Black Balsam Knob to Tennant Mountain

October 14, 2017

Sherri and I

Sherri picked me up at 7 am and we head toward Asheville. Around 9 am we turn on to the Blue Ridge parkway which is usually crazy this time of year. It’s early so it’s not so bad.

I like this stretch because we quickly go through a couple of tunnels.

It becomes super foggy as soon as we hit the parkway. It’s 30 miles to our turn off so in a little bit the sun starts coming out and burning off the fog. By the time we get to the looking glass rock overlook we pull in a get some beautiful pictures of the fog below the mountains.  It looks amazing! Like the ocean around the mountains.

Nothing but awesome views till our turn towards the Art Loeb Trail.  It’s only 930 and both parking lots are packed and people are parked along the street. We park in between the two parking areas and walk to top parking lot.

The sun is out and it’s a beautiful day. There are people everywhere.

This is our first view. A mostly rock face climb up to the first bald which I’m not sure has a name. It’s not far but I haven’t hiked at this elevation in a while so I’m very winded (at least that’s what I think my problem is!) . It is just over 6000 feet. We get to the first one take a couple picks and move on to the second one. The next bald is Black Balsam.

The views are awesome since they are balds there are no trees to block your view! The trees are starting to show some color although it doesn’t appear to be very vibrant.

From here we can see Graveyard Fields and all the cars that fill that parking lot too. There is a couple of paths to take and no sign where it’s supposed to be but lots of people to ask. We head down the trail to Tennant Mountain.

When we get to the top of this one we sit and have a snack. By the time we are ready to go there are about 40 people up here. It’s very unusual for us because we generally don’t see many people on the trails. Personally I’d rather see people occasionally rather than always and I think Sherri feels the same.

We head down from Tennant mountain and go till we come to the invester trail so if we take it it goes back around these balds to the parking area. We keep on the Art Loeb trail and begin hiking through dense rhododendrons tall as we are. There are a lot of different trails here and it’s very confusing. We come to a big grassy area and begin our hike up the Art Loeb trail.

There are a lot of great camping spots all over these trails. I felt like I said “this is a great camping spot” so much that Sherri probably wanted to trip me if she heard it again! It was true. There were backpackers everywhere.

We end up at a grassy clearing again with a sign for shining rock wilderness. There are a bunch of trails that split off here. There are 2 girls with dogs we have been hiking near and they go straight up the middle. We look around then decide to go in that direction. We start a long hike upwards that curls around the back of this mountain through lots more rhododendrons. We never see these girls again.

I feel like we have been hiking forever and there are finally no people in sight and Sherri starts this bear talk. She wonders if bears walk in the trails or not. She said camping at Graveyard fields has been closed because of bears in the area.  Which is weird because its basically the same area only we are higher.  I don’t usually think about bears but the area around a us is so dense if I was a bear I’d walk in the trail because it’s impossible to get through these bushes! Now my mind is playing me! I’m on bear lookout the whole time. Now I’m asking stupid questions like what do bears eat? I keep looking in the woods and behind me for bears!  Sheesh.

We keep winding through the back side of this mountain not being able to see much and we come to a muddy part of the trail. I’m wearing trail runners so they are not waterproof and I have these nice trekking poles that i have relied heavily on for the last year and i guess they have been stretched because they now come apart when they get stuck in something. I kinda get stuck in the mud balancing one foot on a fry rock and so my pole so it goes limp in 3 places and is completely useless to me now. Sherri is laughing so hard at me being stuck and so am I! I swear we both almost peed!

I finally get myself together and get out of the mud and start back in the trail.  It looks like we are going to come around the mountain and be in a clearing but nope.  it just goes and goes and goes through the rhododendrons and we come to a crossroads with no signs.  We think shining rock should be to the right so we follow this trail up and it keeps getting more and more overgrown.  Instead of stopping we keep going all the while getting scrapped up by these trees.  We finally get to the top and can see the grass clearing where we started but no path that goes down and we are clearly not near shining rock.  So back down this path we go getting more scraped up.  We continue in the other direction and walk and walk and walk.

We go through this area that i think is just like the part of Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire where we have a wall of bushes on either side of us.  Its pretty cool.

I really don’t like to hike when I do not know where I am going.  I call it hiking blind.

I get all anxious and want to finish quicker.  Thats how this hike is going.  We haven’t seen any people in a very long time.

We just keep hiking and feel as though we are going in the right direction but it’s been at least 3 hours and no shining rock. Finally in what seams to be the middle of no where here comes 2 hikers going in the opposite direction. Yes! We are heading to shining rock. We keep going and we see a fairly large path to the left. There are people on it and we ask where is shinning rock and they say keep going straight. You would think something called Shinning Rock would at least be visible but nope. We are on the backside of shining Rock which incidentally doesn’t shine!

We finally arrive at a huge rock face and find out it’s the back side of Shining Rock. We wonder around and talk to a few people and find out Shining Rock Wilderness is just that wilderness, shinning rock is best viewed from afar! I climb a couple of rock areas but far as I can tell it’s a bunch of jagged rocks and I still haven’t stepped foot on shining rock! We have been hiking for bout 6 hours so we decide to start back. If we go the way we came we are never getting out of here. Sherri has a pretty damn good sense if direction thank god and she knows that we should take the path where we asked for directions. It was correct we take that one dnd it’s a fairly easy path about and hour or so from the road we are parked on.

I truly love to hike it brings me so much peace but the 2nd half of this journey was “dont harsh my mellow” as they say.

After all that I never got a picture of Shining Rock! Here is one from google dang it!

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