High Peaks Elects New Officers and Announces 2016 Hikes

The N.C. High Peaks Trail Association Board of Directors recently elected new officers for the 2015-2016 hiking season. Dennis Smith agreed to serve as President, Bob Williams as Vice President, Susan Weller as Treasurer and Nancy Fitzgibbon, a newly elected Board Member, as Secretary.  Other Board Members include Jake Blood, Robert Branch and Mike Williams.

The election serves as something of a milepost for High Peaks. Jake Blood, who founded the club along with John Whitehouse and Alan Orovitz, stepped aside after serving as president since the club was organized. Jake’s wife, Cynthia, who served as Secretary for several years, has also stepped aside. John Whitehouse, who served as Secretary before Cynthia, gave up his slot as Board Member, a position he filled since the club’s formation.

“We want to thank Jake, Cynthia and John for their tremendous dedication in shepherding the club through its formative years,” said Dennis Smith, the new High Peaks President. “We’ve grown from a handful of hikers to more than 100 members doing dozens of hikes and hundreds of hours of volunteer trail maintenance each year. The club is now recognized as a vital partner of the U.S. Forest Service and Mt. Mitchell State Park, and most of that is due to Jake, John and Cynthia’s hard work.”

High Peaks Board members are limited to serving six consecutive years, and this fact played a role in the change in leadership. The Bloods and John Whitehouse remain active in the club, with Jake continuing to serve on the Board and John continuing in his key role as head of the trail maintenance committee. 

The club also announced its hike line-up for 2016. The hikes will focus heavily on Mt. Mitchell and the Black Mountains, partly to help celebrate the Centennial of Mt. Mitchell State Park. High Peaks serves as the local sponsoring organization for the Friends of Mt. Mitchell State Park.

The hike list is subject to change, although every effort will be made to give hikers lots of advance notice if changes are made. The outing list includes:

January 1: Mt. Mitchell Trail

February 6: Colbert Ridge Trail to Deep Gap to Cattail

March 5: TBD

April 2: Lost Cove

May 7: Stepps Gap to Deep Gap to Cattail

June 4: Mt. Mitchell Loop

July 2: Celo to Deep Gap

August 6: Blackstock Knob

Sept. 3: Big Butt Trail

Oct. 1: Mt. Mitchell to Deep Gap to Cattail

Nov. 5: Grandfather Mountain

Dec 3: Woody Ridge Trail to Celo Knob