Park 3: Mount Mitchell/Pisgah National Forest/Linville Caverns part two


Mount Mitchell cloud cover

Clouds coming in over the mountains

Anyone that knows me, knows that I hate heights! I don’t know why I tested the limits of my sanity with this particular trip but I did. When we decided to go to Mount Mitchell I didn’t think much of it. I also didn’t do any research ahead of time to see exactly what we were going to be doing or how high the mountain was going to be. Big mistake!

Mount Mitchell is the highest peak on the East Coast. It is part of the Appalachian Mountain chain and I believe it is part of  a secion called the Black Mountains. The story that I was told, is that Mount Mitchell was named for Elisha Mitchell who spent his life researching this particular chain of mountains. He was determined to prove that the peak that we now know as Mount Mitchell was the highest peak on the east coast. He was hiking one day and as the sun was starting to set, hurried off of the mountain before dark.

Mount Mitchell Summit

summit of Mount Mitchell

He lost his footing and fell into Mitchell Falls where he hit his head and died. They found him days later and chose 8:19 as his time of death based on the time that his watch had stopped working. He is memorialized at the summit.

Getting to the summit of this mountain tried me emotionally. We drove instead of hiked because of the weather. I don’t know if hiking would have changed my experience but we’ll see since I plan on going back. No one told me about driving on foggy mountain roads and with it raining off and on I almost lost it! Twists and turns with no guard rail made me feel as though we were going to fall off and tumble to our deaths. I cried a little, held the door handle a lot and prayed the whole time. I was a wreck. When the fog would clear, I could see beautiful mountains, hills and valleys and I was in awe. A few feet down the road, the clouds would roll in and fast and the weather would change. I read later that the weather changes every 15 minutes on the mountain and we definitely experienced that.

By the time we got to the park ranger station I was done. I wanted to quit. I didn’t care that we only had 2 more miles left before we got to the top, I wanted to go home. I’m not a quitter though and what kind of example does that set for my kids. I don’t mind showing weakness in front of them because I want to teach them that behind weakness is great strength, so I sucked it up and we drove on. Once we got to the top, I was speechless. I didn’t know how high we were until I read the plaque that said 6,684 feet above sea level. The clouds and fog were thick and it was windy but you could see the tops of trees and it was quiet, very quiet. Standing there, it hits you that nothing is higher than you in that moment. Nothing. It really puts a lot into perspective. I’m way up here standing at a point where nothing is above you, nothing can be above you and yet you feel so small. Besides having my kids, it was the most amazing and humbling experience I’ve ever had.

The next day was our last day in the mountains, so I used my All Trails app to find something to do on the way home. We decided to go to Wiseman’s View. No one told me that was going to be a crazy drive either (I really need to start reading reviews of these places). The drive wasn’t bad but since there were recent rains, the roads were wet. We made it half way and decided it wasn’t worth the risk being stuck in the mud so we just got out the car and walked around. The boys stayed in the car at some points because we have hardheaded boys. They think they’re invincible and falling off of a mountian doesn’t seem to scare them. Lord help me! I walked around taking photos for a while and when I felt it was safe we let them and the puppy go exploring while I took photos. I couldn’t let them miss the opportunity to witness the views I was seeing, it wasn’t fair to them. Its funny because I was so scared for them but they said they were more scared of me falling. I was laying on some rocks to take some shots and they were nervous wrecks. At one point, my youngest says “mom please stop, I’m so scared you’re gonna fall.” Awe, they love me 🙂

Pisgah National FOr

Pisgah National Forest

Even thought I didn’t get to see Wiseman’s View, I did get some awesome shots. This trip was awesome and I think it’s going to be hard to top it. I still don’t know where I’m going for Park #4 but hopefully I learn something or have a great story to tell.

Nature never fails to provide the best stories. You’ll miss them if you stay inside.

 

Go outside, let nature be your nurturer and photograph it all!

Always

-J

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