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Whiteside Mountain February 9, 2014

Posted by Jenny in hiking, nature, Southern Appalachians.
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View from top of a rock climber's trail.

View from top of a rock climber’s trail.

I did a short hike yesterday morning, going to visit a pluton in southern Jackson County, NC. Like Looking Glass Rock and others of our neighborhood plutons, it is a mecca for rock climbers. But I didn’t do any friction climbing—I just went up the “yak route.”

By the way, I haven’t done any rock climbing for years, but I do have a route on Looking Glass to my credit!

Helpful trail construction.

Helpful trail construction.

Nice icicles.

Nice icicles.



I had several unusual tree experiences on my trip. This was the first—I don’t believe I’ve ever seen these two kinds of pines next to each other. They belong to different environments.

White pine and pitch pine next to each other.

White pine and pitch pine next to each other.

The plutonic rock is sometimes called "Whiteside granite," but it's actually metamorphic gneiss.

The plutonic rock here is sometimes called “Whiteside granite,” but it’s actually metamorphic gneiss.

I know my friend James Locke will appreciate the above caption. He seems to think granite is found everywhere in these parts, which has led to friendly disputes.

More plutonic rock breaking through.

More plutonic rock breaking through on a neighboring mountain.

Whiteside is not quite a 5,000-footer.

Hand-carved elevation marker.

Hand-carved elevation marker.

Islands of vegetation on sheer rock.

Islands of vegetation on sheer rock.

I saw another of my unusual trees—a lone red spruce. I had heard that the Alarka spruce bog in the Cowee Mountains was the furthest south of any naturally occurring specimens in the East, and this lies south of that. Maybe the one on Whiteside was planted, but it seemed a bit odd—there was only one.

Nice bushy spruce. It needs a companion.

Nice bushy spruce. It needs a companion.

Additionally, I saw hemlocks of larger than sapling size that had no sign of the adelgid—always a pleasant surprise.

And finally, back down near the trailhead, I spotted an old, gnarly yellow birch that was practically hollow. But it was, amazingly, alive! You could see live branches at the top. (And no, I wasn’t confusing its branches with those of two young birches nearby.)

A survivor!

A survivor!


1. Yesterday Unhinged - February 9, 2014

The icicles are amazing. Being from the warm regions of California, I’ve never seen any in my life. Well, maybe a couple that were an inch or two long…but that doesn’t count.

Jenny - February 9, 2014

This has been an excellent season for icicles here—a very cold winter! You may have read the Sherlock Holmes story in which an icicle made the perfect murder weapon (melting after it was used to stab the victim).

2. Clyde - February 9, 2014

Jenny, when Cindy and I were coming out Peachtree Creek, we saw some small Hemlocks that didn’t show any signs of adelgids.

Jenny - February 9, 2014

I’ve seen small uninfested hemlocks in the Park, but none that looked more than 20 feet high (which is small for a Smokies hemlock!)

Clyde - February 9, 2014

These were in that category…less than 20′, I would not have noticed them but we stopped to look at something and I glanced at them and said…hey these aren’t infected.

3. Al - February 10, 2014

Great pictures as usual, a lil off topic but perchance did Don Casada send you a long 19 pager hike narrative and photos about his 2012 exploration of Bumgarner Branch ? Its an exact route I proposed for a Kephart hike to the SMHC last year. Have not heard back from them yet.

Jenny - February 10, 2014

No, I am in touch with Don occasionally, but I didn’t see that account about Bumgarner Branch.

4. Steve K. - February 10, 2014

Jenny….I always enjoy your hiking narratives and photos….thanks for sharing! I’ve never hiked Whiteside but do frequent Panthertown Valley. You should consider writing a hiking guide for our area.

norman - February 10, 2014

enjoyed very much.. never been in that part of the country… love the pictures and narratives….

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