Sun, Oct 31 2004 - Halloween sunset hike to Blood Mountain (View Original Event Details)

Trip Leader(s): Steven Koonce
Participants:Caitlin Stark, Jim K, Allison Barth, Michael Boni, Mary Joyce Bacon, Gillian Genricb, Melanie Heard, Emily Boness, Colleen Grierson, Patrick, Steven Koonce

Write Up:
It was an unusually warm late October as everyone gathered at the Mansell Park and Ride Sunday afternoon at about 2:00 PM. We carpooled up to Neels Gap, briefly stopping at Walasi-Yi Inn along US Highway 19 before going to the Bryon Reece Memorial parking area. For those not familiar with the area, the Appalachian Trial actually crosses highway 19 and goes through the Walasi-Yi Inn. The Inn is a little over 30 miles into the Appalachian Trial and is the first place thru hikers can get supplies. You can park at the Inn however it you wish to hike you must go up 0.4 the road to the parking area.

After we parked and put on our hiking shoes it was about 4:00 PM., We then walked along the highway for 0.4 miles to go back to Inn and the intersection of the Appalachian Trial. Here we started the hike, following the white blazes as we climbed up Blood Mountain. The weather still great with only a few clouds in the sky and warm enough where no one needed a jacket. It was pretty much all uphill and we saw many people hiking down.

Sunset was at 5:45 PM that day and everyone reached the top at least 15 minutes before. There were only a couple of others up there so we were able to have our own area. At the top of Blood Mountain we checked out the trail shelter, which is a good place to go if you enjoy sleeping with rats. There are many large boulders at the top; a little like Stone Mountain. We claimed an area for our group and ate whatever people brought for supper. The vista was great and if we had someone who was good with maps and directions we could have identified at some of the towns in the valley. Again it was very warm for the season and most people did not even need to put on their jackets.

As the pictures show, sunset was awesome. A few minutes after the official sunset, everybody gathered up their gear and found their flashlights. We must have had a lot of people who either liked to hike in the dark or buy gadgets from REI as most people had the coal miner type headlamps. There was still a little light when we started down. This helped us find the actual trial down. It was no less rocky on the way and fortunately everyone was able to maintain his or her footing. I hiked this one week later in the daylight, and thought to myself I must have been crazy to try to it in the dark.

Another bonus was that moon had not risen yet. After it was dark we found a clearing and turned off our flashlights. Our resident astronomer Michael Boni said we needed about 5 minutes for our eyes to adjust. With the clear skies, no city lights and no moon we where able to see many, many more stars than normal. But this was not Michael’s star gazing trip and we resumed our hike after about ten minutes of darkness.

Instead of taking the Appalachian trial all the way to the main highway, we took the Bryon Reece Memorial Trail, which was about one mile down from the top. This trial went straight to the parking area so we did not have to walk along the highway in the dark. We finished just a little after 7 PM. Overall we hiked about 5 miles and ascended and descended a little over 1300 ft.
Written By: Steven Koonce
Photos From: Steven Koonce