Sun, Apr 8 2018 - Whiteside Mountain, Devils Courthouse and Scaly Mountain (View Original Event Details)|
What a super fun day and an outstanding group of hikers! When the carpoolers arrived at the Whiteside Mountain tralhead, our meet-at-eventers were ready and waiting for us, so we started right up the mountain. We had the trail essentially to ourselves, and only encountered a couple of slick icy spots on the wooden steps. As we gained elevation, we noticed the tree branches were coated in a thin layer of ice that sparkled like diamonds. As for the long-distance view, it was a whiteout so we didn't even stop at the viewing platform.
We proceeeded up to the sign marking the Continental Divide, and plunged down the rabbit hole towards the Devil's Courthouse. A bit of bushwhacking to avoid muddy patches, a lot of holding on to branches on the steep drops, and only two slight wrong turns by the TL (quickly corrected by the other TL, you can guess which was which) and we emerged onto the sheer rock face of the pluton that is the Devil's Courthouse. (Are guilty parties thrown off the edge? Is that where the name comes from? Who knows.) Anyway, the clouds had miraculously parted to reveal a stunning view of the surrounding landscape. After the obligatory oohing and ahhing and photos, we made the steep climb back out to civilization, and traced the dirt path back to our cars.
Now, on to the main course! We drove back through Highlands, parked at the overlook and crossed the street to the Bartram Trail. The fog was so heavy we could barely see the headlights of oncoming cars. But no matter, the close-up view was beautiful. Verdant moss and ferns of the brightest green lined the path. We hiked alongside a babbling brook and stepped aside for a family of four whose two kids gleefully careened down the path. A pair of Carolina chickadees flitted ahead. Near the summit of Scaly Mountain, we dropped our packs and ate our lunches. A rousing chorus of Happy Birthday to Ken was accompanied by delicious homemade brownies courtesy of Linda. A mix of clouds and sunshine provided a magical view.
Then it was onward again, down through the enchanted rhododendron forest to the Tessentee bottomlands and campground along the creek. With a promise to return someday overnight, we turned back to start the steady climb back up Scaly. Our cohesive group popped over the top of Scaly and back along the rocky trail, regrouping near the end to all finish together.