At the Summit of Grandfather Mountain
When early explorers first set eyes on the magnificent mountain along the Blue Ridge that would later be named Grandfather, they were in awe of its peaks and massive granite cliffs and boulders. Nowhere else in the Southern Appalachians was there anything that compared with what they found. Before Dr. Mitchell actually was able to measure the height of the tallest peaks east of the Mississippi, Grandfather was thought to be the highest. Standing over a mile high, it still is the classical form when anyone refers to the perfect mountain in these parts.
Recently I made my first trek up the steep road that takes you almost to the top. What I found was a landscape totally different from anything I have witnessed in all my days here. Canadian forest of firs and spruces abound on the rocky slopes, and at the summit, millions of years of harsh weather have sculpted an other worldly vista, with stunted trees and rock hugging vegetation that might seem more like the high Alps of Europe.
The westerly view toward Sugar Ski Mountain and the infamous Sugartop condominium. After its completion in the 1970’s, a law was passed to protect the ridge tops on all the mountains in North Carolina from development, and nothing has been built since then to spoil the beauty of these wonders of nature.
Looking south toward Mt. Mitchell and the Black Mountain range. On this late May afternoon, the temperature at the summit was 51 degrees with a 35 mph wind blowing from the east. The wind chill was in the 30’s.
Insane hikers braved those high winds to stand atop the highest point.
This winter view of those same peaks shows the majesty that is Grandfather Mountain.