Ascent of Plott Balsam Mountain on 2015-05-24

Climber: Matthew Sleeper

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, May 24, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Plott Balsam Mountain
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:6088 ft / 1855 m

Ascent Trip Report

This is the real deal kids. You may have LOTR visions at this point. Do not attempt this hike without a map/compass or a GPS with preloaded breadcrumbs. There are also no views on Plott Balsam, so unless you are a boy scout, a masochist, a peak bagger, or some combination thereof I do not recommend this hike.

From Lyn Lowry on the (northwest-ish) side facing Plott Balsam head down the 45degree slope off the summit. There is a small entrance into some bushes and you'll continue into a much more sparsely marked trail. You'll eventually come out onto an old logging road. From a conversation I had with a person on the summit, the clear cut "field" (not something you could walk in) you can see from Lyn Lowry is new within 15yrs. The directions in the 11/2014 trip report are solid. Keep in mind there is no water on this trail. There was an animal in the woods just past the field making a good bit of noise, but it stopped when I yelled hello. No idea what it was, but I kept moving and making noise. I think I saw a ribbon for Oldfield Top, but it looked treed in, so I continued on. The trail stays about 80ft shy of its summit. Shortly after encountered momma grouse and her chicks, who scared the crap out of me. Apparently grouse can hiss like cats, she was mad! I let them move along and proceeded, a little shaken up.

The part that makes this hike hard is the bushwhack up the ridge to the summit. I took a compass heading of dead north and proceeded to bushwhack my way up the ridge. The terrain is rockless but steeep pine forest. The trail markers are few and far between and there's not really a trail thats clear here. It will eventually reappear on the ridge and will take you to a clear and well marked summit. There's a small rock and lots of ribbons... woo. I was proud of myself on the way down, I came out on the road within 20ft of where I had started going up. Overall with breaks from Waterrock Knob parking lot, 3hrs 40 min in, 2hrs 50min out. I am a fairly quick hiker, so this slow pace is indicative of the very rugged terrain. Most of the time difference was due to navigating between ribbons and motorin' on the logging road coming out. Legs were quite sore, but knees were fine. The earth is quite soft on this 8mi hike. (Plus 1.8mi for camping on Yellow Face the day before)

Bonus: I lost my Nat Geo map somewhere on the return. If you find it, enjoy, or for bonus karma points, email me.
Summary Total Data
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Ascent Part of Trip: Plott Balsam Adv (1 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Yellow Face2015-05-23 
2Waterrock Knob2015-05-24 
3Browning Knob2015-05-24 
4Fork Ridge2015-05-24 
5Mount Lyn Lowry2015-05-24 
6Plott Balsam Mountain2015-05-24 

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