There were non-accessible (to wheel chairs) trails off to the sides from this main highway, as I hiked my solitary way up:To the top itself finally:
Apparently the old concrete tower much beloved by my brother-in-law has been replaced by a much more stylish accessible round observation platform flanked by the grave of Elisha Mitchell, the North Carolina University professor who suffered a fatal accident on the mountain negotiating a waterfall. He was 64 and completing some scientific study of the mountain, the year was 1857, he died. His remains are in the tomb like contraption alongside the observation platform, which was marked with a compass rose and benches to sit upon:
Temperatures at the summit were horrendous as a strong south wind was blowing and the benign 25 degree (f) temperatures in the parking lot below were as nothing compared to the Arctic gale howling around the top of the mountain. I managed not to fumble my camera over the side and took some pictures of the superb views, surprisingly not covered in Siberian snow:
That last one is obviously of the road up and the ranger station a little dot along the way. I hurried my way back down into the lee of the pine woods and took a moment to catch my breath and observe another weird thing. Not the ice though heaven knows there was lots of that:
No, the weird thing I saw was little round PVC pipe headers sticking up out of the ground and then when I saw this on the way down I had to wonder what the Asheville water department was doing all the way up here:Happily for me the heated Maxima was in the parking lot with my patient wife inside. her arthritis doesn't agree at all with this weather, even less than i do, and I was glad she had chosen to wait inside, alone in the giant parking lot:On a previous visit to Asheville many years ago in our previous Maxima I had taken a detour and we had gone for a tour of the very western tip of North Carolina through the mountains. That was the time I forgot to use the automatic gearbox to maximum effect and we had suffered a nasty case of burning brake pad syndrome. This time as we descended the mountain I prudently put the gearbox into second and we descended at a stately 29 mph without touching the brakes: And so we descended back to reality, one hairpin at a time and left behind the magnificent views to a few stray cars coming up behind us. I wondered if this might be the outcrop known bluntly on the topo maps as "Celo Knob":
Temperatures were rising: I started to imagine I might survive the awful cold.