Like many trails and points of interest, Mount Mitchell is along the Blue Ridge Parkway. You could, should you really not want to hike, park near the concession stand in the parking lot, grab a bottle of water and a Snickers Bar, and walk .2 miles up a sloped, paved sidewalk to the top.
That didn’t seem like much fun to me.
Old Mitchell Trail is listed as a strenuous 3 hour hike. However, the elevation gain is only 580 feet. Coming from California, that’s just a small hill. The entire area though sits at over 6000 feet. The description of it being more like the climate of Canada than the Southern Appalachian Mountains seemed accurate even though I’ve never been to Canada.
Upon arrival to the park office, I found only two other vehicles, so I was glad it wouldn’t be tourist-filled. Nor did I think it would be given that it was about twenty degrees cooler here than down below, and it was listed as a "strenuous" hike. There was a beautiful chilly breeze, and the air was filled with a fog that you could see the tiny droplets of mist dancing in the wind.
Tucker and I walked across the parking lot to the entrance of the trail and found this:
We emerged from the trail about half way up that aforementioned .2 paved pathway to the peak, I with muddy pants, hair askew half-tucked under a dirty hat, and covered in sweat, and both Tucker and me panting from the especially steep grade that was the final quarter mile. As I stood a moment to catch my breath, I heard a woman on the paved path say in an exasperated tone, “They said it was 300 yards, but not 300 yards straight up hill! Geez!” Then she came around the corner and saw me. In her mind, the vision of me probably proved her point, although she couldn’t work out why my pant legs were wet.
Tucker and I continued to the top where our muddy, delightful journey was rewarded with 360 degree views of the Appalachian Mountains.
Tucker, I hope I’m giving you that opportunity to really, truly live. Even if you have to put up with me taking pictures of you in all the super cool places our journey of life together takes us.