The Plott Balsam via Waterrock Knob

8/8/20

Sherri, Daina and I

I was looking at the SB6000 challenge which is 40 peaks over 6000 feet. Sherri and I always seam to do peaks so I asked her if she wanted to go to MT Mitchell and she came up with this hike. Waterrock knob to Plott Balsam and Yellow Face. 4 peaks! So heck yea! We get up early and head to the Waterrock knob on the Blue Ridge Parkwsy bear Silva NC.

The parking lot is kinda busy already. We take the trail up to Waterrock Knob. At first it’s a paved pathway that’s pretty steep. We start out at like 5800 ft elevation and it’s steep. I always blame being winded on the elevation! It goes to an overview. Then it becomes a steep dirt trail up to Waterrock knob. This is me looking down on Sherri coming up the trail.

Then we arrive. It’s just a beautiful view. It’s actually the same view you get from the parking lot but I won’t tell anyone!

Waterrock knob

We head back up and take the trail to the right and head towards Mt Lyn Lowery. This trail is quite a mess. The people and erosion plus the lack of trail maintenance leaves it a muddy, root filled mess. People have made extra trails around rough spots. It’s .5 miles to the plane crash site which is pretty popular. This short trek takes about an hour because of the bad trail. When we reach the clearing it’s left down the hill to the plane crash site. There isn’t a sign to direct you. It would be easy to miss but it’s not far off this trail.

This place crashed in 1983. It was a Tennessee minister and a woman passenger. He didn’t file a flight plan and was drinking so he was flying under the radar so to speak and came in to low and crashed into the side of the mountain and both were killed. All of the engine and mechanical things are gone and the interior is gone but most of the body is still there or scattered around on the downside of the mountain.

We got back on the trail to make our wsy to the next peak Mt. Lyn Lowery. It’s only about 2 more miles but again it’s a hard hike down and up steep areas with root filled trails. After a while the trail becomes super thin and overgrown. Below is a pic of Sherri’s head barely sticking out. Poor short Daina was covered in the overgrowth! I do have a track that we are following but it was somewhat marked with yellow marks. It’s a bit confusing in places. Two guys passed us and that was it for people all the way.

Overgrown

The trail then becomes an old road and passes right beside a new cabin. Seams like a strange place for it snd the road down is very far. No one was there but what’s view!

Behind the cabin is this tower. From the tower the trail goes left toward Mt Lyn lowery.

It’s only another half mile till we start seeing survey markers. A little further and we come to the Cross. It has lights snd can be seen from us 19 in Waynesville NC. It can also be seen at milepost 442.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s at 6280 ft elevation. The reason it is there is a memorial to Lyn Lowery. She died at 15 in 1962 from Lukeimia. Her parents put it there in her memory. Rev. billy Graham came to the cross and dedicated it a year after it was finished. I wonder how he got there? It’s a tough hike!

It’s already one o’clock and to get to Plott Balsame it’s a 2 mile bushwhack and it’s a peak we need. But….. I don’t want to get home at midnight do we skip it. This is what it looks like.

We had lunch and then turned around to hike back. On the way back we passed 2 people hiking to the cross. Then we saw two other sets of people who were looking for the plane crash. We pointed them in the right direction and they turned around and made the climb back up!

We all realized that we did not want to go to Yellowface MTN. We were all tired. It’s actually back at the parking lot and across the Blue Ridge. Next time!

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