High Peaks Offers Full Weekend of Fun Sept. 7-8

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Join the NC High Peaks Trail Association for a challenging hike up Mt. Mitchell on Saturday, Sept. 7 in celebration of the 42nd birthday of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, followed by a tour of the area’s picturesque swinging bridges led by a noted local author on Sunday, Sept. 8.

The Mount Mitchell hike is rated as very strenuous, with a six-mile climb up the Mount Mitchell Trail, which includes an elevation gain of 3,700 feet over a very rugged footpath. Hikers will be shuttled in vans for the outing, and should bring warm clothes, rain gear, snacks, lunch, plenty of water and hiking poles if you use them. Dogs are not allowed on the vans, so you must provide your own transportation if you plan to bring your leashed pooch.

The swinging bridge tour will be led by Katey Schultz, author of “Lost Crossings: A Contemplative Look at WNC’s Historic Swinging Bridges,” a book that has been featured in “Our State” magazine and on UNC-TV’s program by the same name.

The bridges are unique to our mountain area, a product of the region’s steep topography and limited transportation network, and were once a vital link for rural families cut off from the road grid by rushing rivers. The tour group will be limited in number, but participants will have a chance to photograph and cross several bridges in Yancey and Mitchell counties.

Participants for both outings should gather at the Rose’s shopping center parking lot on the corner overlooking the traffic lights on Highway 19. Please note the new location – a change from our past practice of gathering on the Town Square (we’ve found we conflict with too many events there.) Please meet at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday for the Mt. Mitchell hike and at 1 p.m. on Sunday for the swinging bridge tour.

Participants are asked to contact the leaders by Thursday evening, Sept. 5 to make their van reservations, which require a $5 donation. For the Mt. Mitchell hike, contact John Whitehouse at trails@nchighpeaks.org or 682-3217. For the swinging bridge tour, contact Katey Schultz at katey13@hotmail.com or 675-1312.

Participants in the bridge tour are asked to bring rain gear, water and a snack if you think you’ll want one. Dogs will not be allowed on the tour. Please make a bathroom stop before departure as there are no facilities for such on the tour.