Thursday, October 22, 2015

2015-10-17 Linville Gorge Shortoff Mountain Hike

Shortoff Mountain Hike
Linville Gorge Wilderness
Burke County, NC
Saturday, October 17th, 2015
with Kenny, Lisa, and Indie (the Bear Dog)

On Shortoff Mountain

The Linville Gorge Wilderness offers up some of the most amazing scenery anywhere.  Unfortunately, it is on the outer edge of distances I like to travel for a dayhike.  However, since I was already camping this weekend, it would cut my drive distance by more than half!

I arrived to find the trailhead parking area at the end of Wolf Pit Road overflowing with vehicles, so I turned around and found a safe spot to park the truck a good ways back down the road.  Kenny, Lisa, and their dog Indie arrived shortly after I did.

 Indie (the Bear Dog)

I had never met Kenny or Lisa, so we spent some time introducing ourselves and talking about our past hiking experiences.  After about 45 minutes there was still no sign of Josh (the organizer of the day's hike) or any of the others who said they would be joining us.

Eventually Kenny, Lisa, Indie and I gave up on the rest of the group and decided to hit the trail on our own.

We started our hike on the Wolfpit Trail which quickly gains elevation and soon offers up some awesome views of Lake James.

view of Lake James from the Wolfpit Trail

We left the Wolfpit Trail on Rick's Crossover Trail to connect with the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST).  From there we decided to bushwhack along the SOCB (ShortOff Cliff Base).

 Kenny, Lisa, and Indie by the SOCB

I am glad I decided to zip on my pant legs because while it was not a difficult bushwhack, the route was loaded with Catbriers and Locust tree thorns!

Locust Tree Thorns - These things will tear you up!

Lisa showing off her scars from the bushwhack!

In addition to a little bloodshed, the bushwhack along the SOCB also resulted in the loss of (1) hiking pole and almost resulted in the loss of a Lime Green shirt on at least (3) occasions!

Looking Up from the SOCB

After exploring a bit of the SOCB, we returned back to the MST to continue our climb up Shortoff Mountain.

 The Wolfpit / MST 4-Way Intersection

Exactly 22 steps past the 4-way trail intersection, we left the MST to explore The Olson Trail.

Me along the Olson Trail

Kenny and Lisa hike along the Olson Trail (watch you step here!)

Kenny hiking through John's Kitchen along the Olson Trail

view of Lake James from John's Kitchen along the Olson Trail

Awesome view of Lake James from the Olson Trail

The Olson Trail eventually meets back up to the MST where we were treated to some of the best Fall Color of the hike.
Nice Fall Color on Shortoff Mountain

View from Shortoff Mountain

Looking down at Piano Rock

We continued on the MST to check out Shortoff Pond, the Pepsi Tree, and the Watertree Spring

Shortoff Pond - Hard to believe there can be a pond this close to the summit

The Pepsi Tree

Lousy Photo of the Watertree Spring.
The Spring starts from under this tree forming a nice little pool of potable water.

We decided to make this our turn around point, and returned to the trailhead via the MST and Wolfpit Trail.

Lisa, Kenny, and Indie along the MST

 Kenny hiking down the Wolfpit Trail

Some nice Fall Color and an awesome view of Lake James from the Wolfpit Trail

Overall we hiked about 7 miles.  The weather could not have been better with temperatures in the mid 60s and not a cloud in the sky!  It was truly a pleasure to meet up with and hike with Kenny and Lisa for the first time.

The complete set of photos is posted here:

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