Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Mt. Mitchell (..or how we spent our Labor Day weekend)

We started our trek out to the mountains for some fresh air and the chance to drop off the grid. We sure did pick an interesting time to do so, the announcement of John McCain's VP gave Mel and I plenty to speculate about for the entire weekend.

I should also say that iPhone + streaming Internet audio = one killer road trip combo. We were able to listen in to one of our favorite shows as it was playing in Seattle for nearly the entire trip. Kiera was just happy to be along for the ride. The camping trip had been Melanie's idea after I had been recanting fondly over my youth in Montana, and all the trouble my friends and I got into on our camping trips.

This was also a chance to test our new tent, which we had given to each other as our birthday gift this year. We had quite a bit of hassle getting our hands on the actual tent (had to go through three different vendors before it actually showed up on our doorstep, thanks MooseJaw!) But we couldn't have been happier with it, plus Mel landed a killer deal on it as well.

After staking out camp, I went out exploring while Melanie caught a quick nap. My short exploratory hike turned into a three mile mini-adventure. Lucky for me I had Keira with me. Part of the the adventure was I stumbled across the main trail we were planning on hiking up the next day. One of the reasons we picked Mt. Mitchell was due to the fact it is the highest peak east of the Mississippi. Since airfare was preventing our annual trip back west, we felt climbing up to a similar elevation would have to suffice. After I got back from my little walk about, we struck up the fire and cooked dinner and of course, smores!

The plan was to get an early start to the day, but it was a bit trickier to roll out of bed when things are so damn comfy. Eventually the demands of the day got us up and geared up for the challenge. By 10 AM, we headed for the trail head, ready for what awaited us. The hike was beautify, grueling, sweaty, and a ton of fun. It took about four hours and twenty minutes for us to climb 5.5 miles and close to 4000 vertical feet. The terrain was mixed from standard wooded paths, to tighter trails, and eventually rocky climbs near the summit.

Once we reached the top, it was time to take in the views and break for lunch. There was an observation tower being built at the top, but it was closed while construction was still on going. The climb down was easier, but not by much. Our decent took about 3.5 hours. All three of us, Melanie, Keira, and I, were exhausted by the time we reached camp again. The entire trip had taken just over eight hours, but despite muscle fatigue and a very very tired dog, its something I know we both would jump at to do again. Next time may be just a little less ambitious.

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