Ascent of Blackstock Knob on 2019-07-27

Climber: Bradley R

Others in Party:Amanda R
Date:Saturday, July 27, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Blackstock Knob
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:6320 ft / 1926 m

Ascent Trip Report

How I chose this hike: Amanda wanted to go on a hike for, probably, the first time in two years. She didn't want to do much over 5 miles and had mentioned a month or so before she'd like to drive up to Mount Mitchell. I used my RunKeeper App to map out the route to Blackstock via the Mountain to Sea Trail (MST), the result was a 5.4 miles out and back route, a good fit for the situation. Blackstock is on a few of my top priority lists, including "South Beyond 6000".

The plan: Drive to the top of Mitchell and take in the views briefly before heading back down to where the MST crosses the Mount Mitchell Rd (128). and hike west to Blackstock before turning around and returning.

Parking: We parked near where the MST crossed 128, approximately at "Trailhead Parking, Burnsville, NC 28714" using Google Maps. Not far from there is a post indicating where the trail is on the west side of the road, but it's not very visible (you'll be lucky to see it even if looking for it). If you get to the big brown sign (there's probably more than one big brown sign, but if you know roughly where you're starting this may help) you've gone just a bit too far.

The Hike: I didn't recall when creating the route via RunKeeper, but on the way up the road remembered this trailhead was one I'd used before (November of 2017) and had a difficult time finding, then the trail didn't follow the route. This recurred on this hike, but caused less loss of time due to this recollection. We found the trail crossing the road perhaps 75 yards from where our route suggested. It (the trail) then went in the opposite direction from the route and criss-crossed the route 2-3 times in the first mile, or so, before aligning and following the route for the remainder of the hike. RunKeeper uses OpenStreet Maps, kind of a wiki community for mapping. Since this has caused me a bit of a problem twice I went in a corrected.

For the first 1.8 miles the trail gains a bit more than 600 feet getting a bit steeper as you go, with only brief dips in elevation here and there. Early, while the trail and route didn't match we bushwahcked briefly, as we didn't see it being likely that he trail would return to our route, in hopes we might find another trail to take us. Shortly after we exited the trail we ran back into it and followed it from that point on. I had gone into this hike not expecting much in views. To my surprise there were several openings in this section allowing views to the south. A bit hazy, but still nice. Point Misery and Big Butt were in the forefront with a few other rows in the background. In one of these open sections Amanda got spooked and side-stepped. I turned around to see a rock rolling under her feet and watched her take a pretty hard fall. She toughed it out and was back going pretty quickly. Where the trail didn't follow the pre-made route there was approximately an extra 0.5 miles of hiking in this area. In this section much of the trail was uneven, but stable rock. The trail in this section and/or the next passed quite a few rock ledges most with quite a bit of water dripping from them. At one point I looked and could see the root system of a large tree almost directly above me hanging out from one of these ledges.

For the next 0.8 miles the trail loses elevation only slightly downhill for a while, then a bit steeper, losing about 230' in all. Open areas for long distance views are no longer present in this area.

The last 0.8 miles out again gains elevation, now more aggressively than before, gaining about 450 feet in this distance. Amanda needs a few breaks, and I encourage her to take her time. Near the top there's a lot of tree fall, but the trail has been cleared. If not for this the last quarter mile or so would have been miserable. We finally reach the top about 0.1 miles after the RunKeeper route ended (an error by me led to the mis-marked high point). The high point was amongst a thin grove of balsams. Amanda and I ate a few snacks and drank some water and Gatorade, then headed back down. Still in this section on the way down I stepped out do an edge where there were trees down, allowing for the only view north, still partially obstructed, allowing for Mitchell and surrounding peaks to be taken in.

We took the same route out (minus the early, short bushwhack). Within 2 miles of the trailhead we passed the only others we saw hiking, a group of two. Not too long after this Amanda took another fall. This one, from my perspective, didn't seem as hard as the earlier one. In some of the open areas I pointed out a few dark clouds to Amanda. This was good foreshadowing as within a 1/2 mile of the trailhead it started drizzling. As we exited the forest and completed the short walk up the road to our car it poured. We didn't quite get soaked, but close. Due to the extra distance early (where the route didn't match the trail), and late (the top was past the end of the route) we ended up hiking ~6.8 miles as opposed to the ~5.4 planned. The hike exceeded my expectations.

Other Notes:
- Amanda saw a small snake, maybe a Gartner Snake. It high-tailed it before I could get a good photo.
- I thought it would be too late for wild flowers. I was wrong, while it was probably past prime season, there were quite a few. Lilies; Angelica; Sunflower, Turtleheads; Primrose; Bluebead Lily and others were present. Rhododendron were blooming, but most were wilting badly.
- The weather early was a bit chilly to stand still, but with movement it wasn't a problem. Got a bit warm later before the rain started. Really pretty excellent temperatures for hiking.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1520 ft / 462 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1520 ft / 462 m
    Round-Trip Distance:6.8 mi / 11 km
    Quality:2 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Drizzle, Cool, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Mostly sunny early, pouring the rain as we got back to the car.
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1210 ft / 368 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 900 ft / 274 m; Extra: 310 ft / 94m
    Loss on way in:310 ft / 94 m
    Distance:3.4 mi / 5.5 km
    Route:Mountain To Sea Trail West
    Start Trailhead:Mount Mitchell Rd.  5420 ft / 1652 m
    Time:2 Hours 8 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1210 ft / 368 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 900 ft / 274 m; Extra: 310 ft / 94m
    Gain on way out:310 ft / 94 m
    Distance:3.4 mi / 5.5 km
    Route:Mountain To Sea Trail East
    End Trailhead:Mount Mitchell Rd.  5420 ft / 1652 m
    Time:2 Hours 51 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Bradley R
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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