Shining Rock Overnight: Insanely Picture Heavy Thread (Dial-up Beware!)

Brian Jones

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This will be a series of posts, and there are a lot of pics, so get ready...

My brother and I went on an overnight in the Shining Rock Wilderness, culminating with a trip up to Shining Rock itself. Shining Rock is a white quartz mountaintop - you'll see in this thread why it's named such. The peak where we went stands at 5940 feet. The trails are rated as "difficult" or, "unmarked, requiring a high degree of skill with map and compass," which was apparent by the number of dayhikers and blueberry gatherers that stopped us to ask "where are we?" and were totally unequipped to be out there. The worst was a couple hiking with their baby: the guy was carrying the baby in his arms, wearing only flip flops, t-shirt and shorts on a rocky trail that was abundant with scratchy and thorny bushes, and the baby, who was maybe 8 months old, was turning beet red with sunburn. His wife had a small pack with only about a quart of water for all of them! My brother and I were almost ready to start charging for guide service at one point. A father and son wanted to hike all the way to Shining Rock, no map, no compass, and very little water. They asked us where they were and how to get there. We learned that these dayhikers don't like being advised that they are ill-prepared, so we stopped bothering to say anything. We pointed them about 50 yards down the trail - "Go that way, and see where the trail splits to the left right there? Take that and follow it all the way." "Thanks!" they said. Then they walked right past that left split and forked right...Wow! Amazing. I wanted to knock politely on their heads and ask, "Hello? Anybody in there?!?" We didn't bother trying to catch up to them and correct them with our heavy packs on. When we were summiting Shining Rock, two guys coming back down off it with no maps or compasses stopped and asked me "which trail leads to Cold Mountain?" They had no adequate supplies, no compass or map, and the trails to Cold Mountain split confusingly in numerous places. Did they expect to keep bumping into people to give them directions? At that point, I didn;t even pull out the map. I just took a bearing for them, and pointed Northeast, saying "Cold Mountain is that direction, so this trail will get you started," and off they went before I could even say anything else!

The Shining Rock itself was the most sacred place for the Cherokee Nation; it was their "Garden of Eden" and, in their particular origination mythology, the spot that they believed to be the birthplace of mankind. It's easy to understand how they thought so. The abundant, exposed white quartzite of the Rock is unique to the area, and stands out brilliantly against the heavily forested green of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The spot has a powerful air of tranquilty - in other words, you feel excited by the scenery and relaxed all at once.

Here's the first view as we round the corner off the Blue Ridge Parkway parking lot. It immediately captures your imagination and makes you want to plunge deep into the surrounding wilderness:
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The sign that we are about to enter the wilderness area:
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The trails are unmarked and left purposefully overgrown to entice more hardcore hikers/campers:
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Blueberries out here are abundant - the blueberry bushes surround and impede on the trails and extend out over the ridges and valleys as far as you can see. We eat them to our hearts' content. It seems like you could feed the whole world with the amount of blueberries out here:
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You can see the Art Loeb trail, our path, extending around and over the ridges because of the open terrain:
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Brian Jones

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More of the Art Loeb trail and its surroundings:
PICT0009-7.jpg


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We stop near the top of a ridge in the thickets, and find a bear trail that crosses the Art Loeb trail. We see sign of bear in this area
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As we see tree roots exposed, we feel like we are on the set of Lord of the Rings or travelling through Sherwood forest:
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My brother posin' fer pictures again:
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Yet another ridge we will be humping over. If you study the photo carefully, you'll see tiny bright spots - a couple tents of campers:
PICT0016-3.jpg


The blueberry thickets surrounding the trail:
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Brian Jones

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I stop to get a photo of my brother heading towards the ridge:
PICT0019-2.jpg


Looking due east from the pass between the ridges:
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We head over the last pass and find? Home! Our perfect campsite. It is ideal, and quiet.
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PICT0024-1.jpg


Here's where we decide to set up our tent:
PICT0025.jpg
 

Brian Jones

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More camp pics prior to set up:
PICT0027-1.jpg


Standing deadwood around the site due to blights and invading pests:
PICT0029-1.jpg


Now we have set up home:
PICT0030.jpg


First order of the afternoon--COFFEE!!! :)
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My brother posin' again:
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Our sleeping quarters:
PICT0034-1.jpg
 

Brian Jones

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My brother and I have a tradition. Our first night out in the backcountry, we hit a spot to view the sunset, and smoke a cigar:
PICT0052.jpg


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A shot of the half moon over our camp at night:
PICT0055.jpg
 
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Sunset and a cigar, sounds like a good tradition to me!

Talk about your perfect camp site, I don't think you could have designed better yourself.

