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Ascent of Ridgepole Mountain on 2015-01-17

Climber: Jared Salzmann

Others in Party:Hike Georgia meetup
Date:Saturday, January 17, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Ridgepole Mountain
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:5043 ft / 1537 m

Ascent Trip Report

Exploratory hike with Hike Georgia (meetup group). From Patterson Gap we tried to follow the trail to get to the area that consists of switchbacks at the head of Negro Branch. The switchbacks were not visible at all. We did see some very faint red blazes on the north side of the trees as well as trail tape. I climbed the ridge straight up but at the top of the ridge I didn't see a strong trail (should have read previous Ridgepole and Grassy Ridge trail reports that mention this). I personally would have just bushwhacked up or around the Grassy Ridge Mountain. Wanting to stick together, we back tracked to the previous intersection and continued on the original trail. On the topo, it looks like the trail crosses Negro and then heads east with Negro but if you hang a left just after you cross Negro on a lightly used trail, this trail will take you up to Nichols Gap. The trail continues to the AT as shown on the map. I should mention that this entire "Grassy Ridge Trail" is lightly traveled and unmarked so it would be wise to carry a GPS.

Once we reached the AT at Carter Gap, we decided to bushwhack up to Ridgepole Mountain. We went up the ridge directly from Carter Gap. TONS of mountain laurel the entire way to contend with but no briers. Being the winter, branches tend to snap but you wouldn't have that going for you if you hiked this path in the summer. Very little winter view at the top. I was able to get a slight view climbing up a tree. Our descent veered off to the north a bit (20-30 degrees) where there were fewer mountain laurel to push through. That may be a better route. Other trip reports say north side is good. I can't really recommend the best way.

Apparently there is a great view called "AT Overlook" that is labeled "Little Ridgepole Mountain" on the map. I wished we had gone there instead of up Ridgepole.
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
The view from up in a tree in winter on top of Ridgepole (2015-01-17). Photo by Jared Salzmann.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2600 ft / 791 m
    Extra Gain:448 ft / 136 m
    Round-Trip Distance:10 mi / 16.1 km
    Route:Grassy Ridge Trail
    Trailhead:Patterson Gap  3339 ft / 1017 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 30 Minutes



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