Big Lost Cove Cliffs (Whiteout Edition) – 10-24-2015

I was recently on Big Lost Cove Cliffs on 9-16-2015 with some fellow hikertrash friends of mine and it was at that time we decided it would be a good idea to come back when the Fall leaf colors were in full peak. The leaves dictated this timing to be on 10-24-2015 however, Mother Nature dictated something else entirely which would mean not seeing any of the vast and incredible views of the colors from the cliff tops. The forecast was for no rain or clouds and warm temps  but, despite a gorgeous sunrise that I witnessed in Johnson City, as we approached Newland, NC we ran into heavy fog. Of course we all assumed this would eventually burn off later with the sun and heat of the day so we continued with the plan and were soon on gravel FS Road #464 where we encountered a wagon trail ! This was interesting to see and soon we would be at the trail head where there would be no place to park ! This is an issue here during weekends and it seems there were others that had the same idea we had ! Squeezing in further down the road we began the hike towards the cliffs with big hopes of a clearing and awesome visuals filled with brilliant colors.

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Colors showing through the fog

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The weather forecast was great and the sunrise that morning gave no indication of anything different

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Beautiful sunrise I witnessed while waiting on John Forbes to arrive at the meeting place

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Heavy fog we encountered around Newland, NC

I was accompanied by my friend John Forbes for this adventure but, we would later run into some friends along the way, Dan Till and fellow hike mates Kevin and Amanda who had coincidentally chosen this location as well.  As John and I made our way down the gravel forest road that leads to the trail head, we came across a wagon train. I am not sure if they were just unhappy that we were on the road or were just unhappy people in general, or perhaps it was the fog but, despite our smiling and waving at each of them, not one smile or wave was returned.

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The wagon train

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The wagon train

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No smiles, no waves,,,

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Wagon train

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Wagon train

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Wagon train

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Again, no smiles, no waves, and we did stop the car completely while they passed and moved as far right as we could !

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Wagon trail, or mule train would better describe it

As we made our way up the first hill to claim the ridge top we could see the colors were indeed fabulous even through the very dense fog. Of course once this first hill is conquered it is actually downhill the rest of the way to the cliffs. We took our time in getting there as it did look like it would be awhile before the heavy fog would be lifting. We had no idea then just how long that would end up being !

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Colors showing through the fog along the trail

There were many people on the mountain, some of which had been camping there overnight, may of which were climbers. They were heading off the mountain as the fog had the rocks soaking wet which would not allow any climbing to be possible. When we found the side trail to the cliffs and made our way out on to them, it was total whiteout with absolutely nothing visible beyond a few feet. We all sat down and waited for the morning to progress and burn through the white barrier.

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John and Dan on the edge of the cliffs looking for a view. There were none.

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John stands on the edge of the cliffs. Normally there would be massive views behind him but, not on this day

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As I look across the edge of the cliffs, I could barely see John doing his Gnome pose on top of the Keyhole Rock

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John captured me doing this Gnome pose through the fog while we waited and hoped for the fog to clear (Photo by John Forbes)

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I had never noticed this particular pothole on the cliffs before. it was as if Mother Nature was flipping us off for this day !

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Me making the best of a dreary day (Photo by John Forbes)

And we waited. And waited. Eventually it was 12 noon. Then 1pm,,,,, then 2pm,,,, there was only so much we could check out and see here with the thick fog and it was becoming rather chilly so someone decided we would build a fire. Of course this took some effort but, after all, what else did we have to do ? After about a half hour of prepping and work, a fire came to life ! Before we would leave it would be a very respectable fire and it did provide lots of warmth and enjoyment.

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Where there is smoke,,,,

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,,,there is fire !!

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This would be our view all day

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Back to the fire, it has grown and now has the makings of a real fire pit

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The keyhole rock. it does not care if it is foggy or not.

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A moisture laden spider web

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A wet web, because, there was nothing much else to photograph !

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Back to the fire again. One of the highlights of the day !

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Some brilliant reds that were everywhere on the mountain

By late after noon, we did conclude that the fog was never going away and that we would have to just admit it and hike back out. So, letting the fire die down and using what water we had to extinguish it, we began the long climb back up the hill the way we had came. There was some thinning of the fog towards the top of the mountain but it never did clear off ever. I managed to get a few shots of colors along the way and especially when we passed under the power lines but, that would be it for this trip.

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Tent in the fog

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Me making my way off the mountain (Photo by John Forbes)

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Colors seen along the power line where the trail passes under

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Brilliant colors we could see on our way out where some of the fog had thinned. I can only imagine what the views would have been like from the cliffs as it would be like looking out over an ocean of this.

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Colors seen along the trail

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Peak color seen along the trail

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A very wet trail

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Vivid color as we pass under the power line for a second time

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Color along the power lines

As far as seeing the peak colors from the cliffs during this season, that was not going to happen as I was unable to get back up there before the colors were past peak but, we all had fun in the whiteout and it was not a total loss as anytime in the woods is a good time regardless of the conditions. Until next time,,,,,,,,

Posted on 16 November '15 by , under RATtreks.

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