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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Cold Mountain, Shining Rock Wilderness, NC

Panoramic view from Cold Mountain

May 3, 2014

Cold Mountain was our first hike after a 14 hour drive into North Carolina. After sleeping for four hours, we drove an hour to the trail head at Camp Daniel Boone. This camp is owned by Boy Scouts of America so hikers should call and ask for permission to park at the trailhead. Once we parked our car, we grabbed our trekking poles and packs. We each packed 3L of water, 2 Powerades, rice cakes with beef jerky, almonds with dried cranberries, and Snickers bars. To get to Cold Mountain, we had to hike on the Art Loeb Trail until Deep Gap, then take a spur trail to the summit.

The start of the hike was immediately steep and this foreshadowed the rest of our day. The trail by the boy scouts camp was littered with dried leaves, covering up thick mud and rocks, making for a cautious start. After hiking about a mile up, we came to a T intersection. To our right, someone graciously made an X out of logs to signal that we had to take a left. The left route rounded us around the mountainside, giving us a glimpse of Deep Gap and Cold Mountain. The trail was now mainly rocky, marked by white blazes, and had about 5 stream crossings until we reached Deep Gap. 

Others have stated that the hike would be steep and this they did not exaggerate. The last half mile to Deep Gap was straight up and a wave of relief washed over me when we reached it. However, that relief was short lived when I realized that we still had a steeper one mile 1000 ft ascent to the summit. From Deep Gap, we went left. The trail to Cold Mountain was not maintained though it was well worn and easy to figure out. It cut straight up through shrubs shrouding the trail then leveled out, having us hike along the edge of Cold Mountain. The trail then cut right and we came upon a campsite. With wood still smoldering, we knew we would encounter hikers on the summit. 

We continued upwards and hiked through thick shrubbery to finally reach the summit in 3 hours. The 5.3 miles up was worth it but we only stayed on the summit for a few minutes as there were about a dozen people who had slept overnight and hiked up in the morning. A spur trail that was about 100 ft from the summit provided 180 degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and that was where we spent a couple more minutes taking it all in. We then spent the next 3.5 hours descending to the trailhead where our feet and ankles took a beating. With blistered feet and rushing to make it back to town to pick up a rental car, I hastily crossed a creek, taking a nasty fall which gave me bloody elbows and a pulled shoulder muscle. 10 years after reading and seeing the movie, I finally summitted Cold Mountain, making it my first Eastern 6'er. 

Trail to Cold Mountain, take Art Loeb Trail then take spur trail to summit

Parking near trailhead

Information at trailhead to Cold Mountain

Steep start to the hike

M on Art Loeb Trail to Cold Mountain

M on Art Loeb Trail to Cold Mountain

X, signalling us to go left on Art Loeb Trail

Left from X on Art Loeb Trail

Change in foliage on Art Loeb Trail

Set of stairs going down, Art Loeb Trail

Art Loeb Trail was very rocky

One of the 5 stream crossings to Cold Mountain

M examining a felled tree on Art Loeb Trail

Cold Mountain on the left, Deep Gap in the middle

Art Loeb Trail to Cold Mountain

Steep uphill hike to Deep Gap

Still steep, still going up to Deep Gap

Deep Gap! Go left to continue to Cold Mountain

Heading on an unmaintained trail to Cold Mountain from Deep Gap

Uphill through more shrubs

Part of the 1000 ft ascent to Cold Mountain

Nice water source on the way up

Hiking below Cold Mountain

Trail continues to ascend

Campsite near summit

Continue to steep trail through shrubs to get to the summit

Summit is almost in sight!

GIS marker for Cold Mountain

View from Cold Mountain summit...

180 degree panoramic view from spur trail near Cold Mountain summit

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