Don’t you love it when it rains during the week and the sun comes out for the weekend? The remnants of Sally leave the state Friday afternoon, clearing the way for cool temperatures — highs only in the mid-60s, overnight lows in the upper 40s — and sunny skies. It’s a weekend when you’ll definitely want to be outside. Trouble is, so will everyone else.
We had just crawled into our tents Friday night when the rain started: a gentle patter at first, the kind known for lulling you to sleep. Then it got down to business.
I drifted off to sleep realizing that the weekend of cavorting in the pools and cascades of Wilson Creek that we had planned might not come to pass. We’d been waiting weeks, in 90-degree-plus weather, for the chance to jump into these chill mountain pools, then sun off on the adjoining granite slabs, and repeat. Oh well, I thought, good thing we have a Plan B.
Some workweeks last longer than others. We’re guessing this will be a long one, even though for us it’s only four days. Friday, we’re turning on the “out of office” reply and slipping out the door for a wild weekend in Wilson Creek.
Wilson Creek, Linville Gorge’s little brother. It may not have the gaping chasm of its better-known neighbor, but it does have numerous smaller ones that offer intimate, less crowded and more accessible (somewhat) access to the bracing waters that drain from Grandfather Mountain’s southeast flank. Cascades and their resulting pools, where relief from an onslaught of 90-degree summer heat is found in so many spots, not just in the main gorge. And many of these pools are rimmed by polished granite, ideal for sunbathing. Take a dip, sunbathe until dry. Repeat. Imaging spending an afternoon — or the entire weekend doing — just that.
We’d both been quiet for a while, too hot, sweatyand drained for chit chat. In two and a half days we’d hiked 25 miles, most in full pack, most in 90-degree heat. We were nearing the end — hopefully, of just the hike.
I looked over my shoulder and saw a rare downcast look on Alison’s face. “They aren’t gonna like this,” she said.
I was contemplating a backpack trip in the Black Mountains, and step 1, in general but especially in these pandemic times, was to make sure the route I was considering was open.
I was marginally surprised, only because so many of the trails that had been closed in the Pisgah National Forest in April have since reopened. But not, according to the U.S. Forest Service, the Black Mountain Crest Trail from Cattail Peak north to the trail’s northern terminus, at Bolens Creek. The specific reason for the closure wasn’t given, simply for “public health and safety.”