Cold Mountain is a 6,030ft peak in the Shining Rock Wilderness, while not the highest peak in the Southern Appalachians it is certainly one of the most famous! Naturally, we were very excited to lead the Cold Mountain Challenge Hike again this year. Everything was set to go when the snow storm hit, it was not going to be possible for us to hike on our scheduled date. However, we decided “the hike must go on!” The group trekked up Cold Mountain this Saturday, December 16th and had a excellent time.
Hiking Cold Mountain was on the bucket list for the majority of the hikers, so there was excitement in the air as we started on the Art Loeb Trail. The first mile of the trail was covered with beautiful needle ice that crunched with every step. We climbed up and up while the forest around us alternated between hardwoods and rhododendron . The group was lost in conversation when suddenly we turned a corner to see a completely snow covered trail! The woods looked peaceful under the blanket of white; we were seeing the mountain at an extraordinary time.
The group set brisk pace crossing icy creeks, and climbing through the steep, snowy terrain until making it to Deep Gap. Here we stopped for a snack break before the 1.4 mile climb to the summit! We moved slowly and deliberately towards the top where the snow was thick and slick. Finally, the group made it to the beautiful Cold Mountain summit, feeling a little tired from the trek up. We ate lunch, enjoyed spectacular views, and tried to remember the names of distant peaks.
We felt re-energized from our break when started back down the trail. The slippery decent went quickly and before we knew it we were back at our cars. It had been beautiful day in the mountains.