Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Being jolted to life by an alarm clock at 4am can be a cruel reality, but the reward of leaving work by 3pm is well worth it, especially when it's almost 70 and not a cloud in the sky. A couple of weeks ago while hiking in Greene County to Margarette Falls I decided to visit Viking Mountain, particularly the Camp Creek Bald and Blackstack Cliffs just off the Appalachian Trail at the summit of the mountain, one problem, the snow flurry at the base of the mountain was a blinding snow storm at the top...failure!

Today I traveled back to Viking Mountain and was surprised as I approached the summit to find a snow covered road yet again! I was mildly nervous but was determined to trudge on, I felt like a real loser when I encountered two females at the top parked in their Volkswagon Beetle. You can see the towering Blackstack Cliffs in the distance from the parking area and I had barely put my truck in park before I was out taking photos, here is the view from the parking area.

The beautiful Blackstack Cliffs

It's a short hike from the parking area to the top of the cliffs even though it looks far away. The trail follows an old jeep road across Camp Creek Bald and intersects the AT marked by the trademark white blazes. it's a short stroll through the woods before emerging at the spur trail marked with a wooden sign indicating your arrival at Blackstack. You are surrounded by shrubs and underbrush before emerging at the edge of the cliffs and it's a long way down but I would rate this as an even better view than that of McAfee Knob (the most photographed location on the AT) From here you can see virtually all of Greene County and then some, Roan Mountain is visible as well as Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina. take a peek...
looking toward the Tennessee side (Greene Co)

After taking in the views for a few minutes, I wanted to explore some and look for different angles for photos. At the intersection of the AT and the jeep road an old access road heads toward the base of Blackstack which was formerly the road that led to various chalets that were built there in the 70's. All that remains of these buildings today are the foundations but celebrities are rumored to have stayed here in their glory days, including Elvis! It also provided me an opportunity to view where I was just standing a few minutes earlier. I'm pretty sure a fall from there would kill me.
That tiny peak at the top of the photo, yes, I stood there.

I was thrilled with my hike thus far but I wanted a better shot of the entire cliffs from the base, I continued down the road but found that trees blocked almost every view I had. The road dead ended at a camp site but a faint trail continued on, I had time to kill so I continued on as well. My efforts were rewarded when I came to a clearing and could look up and see Blackstack in it's entirety. It's rare for me to feel small but standing at the base, I was small. I sat down and had a snack and a drink looking out over Greene County and wished that someone had actually came with me to appreciate it as much as me. The sun was starting to hang low in the sky and the moon had already appreared in the distance also. The 4am blues were starting to weigh on me, so I packed up and made my way out. The weather is forecast to be nice the next few days so I plan on being at a waterfall or mountain top sooner rather than later.
The base of Blackstack Cliffs

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