When your brother started heading towards the ridge, did he happen to walk past a nude person sitting on a rock?
woohoo.gif
 

Brian Jones

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That night, a group of boys and their fathers, or a group of scouts and scoutmasters, or a church group set up camp near us. We can hear them talking and chatting, with one man definitely in control or just a control freak. We hear their conversations somewhat, and try to determine if they are a church group. Then the boys start telling "yo momma" jokes immediately followed by boisteous laughter. We suspect it's not a church group at this point, then it is confirmed in our minds when we hear this one the loudest:

"Your momma's so old, she went to kindergarten with Jesus."

In the moment of intense silence that follows, my brother and I look at each other and say, "DEFINTIELY not a church group!" and as we begin to laugh, the silence over at the other camp is broken by the adult alpha male:

"That's blasphemy! Your soul will be condemned to hell by that kind of sin! Everyone, we MUST pray over him for his very soul!" followed by a long period of intense prayers that God forgive this young man, etc. etc. etc."

My brother and I look at each other again:
"Nope. It's a church group!" And we involuntarily burst out in laughter that may have been loud enough for them to hear through their intense prayers, and probably did nothing to comfort the alpha adult, and probably was encouragement for the boys to tell more of the off-color "Yo momma" jokes when the adults weren't within earshot...:D

The next morning, we pack up and put our gear in the sun:
PICT0059.jpg


And head up towards The Shining Rock. We get our first amazing glimpse of why it is so named:
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The path becomes cut deeply and gets steeper until it becomes semi-rock-scaling near the summit:
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Mack

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Looks like a great time. Also sounds like people are always trying to prove Darwin correct.
Thanks for the pics.
 

Brian Jones

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The views and some rock formations from, and on, the top of The Shining Rock:
PICT0067.jpg


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jpr9954

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My brother and I went on an overnight in the Shining Rock Wilderness, culminating with a trip up to Shining Rock itself. Shining Rock is a white quartz mountaintop - you'll see in this thread why it's named such. The peak where we went stands at 5940 feet. The trails are rated as "difficult" or, "unmarked, requiring a high degree of skill with map and compass," which was apparent by the number of dayhikers and blueberry gatherers that stopped us to ask "where are we?" and were totally unequipped to be out there. The worst was a couple hiking with their baby: the guy was carrying the baby in his arms, wearing only flip flops, t-shirt and shorts on a rocky trail that was abundant with scratchy and thorny bushes, and the baby, who was maybe 8 months old, was turning beet red with sunburn. His wife had a small pack with only about a quart of water for all of them! My brother and I were almost ready to start charging for guide service at one point. A father and son wanted to hike all the way to Shining Rock, no map, no compass, and very little water. They asked us where they were and how to get there. We learned that these dayhikers don't like being advised that they are ill-prepared, so we stopped bothering to say anything. We pointed them about 50 yards down the trail - "Go that way, and see where the trail splits to the left right there? Take that and follow it all the way." "Thanks!" they said. Then they walked right past that left split and forked right...Wow! Amazing. I wanted to knock politely on their heads and ask, "Hello? Anybody in there?!?" We didn't bother trying to catch up to them and correct them with our heavy packs on. When we were summiting Shining Rock, two guys comoing back down off it with no maps or compasses stopped and asked me "which trail leads to Cold Mountain?" They had no adequate supplies, no compass or map, and the trails to Cold Mountain split confusingly in numerous places. Did they expect to keep bumping into people to give them directions? At that point, I didn;t even pull out the map. I just took a bearing for them, and pointed Northwest, saying "Cold Mountain is that direction, so this trail will get you started," and off they went before I could even say anything else!
snip

You wouldn't believe the number of lost hikers that have to be rescued each year in Shining Rock. Or maybe you would!:grumpy:

I think we in Haywood County should start doing like they do out west - charge you the costs if you have to be rescued due to your own damn fool negligence!

I'm glad you and your brother are having a fine time in Shining Rock. The cool front that came through the other day probably made it a bit nicer for hiking.

John
 

Brian Jones

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Is that somebody sitting on a rock in the grass?

Great pictures Brian, thanks for sharing...

ROCK6

Yes, that was a lady - a camper on the ridge - preparing to collect blueberries. She wasn't naked (thank God in this particular case ;)), just wearing a beige shirt and shorts.
 

Brian Jones

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Didn't really get many knife pics, sorry. Here's the closest I have - my Gossman PSK, Jr. in its sheath on my shoulder strap, and the BRKT Aurora on my waist strong-side:

PICT0075.jpg
 
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looks like a great trip...

shame about all the clueless hikers, i don't doubt that most will be miserable by the time they get home, and never want to go hiking again...
 

on_the_edge

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Thanks for sharing those great pics. What packs did you guys have? They're probably easily recognizable to most, but I am a backpack newb...:eek:
 
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