After a drenching rain for the first few hours, weather conditions improved to mostly overcast on the ascent up Black Mountain. I had been slogging my way in the mud past dozens of mountain bikers participating in the Pisgah 111K race. Just as I wondered if I might bump into him, I spotted Charlie racing by.
|Water levels up along the South Mills|
One thing I looked forward to testing out on this hike was ~20-minute elevated barefoot "power rests" every 4 hours. I admit to once overlooking Beyond Backpacking, but was thrilled to discover that the Transylvania County Public Library has a copy. It's been a welcome recent addition on the nightstand.
|Squirrel Gap Trail|
|Pink Lady Slippers along Bradley Creek|
|Painted Trillium on Laurel Mountain|
|Dinnertime on the trail|
Past the Pisgah Inn around dinnertime, the showers resumed. I startled a bear cub along the trail, but didn't see an adult. I was thankful to get a chance to cook and eat my dinner of Bulgar wheat chili along the trail before the rain. Camp was both set up and broken down in the drizzle.
|Saturday evening camp along the MST|
|Sunday Morning along the MST|
After ~42 miles in 13 hours on Saturday, I faced another 38 miles on Sunday. Once again, it started out rainy, but temporarily cleared just in time for me to enjoy the views from the 6000+' balds. In addition to a plethora of wildflowers and songbirds, I spotted a coyote, a copperhead and hundreds of snails and newts along the trail. I ended up making it back to the house by 6 PM after 11.5 hours of hiking.
|Azaleas in bloom along MST|
|Descending Black Balsam|