“If you drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, hike in Pisgah National Forest or on the Appalachian Trail, visit Mount Mitchell or the high elevations of the Smokies, you will find yourself in this forest, and you should know how singular it is.”
‘We, the petty actors, will pass away, forgotten; but never, while the everlasting mountains stand, the name of professor Mitchell.’ — The North Carolina Standard, 1857
On July 22, 1857, The North Carolina Standard ran a letter relaying the discovery of Elisha Mitchell’s fallen corpse. The Chapel Hill professor had made his way back to the Black Mountains to confirm his previous 1935 measurement of present-day Mount Mitchell.
“No one can approach Asheville without being struck with the awful sublimity of those dark ranges that tower from two thousand to six thousand feet into mid heavens,” writes Dr. J.P. Purcell in 1869 article “Wayside queries and Information.”
To many Western North Carolina residents, the region’s parks and recreational areas represent a chance to experience our state’s natural beauty and preserve its rich history. But what’s often overlooked is these attractions’ key role in bolstering local economies.
More than just birds are soaring the winds above Mount Mitchell. Dozens of pilots from around the country will soon attempt to fly motorless gliders over 20,000 feet above the area’s highest peak. They hope to be propelled upward by a natural phenomenon known as wind waves, which crest when air currents blow against the mountain ridge from the northwest.
It’s been a beautiful weekend to get outside and enjoy the Western North Carolina mountains. These photos were taken on a recent hiking trip along the Black Mountain Crest Trail, which winds its way northward from Mount Mitchell along one of the highest ridges in the Appalachians. In addition to Mitchell (the highest peak east of the Mississippi River at 6,684 feet), the 12 mile trail ascends Mount Craig (6,663 feet), Cattail Peak (6,675 feet) and Big Tom (6,580 feet) before dropping down to Bowlen’s Creek in Burnsville.