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Ascent of Old Black on 2011-09-10

Climber: Dennis Stewart

Date:Saturday, September 10, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Old Black
    Location:USA-North Carolina/Tennessee
    Elevation:6370 ft / 1941 m

Ascent Trip Report

As far as I can determine, Old Black is the 9th highest named highpoint in Tennessee and the 17th highest named summit point in North Carolina. Some lists place Hallback Mountain (or Mount Hallback) as 17th highest instead, but there is a sign on Hallback with an elevation of 6391 feet. This would place it 21 feet higher than Old Black. My goal for this climb was to reach the summits of Old Black, Mount Guyot and Mount Chapman in a single day's climb. Unfortunately, when I reached Cosby Campground I discovered the road I had hoped to take to reach the trailhead was gated. To make matters worse, no parking was allowed at the gate for hikers, so I had to drive about 1/2 mile away and quite a bit lower in elevation to a "Hikers Parking" area. My trailhead search and extra climbing required more time than I could makeup and I had to settle for Old Black alone. To lessen my disappointment for missing the other two peaks, I peakbagged Inadu Knob and Snake Den Mountain on my return. The climb from Cosby Campground to the AT is on a good trail (Snake Den Ridge Trail), but there is an elevation gain of nearly 4000 feet, so it is not an easy peak to bag. In addition, the closest I was able to get to the summit of Old Black on the AT was about 250 feet on the north side of the mountain. It was an extremely difficult bushwhack through a dense tangle of shrubs to reach the highpoint. It took me nearly 30 minutes to cover that short distance. Earlier I had found my first bear track ever in the wild. It was quite exciting! So I had a very uneasy feeling bushwhacking through vegetation where I could only see a few feet in front of me. I made a lot of noise to hopefully chase away any large black furry mammals! Of course, there was no view from the summit of Old Black in the middle of a thick forest, but I didn't get eaten by a bear. In the meantime, my wife, Geri, who had given up a summit bid much earlier and decided to let me hike ahead, came upon two bears just before the intersection of the AT. I was glad I had given her bear encounter advice before we separated. Her first impulse was to turn and walk away, but then she remembered my lecture and she stood her ground, yelled and clapped her hands. The bears quickly scattered. I have been hiking and climbing for over 40 years. I have never seen a bear in the wild during a hike in my life. My wife has only been hiking and climbing for a little over 10 years and she sees two bears in the same day. Chucks!
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