Climbing Bearwallow Mountain at Sunset
At 4,232 ft. above sea level, Bearwallow Mountain stands as the highest peak in the widely-visible Bearwallow Highlands range. Straddling the Eastern Continental Divide, it makes up part of the Blue Ridge Escarpment as well as the western rim of the Hickory Nut Gorge. Crowned with a grassy meadow at its summit, the mountain features a nearly 360 degree view that encompasses some of the southern Appalachian’s highest peaks including Mt. Mitchell in the Black Mountains and Mt. Pisgah in the Great Balsams range. Its breathtaking vista also includes a bird’s-eye view of Hickory Nut Gorge, downtown Hendersonville, and the upstate rolling hills of South Carolina. A historic fire lookout tower occupies the summit, as do grazing cattle who call the mountaintop home.
Last evening, I was part of a Sunset-Moonrise hike to the summit of Bearwallow that was organized by the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy out of Hendersonville, North Carolina. Our rendezvous point was at Bearwallow Gap, just up the road from Grand Highlands, a mountaintop development between Chimney Rock and Hendersonville.
The view from above Grand Highlands is always spectacular.
No wonder so many weddings are held in this lodge.
The view toward Apple Valley is awe-inspiring, no matter the season.
At the summit, the view to the southwest is made all the more dramatic by a cloud bank, and by fog that has settled in the valley.
The view toward the northwest shows the many ridges between Bearwallow and Mount Mitchell.
Back toward the southwest, Hendersonville is nestled in the distant valley.
To the north, US 74A/NC 9 is clearly visible as it crosses the gap at Fairview on its way to Asheville.
Maria, one of the Conservancy’s guides, has a lively conversation as the sun begins its on-time display. The clouds couldn’t have been more cooperative.
It was the perfect evening to enjoy one of nature’s greatest shows.
And Nature didn’t disappoint…
Here, the sun was just touching the farthest mountain ridge west of Hendersonville.
The masses were not disappointed. The simultaneous rising of the “Super Moon” was obscured by clouds, but the one mile climb to the top was well worth the ultimate reward. Perhaps the same journey for the August full moon will be a different story. Stay tuned.