|Looking north at Celo Knob along the gorgeous but hard-to-reach Black Mountain Crest Trail.|
The hike along that ridgeline is sometimes known as the "death march," because of the punishing ups and downs. It is even harder starting from the other end, because there is no road up Celo Knob and you must start by climbing 3,000 feet.
Three years ago, I hiked to the four peaks immediately north of Mount Mitchell, which was an exhausting but spectacular six-mile round trip. This time (Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016—the day after Hurricane Hermine passed), I started on the other end and made the big climb to Celo Knob and its neighbor, Gibbs Mountain. This was a 10.5-mile round trip that took me eight hours. It was the longest hike I've done in a couple of years, and it was worth it to see Mount Mitchell from the other side.
I've had my eyes on Celo and Gibbs ever since I became interested in South Beyond 6,000 (SB6K), a program sponsored by the Carolina Mountain Club that challenges hikers to reach 40 Southeastern peaks over 6,000 feet. By bagging Celo and Gibbs, I have climbed 24 of the 40. In the Black Mountains, the only one I still lack is Winter Star, which will require either the death march or another 3,000-foot climb.
|Like climbing this—4 times.|
Celo (rhymes with Guyot) gets is name from seeloo, the Cherokee word for corn. At 6,327 feet, Celo Knob is the 13th highest mountain in the eastern United States--39 feet higher than New Hampshire's Mount Washington and 327 feet shorter than Mount Mitchell.
Celo was the first peak climbed by Dr. Elisha Mitchell during his 1835 exploration of the Black Mountains that led him to declare these mountains as the highest in the United States.
What's it like to climb 3,000 feet? Imagine four trips up and down the staircases of the tallest building in Charlotte, the 60-story Bank of America tower (which is occasionally visible from Celo Knob, 90 miles away).
If you are interested in following in my footsteps up Celo Knob, you can find details of my hike on my Peakbagger page. And even if you don't feel up to the climb, you can now "walk" the trail on video, thanks to Google Trekker.
Here are some glimpses:
|If Mary knew how rocky it was, she would wisely forbidden this.|
|An interesting old tree along the Crest Trail.|
|Celo Knob's summit isn't that impressive, but ...|
|Mountain ash decked out in reddish-orange berries for the Clemson-Auburn game.|
|I'm always thankful for the volunteers who blaze the way.|
The N.C. High Peaks Trail Association has done a
tremendous job with the Black Mountain Crest Trail.