Ascent of Stratton Bald on 2008-06-07

Climber: Brian Stansberry

Date:Saturday, June 7, 2008
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Stratton Bald
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:5360 ft / 1633 m

Ascent Trip Report

The first leg of the trail ("95") follows an old maintenance road around the slopes of Strawberry Knob to a three-way junction at a makeshift campsite. I followed the trail marked "54A" which immediately ascended to the northeast.

54A is a fairly standard ascent at first, but after appx. 0.5 miles, the trail enters a dense, claustrophobia-inducing rhododendron thicket. The trail is badly overgrown in some areas, but still fairly easy to follow. I was consistently pushing through briars and shrubs that had branched out over the trail. For a brief stretch, the rhododendron creates an almost perfect tunnel.

Just past the 54/59A junction, signs of a grassy bald begin to appear. The trail enters an area of relatively thin forest with a lush green grass. "Bob Bald"— the bald area of Stratton— is less than a half-mile beyond the 54/59 junction. There are multiple spurs and makeshift campsites at Bob Bald, and a spectacular view of the Unicoi crest to the south.

Beyond Bob Bald, the trail enters another stretch of thin forest and thick green grass (similar to Spence Field in the Smokies) as it ascends a narrow backbone-like ridge. I passed a North Carolina Transportation Department benchmark, but I don't think this marked a summit. The summit of Stratton Bald is at a rocky outcropping, just west of the 53/54 junction. The round trip distance of eight miles I listed for this hike is an approximation.

I literally *ran* the last half-mile or so to beat a storm that suddenly developed on an otherwise hot and humid afternoon. I made it to my car 5 minutes or so before the deluge began. Interestingly enough, the segment of Cherohala below about 3000 feet was dry, showing no sign of the cloudburst that had taunted the crest.
Summary Total Data
    Round-Trip Distance:8 mi / 12.9 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Route:Road #95/Trail #54A/Trail #54
Descent Statistics
    Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Route:Trail #54/Trail #54A/Road #95
Ascent Part of Trip: Stratton Bald

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Strawberry Knob2008-06-07 
2Bob Bald2008-06-07 
3Stratton Bald2008-06-07 

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