May 5, 2012 at 8:30 pm #1289587
@cameronLocale: The WOODS
Linville Gorge Hike
It was getting cool but I wanted to get in one last fall backpacking trip with Joseph my little brother. Now at 13 he's more of a young man than my kid brother. He is a great hiking partner and all around cool kid.
After going back and forth over where to go we agreed to head for Linville Gorge Wilderness. I was attracted to the area because of its reputation as a wild and woolly place. Joseph liked the pictures he found online of the dramatic scenery at the southern end of the canyon.
Our plan was to start near the top of the gorge and hike down to the Linville Gorge Trail. We would follow this trail down the gorge to the southern end of the wilderness. Then we would wade the Linville River and come back on the other side making a lollipop loop.
The trail quickly dropped down into the gorge. Bushes pushed in on the trail making it hard to follow in some places. We got onto a deer trail than wormed our way back through jungle like brush to find the real trail.
Eventually we reached the river. We ate a good snack, got some water and pressed the SPOT so mom would know we were still alive.
I'd hoped that after the initial decent to the river our path would be a bit easier. But it was not. It still went up and down and the way was often blocked by blow downs and tricky rocks.
This was the first time in the eastern US that I'd ever had difficulties knowing where the trail is. The extra bit of wilderness was invigorating and we looked forward to the scenic areas to the south.
However there was a growing uneasiness that we began to discuss.
Joseph and I were fine with a rugged trail but there was no way to quickly move down a trail that was soaking wet, steep and dangeriouly slick. Often we would be hanging onto tree branches lowering ourselves down over rocks. Looking at the map there was just no way we would be able to do the loop in two days.
I would have been happy to shorten the trip and do an out and back hike. The wildness and ruggness of the gorge was everything I wanted in a backpacking trip. I sensed thought that it would not be what Joseph would have chose. A shorter trip would mean we'd miss the scenic views of the southern gorge and spend most of our time in the trees.
I gave Joseph a choice. We could stay but realistically there would be no special views. Or we could bail and go some other place. Joseph quickly choose to bail so we headed out out of the canyon on a side trail.
As if to confirm our decision to leave it began to snow lightly as we left. We quickly climbed up to some nice views of the canyon.
Once we climbed out of the gorge the ground was a lot more dried out. We were much faster going up than down because the rocks weren't wet.
On the way out we stopped at an overlook of what we could have hiked through. Joseph liked this a lot better.
I had really liked Linville Gorge but Joseph had his heart seeing the high country again. So after taking some pictures we headed off to spend the rest of our trip at the Shining Rock Wilderness. But thats another trip report…May 6, 2012 at 3:48 am #1874848
@leighbLocale: Northeast Texas Pineywoods
Great TR Luke,
Makes me wish I had a sibling to hike with! The Gorge gets talked about a lot on Hammock Forums and it's one of many places on "my list". Thanks for sharing!May 6, 2012 at 5:52 am #1874856
@tomclarkLocale: East Coast
Looks like a nice time. Plenty of great views in the gorge, but it is a steep hike…particularly since you know you have to hike back up. ;)
TomMay 6, 2012 at 11:06 am #1874928
@ikeLocale: Central Michigan
I've only seen the Mountains to Sea section of the gorge, but it was a memorable area. I'm already starting to think about returning for somethink epic.
Trips don't always go as planned, but it looks like you found a way to keep things enjoyable for your brother. Cool report.May 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm #1875055
@xpatrickxadLocale: Upper East TN
Another good report there, buddy. Things don't always turn out according to plan (we've all been there for sure!), but it makes me pumped that you salvaged the time and hit Shinning Rock together.
I'm tentatively planning on doing Linville for the first time on Tuesday-Wednesday so if it works out I'll report back on trail conditions. Seeing this is getting me excited for it.May 6, 2012 at 6:42 pm #1875073
@cameronLocale: The WOODS
Thanks for the kind words ya'll. Patrick I hope you have fun there! Watch out for snakes, I hear there are a lot of them in the summer.
As I mentioned in the TR the main thing slowing us up was the wet rocks. With the rocks wet and slippery our pace was more determined by what we could do safelty than by how athletic we were. If things were a bit more dried out I'd expect to move a lot faster but its definately more rugged than any other trail I've seen in the east.
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