Character and teamwork are critical in almost every aspect of life…this past weekend in the Shining Rock Wilderness Area was a great test all around, and a lot of fun!
We started our trip at Big East Fork, west of Asheville NC with loaded packs and an excited team of young entrepreneurs. This is most of the student body right here, along with their faithful leader (me). It rained most of our drive up, but the sky looks pretty good at this point.
On the trail, we have about 5 miles to go, starting at an elevation of 3500 ft, going to nearly 6000. Most of it in the last two miles. Notice Bethany is sporting her new shock absorbing trekking poles and a new Osprey pack! A big improvement over the old one.
This trail is full of scenic waterfalls, undergrowth, large trees, and moss. A great place for picture taking as the trail follows the stream almost the entire way up the mountain. One caution, the trails out here are not marked so you do need a map and compass if you plan on hiking here. (It helps you know how to use them).
There is plenty of water as long as you have a means of purification. Once you leave the stream you’ll need to carry it. There is a small spring on top, but a pump is almost a requirement to get it into a bottle. Here is Jonathan filtering through an MSR ceramic filter.
And a few hours later, we are on top! Shining Rock has a great 360 views overlooking the Blue Ridge mountains, including Cold Mountain at 6030 ft. We attempted to day hike Cold Mountain on day 2, but didn’t quite make it with the little ones. The trails were overgrown with stinging nettles and lots of bee infested flowers, not to mention a significant altitude change and limited water supplies.
One great lesson we learned – when we finally reached our campsite on top, and prepared to eat, we discovered that our MSR stove pump was not working. The gasket in the fuel system had deteriorated and would not build up the pressure needed to move gas to the burner. Not sure what to do with our freeze dried meals we began to brainstorm. My 11 year old son produced two rubber bands he had brought just in case we needed them – and we were able to fabricate a make-shift gasket from them. This actually worked! Shortly after, we were eating hot lasagna! Who would have thought…?
Despite hot temperatures, steep climbs, and a downpour on the last day, it was a great trip. We learned all kinds of things about plants, stoves, teamwork, sharing, encouraging each other, and much more. We are hoping to head out again when the leaves are in full color.