Daina, Mike and I
It has been two weeks without a hike. I was just dying to get out on a trail. My daughter Daina wanted to go and was up for anything. Mike decided he wanted to go also but usually does not like elevation hikes. I suggested Panthertown Valley and he said it was to far away. The Taylor Brothers band was at Johns place that night and he wanted to get back in time to make it. My next suggestion was Shortoff Mountain. I have hiked this twice, once in September and once in November. This hike was very different this time because of the heat.
I love this hike. It is not very long to the top but is quite steep. All trails says it is 5.6 miles out and back. The 2.8 mile mark was at a random area. I am not sure why they calculated it that way. The elevation gain is 1289 ft. Most of that in the first mile and a half. The reward at the top is just amazing. It looks over the Linville Gorge and at the end are views of Table Rock and Hawksbill.
Mike said he as going to hike his own hike. We agreed that at 1 o’clock we would turn around and catch back up to him. He was going to hike as far and as much as he could but may or may not make it to the top.
He was wearing jeans and and his long hair down under his hat. I told him I had a ponytail holder for him. He said he didn’t want it and acted like it was a dumb suggestion. I said you will be sorry its gonna be hot!
Shortoff Mountain had a fire a few years back so there isn’t much shade. Most of the trees were burned down. The path up is a rocky dirt path. The temperature was in the middle 80’s at the top and pushing 90 at the bottom. It was actually like hiking through the desert.
We all started together and Daina and I quickly got ahead of Mike. We waited at the turn up Shortoff Mountain and he was just behind us. This quickly goes up a long area of steps and rocks. There weren’t any switchbacks for a while. We could hear Mike talking to someone. Then 3 young guys without water or backpacks came by. They asked how far to the top and went ahead of us. A few minutes later they were stopped on the trail and we passed them. Mike caught up with us where I was taking a break. He passed those guys while they were taking a break. He wanted his hair in a pony tail now!
We left him again and went up. A little while later when I was taking another break the 3 guys caught up with us. I asked them where the guy in the jeans was and they said he was sitting on a rock back there and was going to catch up at the top or when we came down!
We continued walking. Things were really starting to bloom up there!
It was really hot and dry today. I had to take quite a few breaks. When we got to the first rock outcropping just below the top those 3 guys were there. Daina and I continued up the trail to the top. We stopped at most of the rock overlooks.
She found a picture on the internet of someone on top of a very large rock that people stop and take pictures at. She wanted to find it but I have been up there twice and never seen it. We kept walking till we came to the 2.8 mile mark. We stopped here and took some pictures. The trail continues all the way to Tablerock. We never did see the rock she was looking for.
We turned around and went back down the trail looking for the rock she found. I looked at every side trail and finally found it a half mile back. We walked over to it and it was a huge rock that was connected on 1 side. The other 3 sides were about 1000 feet down! I went to the left to get a picture of her on the rock and there were some people sitting there and they said it was called “Picture Rock”. Go figure. They offered to take our picture up there. It was a great shot.
We started back down the trail and quickly ran into Mike! He made it. The cool thing about Shortoff is once you get to the top its a flat trail along the ridgeline for another 2 miles or more, I don’t know I haven’t gone that far. He wanted to go to the half way point so we turned around and took him to picture rock. He did not get on this rock of course but took a picture from the top of the safe rocks. I gave him a gold star for the hike!
Daina and I had lunch here while we took a break. It is a great view. Luckily it is also pretty windy up here. Shortoff is most windy where it faces Tablerock. I have no idea why but it sure feels great! When the trail leaves the ridge and is more inland it is hot and dry.
It was time to get going back down the trail. We walked the ridgeline and I showed them the cliffs were the rock climbers go. Mike said there were some that were back a bit. This trail was full of grasshoppers. Who ever was leading basically got swarmed by them. At one point i was leading and got stacked by a 🐝. I swatted it at Daina. We both took off running and Mike came along and said it was a butterfly! I still think it was a bee!
We stopped to take a small break where some rock climbers had just finished and said they were heading to Table Rock to climb through the night!
I love this hike but I was ready to leave this hot desert and get into some air conditioning.
We made it back to the car and turned that a/c on! I was completely out of water for the last two miles. When we got home I went right to sleep for a couple hours. Denise picked me up at 8 and we went to Johns place to see the band. Mike didn’t make it after all. 😳