Tuesday was a trip to Mt. Mitchell. Bless our GPS’s heart it took us right through the heart of Asheville and then a very windy road until we finally arrived at Mt. Mitchell State Park, the first state park in North Carolina and the highest point east of the Mississippi. We rode up to the top and then hiked up to the observation deck where the elevation was 6684 feet. Despite the cloudy day the view was beautiful.
Halfway back down from the observation deck we took a detour and navigated the Balsam Trail. What a fragrant hike surrounded by Frazer Firs and Red Spruce plus other beautiful foliage. It truly smelled like Christmas!
Because of the extreme weather at the top of Mt. Mitchell very few trees can survive in the park. Some of the survivors are yellow birch, mountain ash, fire cherry and red-berried elder. Interestingly enough though the cool, moist conditions make it an ideal place for numerous wildflowers including White Snakeroot, Mountain St. Johnswort and Wood Sorrel to mention just a few. As we walked along we saw many examples of these wildflowers.
Although the area is supposed to be a mecca for mushrooms we saw only one, well we only identified one, the red gill webcap. After completing the fragrant hike we enjoyed our picnic lunch gazing out over the lovely mountains.
Our next stop was the Zeb Vance Birthplace. We toured the small museum where we learned that Vance was a charismatic, plain speaking man. Before political debates were televised candidates would spend months traveling from town to town to campaign on the leading issues of the election. Because the candidate often had to stand on a tree stump so the crowd could see and hear him their speeches were called “stump speeches”. With his plain manner of speaking and sharp wit, Vance was a celebrated stump speaker. After touring the museum and learning more about Zeb Vance who served two terms as governor although not consecutive, we wandered around the grounds where we saw several building including the main house which actually had an upstairs.
Returning to the campground we rested a bit, had dinner and then walked around the park for a while. It is a lovely park with what appeared to be travelers (like us) and some seasonal visitors. Over the week we met several people from Florida who come up to spend the month of August in the mountains. Guess it is cooler than Florida but the temperature increased each day we were there. It got a little hot!