Sunday, April 28, 2019

Week 26 – Doubletop Mountain (#56) and Snaggy Bald (#57)

It was April 10, 2019.   Both mountains shared the same starting point which was on gated Forest Service Road 4652 (seasonally accessible between March 15th and December 31).  It started out as a 1 kilometer hike to the summit of Snaggy Bald which is a bush whack of the ridgeline.  There was no trail per se, although there was a logging road which hugged the ridgeline for a little while.  The hardwoods were still leafless at this high elevation which was desirable – as a bush whack with heavy foliage is that much more difficult.  Scott set up on the summit and I setup just below him on the AZ.   The hike was steep – climbing 140 meters in a kilometer. 

Patrick KI4SVM was going to Mt. Hardy W4C/WM-006 and he kept tabs on our progress – wanting to make an S2S contact with us.  I did make contact with Pat from both summits – once with CW and the other on the 2m HT, and so did Scott.  We then descended Snaggy Bald and made a right turn as we picked up the ridge  towards Doubletop.   It was a steep decent on the ridgeline to the gap between the two mountains.    We ascended to several false peaks before reaching Doubletop Mountain.  About 200m from the summit of Doubletop stood a 7 foot high boulder which covered the entire width of the ridge.    We had two options – go around the boulder by descending the ridge or go over it “free solo”.   The ridge was very steep and going around it did not seem like a good idea.   I was the one that found the boulder and I thought going over the top was the better choice. 

Scott and I both safely made it over.   We then ascended to the penultimate false peak – we called Doubletop Junior.    After Doubletop Junior,  the summit of Doubletop was still a distant 200m away.  We were still faced with a steep 60m vertical rise over the remaining 200m.   After we were sure we were within the AZ, Scott proceeded to the summit.   I setup my station just below Scott in the AZ

Scott set up using the observation tower as a support for his vertical.    I tried to call Scott but apparently his HT had died.   Scott tried to text me to tell me about the wonderful views to be had on the summit observation tower.   I was disappointed that I missed the opportunity – only a few meters away.

I set up my station by lashing my mast to a convenient tree.    The difficulty came in getting the antenna trap stuck in a tree limb.   Scott’s pole came to the rescue as he pulled down the tree limb with it to untangle the wire.   With station set up wrapped up and contacts made, now the chore of hiking down was before us.

Scott and I discussed that we still had a long hike back to the car.   It had already taken 3 hours to hike the 4 km from Snaggy Bald and it was about 3:30 PM when we reached the summit of Doubletop.  I stopped and started packing up at about 4:30 PM.  Scott shared  that the view was fantastic from the fire tower and we took a quick glance at the panorama video he had taken.
One of the mistakes we made in going up to Doubletop is not maintaining the ridge line and we paid for it by the steep bush whack to regain the ridge.  We resolved to maintain the ridge line coming down.

The descent went according to plan. We maintained the ridge track and made it back to the logging road.  We followed that logging road all the way back to the truck.   It was almost 7:30 as were underway back to Asheville.

We counted all the ups and downs and by my reckoning, we had ascended a total 750 meters (2453 feet) all in about 8 kilometers (5 miles).
That was an epic hike, Scott and I both were hurting at the end of the day – with Scott clearly the fitter one.

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