One of the unique aspects of the NC mountains is that they are nearly impossible to hike without a trail. I've hiked in the Uwharries without a trail, but they are completely different.
Last time I was on top of Cold Mountain, I looked at the bowl stretching between Shining Rock and Cold Mtn, and wondered when was the last time anyone managed to bushwhack through there. Even bear hunter's dogs have a hard time!
"We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." - Ben Franklin