Hiking with the Asheville Citizen-Times

There is nothing in the world like a great hike.

We joined Jake Blood of the NC High Peaks Trail Association, local conservationists and the Asheville Citizen-Times staff to hike the beautiful Black Mountain Crest Trail, ending at Cattail Peak.

Jake Blood, of the High Peaks Trail Association in Burnsville, NC, shows conservationists and Asheville Citizen-Times’ staff a view from the Black Mountain Crest Trail.

Storytelling is integral to mountain heritage and culture. Part of understanding the magnitude of this hike is understanding how the surrounding area came to be. It starts with a man named Elisah Mitchell, a geologist,  who observed a peak in the Black Mountains he thought was higher than Grandfather Mountain. He was trying to prove that this peak, soon-to-be called Mount Mitchell, had a higher elevation.

Dr. Mitchell proved Mt. Mitchell was the highest peak east of the Mississippi

The story goes that Elisah Mitchell didn’t care for the woods at night. Unfortunately, he stayed out too late measuring Mt. Mitchell and in walking back in the dark, he fell to his death down Mitchell Falls. A man by the name of “Big Tom Wilson” was sent to find him and tracked his steps, finding ones that got shorter and shorter signifying Mitchell’s inability to see in front of him. Big Tom Wilson found his body at the foot of the falls.

Although the project claimed his life, Mitchell proved the height of Mt. Mitchell was even taller than Mount Washington in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

From left to right: Jake Blood, NC High Peaks Trail Association; Liz Kelleher, retired forester; Karen Chavez, Asheville Citizen-Times; Maddy Jones, Asheville Citizen-Times; and Justin Boner, The Conservation Fund.

We were part of the historic negotiations to purchase all 2,750 acres donated by the Conservation Fund to the state park. Fred and Alice Stanback provided the funds for the contribution made by the Conservation Fund to Mount Mitchell State Park. All ensuring a legacy for hikers and citizens to enjoy for years to come.

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