Friday, January 1, 2010

Kitsuma Peak

Kitsuma Peak – 12/6/09 – Youngs Ridge Trail/Kitsuma Peak Trail/Point Lookout Trail – 10.1 Miles

The Berg Wanderers and the Carolina Mountain Club sponsored a joint hike to Kitsuma Peak. Danny Bernstein led the hike using her route from her book, “Hiking North Carolina's Blue Ridge Heritage". The dubious weather forecast caused several folks to drop out and as a result they missed a fine day of hiking. As my friend Mike often says, “Don’t let the weatherman tell you what to do!”

Outside of my Smokies element, I am just a follower. Everything I could tell you about this hike is found in Danny’s book, so to avoid plagiarizing I’ll keep it very short and let the pictures do the talking.

The hike begins in the Old Fort section of the Pisgah National Forest. Youngs Ridge Trail is a steady, moderate uphill climb, great for warming up.

Like ants we crawled up the mountain. CMC does this hike only in the wintertime – for the views, of course.


Ribbon of I-40

I love bare tree limbs and mountains in the background

We eventually dipped down to within spitting distance of I-40, with nothing between us but a guard rail and a wire fence. From here we walked on the secondary road to Point Lookout Trail. The latter half of the hike consisted of Point Lookout Trail, recently repaved, making it a road walk, not one of my favorite things, but the history of this section of the hike is what is important. The Southern Railroad tracks run in and out of tunnels through the mountains. Many man-hours (and deaths) were part of this incredible feat of bringing the world to the mountains.

Point Lookout itself was once a tourist stop on this old road overlooking Royal Gap. It’s hard to imagine the general store once perched on the steep hillside. The benches and flagpole (lighted by solar power at night) was recently installed as a Boy Scout Eagle project. The view down into Royal Gorge From here the road wound gently down the mountain, an excellent training road for cyclists, no worries about traffic.

Near the end of our hike we passed into a rural commun- ity complete with a little white church and cemetery and these curious fellows looking for a handout.

We took a quick side trip to Andrews Geyser, a manmade monument to honor a railroad exec in the 1880’s. Read all about it in Danny’s book! After these adventures our group split up and headed home. My plans were to stay at the Bernsteins’ home for a couple of days so that Danny and I could log some miles on the MST. With plenty of time still left in the day, she and I visited the Grove Park Inn (I had never been inside) and wandered the labyrinth of the high life in our hiking boots, admiring the view and the gingerbread house display – a novel way to end the day.

Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine. ~Anthony J. D'Angelo

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