AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME. I like the Gorge, can you tell?
Left the house with a tiny crew consisting of Zod, Liddle Riddle and me at 0830 today. Did the mandatory eat-in at Denny's just outside of Morganton. After the grubfest, we headed toward the home of the nastiest terrain around. Weather forecast was dicey at best with a chance of snow/rain/sleet all day long and a high in the low 30's. Didn't skeer us none! As we wind thru the Lake James community, two doe deer tried to attack my truck. It was a scene out of a movie. They jump out of somebody's yard and sprinted almost into the driver side door of my pick-up. I nearly grazed the one in the lead. As we make our way to the Pinch-In trailhead parking area, we notice a LOT of ice and snow on the road. Temp at time of arrival was hovering around 30 and the skies were ominous looking. LOVELY Gorge weather - I wouldn't expect any less for a December day. The proposed route for today is one Zod and I had done before some months back: Rock Jock - Conley - L'ville trail - to the easiest ascent ever Pinch-in trail [/sarcasm]. It was Dylan's aka Liddle Riddle first ever trip to the Gorge and he's a sophomore at ASU and an avid hiker - HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN???
Rock Jock was ever so tricky with the snow and ice cover. We also had to do a significant bush whack on RJ b/c a sizable tree had fallen in-line with the trail. To add to the flavor, the bear tracks were all over the trail. I saw the biggest set of bear tracks ever and I really thought we'd have a run-in, no doubt. The further down into the gorge we got, the warmer the temps got and the muddier the trail got. By the time we got to the water, my boots were loaded up pretty good. We took at break by the river and had lunch. From there, we proceeded South on the Linville Trail to hit up Pinch-in.
The hike up Pinch-In was the toughest ever. It was very slick all the way up. Getting footing was very hard and if I hadn't had trekking poles, it would have been a bad day. Dylan has never used trekking poles and he relied on a stick he found at the bottom of the climb. We were all sucking wind by the time we got to the rock overlook midway up. It was starting to get dark so we kicked it in and got to the truck around 1730. Everyone was beat. We chatted with some hunters in the parking area and then hit the road.
All-in-all, the Gorge delivers. I can't get enough of the place. Check out the pics and let me know what you think.
Zod and Dylan
Dylan thinks he can boulder
ULA Ohm - best pack ever!
dylan coming back from a bear dog rescue
sun hitting the eastern side