appalachians.
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We never did see the tops of the Black Mountains

The other day I met up with my friend Gary and his son Zach for a hike up Green Knob. This is the mountain very close to the Blue Ridge Parkway, across the Toe River valley from the Black Mountains—not to be confused with the Green Knob that I mentioned in another recent post. That one is in the Middle Prong Wilderness.

This is the second time I’ve climbed the 2000 vertical feet from the Black Mountain campground to the Green Knob fire tower. This time, the tower was closed—you could go up the steps but you couldn’t get into the cab. Slightly disappointing, but in any case no view was to be had through the thick fog. As we approached the fire tower, we passed a couple who were resting just short of the tower. I thought it was odd that they hadn’t gone another few yards to the top before taking a rest break. As we sat under the tower, the couple walked up and greeted us. As a joke, I pointed toward roughly the spot that Mt. Mitchell would have been visible on a clear day. “There’s Mt. Mitchell,” I said.

The guy said, “That’s where we’re going.”

We were surprised. “You mean, you’re going to walk along the parkway and up the Mt. Mitchell road?”

He looked puzzled. “Well, if we keep going on this trail, won’t we get to Mt. Mitchell?”

Then we realized he had made a big mistake. “You’re on Green Knob,” I said, and showed him on the map. They had driven up the entrance road to the campground, stopped at the first trailhead parking area, and just headed up. It boggled my mind that they hadn’t noticed that they were on the wrong side of the river, hadn’t noticed that the trail sign said “Green Knob” instead of “Mt. Mitchell,” hadn’t realized that the sound of nearby traffic meant they were just about on top of the parkway. Well, I’ve made some pretty dumb mistakes myself when hiking, but maybe not quite that dumb!

Although it was not a day for views, it was a beautiful day for seeing interesting plants.

Turk's cap lily

Fly poison (Amianthium)

Sweet pepperbush (Clethra)

I love the way the upper part of the trail wends its way through what seemed like a temperate rainforest.

Heading down the trail

Ferns---ostrich ferns, maybe?

The rosebay rhododendron has been going strong for nearly a month now. I’ve featured it in several recent posts, and here it is again!

I just don't seem to get tired of looking at these...

Variation on the theme---with buds

Mushrooms (one of these days I'll make the effort to learn the varieties)

We came to a pair of oaks that formed a gateway on the path.

Zach and Gary

Zach and Jenny

Eventually, back down near the bottom, we intersected a trail that makes a long skinny loop up and down the South Toe River. We were enjoying ourselves, so we decided to prolong the outing by making the loop before returning to the parking area. It was warm and steamy down there, so when we reached the bridge over the river, Gary suggested that we cool our feet in the water.

The river was utterly beautiful

We wended our way back through the campground, marveling at the odd spectacle of women in long skirts playing volleyball, and at last concluded our hike. Then it was time to head into Burnsville for ice cream. The place advertised that it would make a shake out of any flavor of ice cream, so I requested a shake made out of mint chocolate chip. It was absolutely delicious!

Gary cools his heels---literally



1. kaslkaos - July 14, 2011

My dad was a mushroomer, European style, and inspired my own fascination. The red ones look like the aptly named Rosy Russula. But what’s underneath that cap would have to be gills for this to be true. http://www.mykoweb.com/CAF/species/Russula_sanguinea.html
As usual, enjoyed your hike vicariously.

2. Jenny - July 14, 2011

Thanks for the link! Now that I’ve gotten halfway decent with the flowers and trees, maybe I have enough space left in my brain to start learning mushrooms. The only one I really know for sure is the morel—and unfortunately I practically never see them!

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