Buncombe County Highpoint Trip Report

Potato Knob

Date: April 17, 2001
Author: Patrick Craft

I drove an hour from my house with the goal of bagging a couple of southern sixers, Mount Gibbes and Mount Hallback. I was working on completing the Southern Sixers, an organized program to climb the 40 peaks over 6,000 feet in the southeastern US. I parked on the Blue Ridge Parkway, at the Black Mountain Gap overlook, next to the turnoff to Mount Mitchell State Park. I found the old Boundary trail and headed up Potato Knob, with light snow and wind and the snow getting deeper as I ascended. The Mountains to Sea trail intersects the Boundary trail on the way up. I eventually crested Potato Knob and took a break.

I had a snack and some water but didn't tarry because of the snow and cold. Not much of a view either. I then headed over towards Clingmans Peak, passing a small cabin on the way. At the fence around the towers on Clingmans, I opted to go right (I should have gone left). The fence runs along the edge of a cliff, so I crawled under the fence and walked through the yard. Nobody was in the area. I followed the ridge trail over Mount Gibbes to Steppes Gap and the state park entrance where I went in the office to learn it was 17 degrees with a 30+ mph wind along with the driving snow. I rested and followed the Old Mitchell trail north and bushwhack up Mount Hallback. Didn't stay too long before heading back to the office and heat. I spoke with the ranger a while before heading back to the car on the Commissary and Buncombe Horse trails back to the car.

I drove down the parkway and turned off on NC 80 in order to get gas in Busick. At the country store it was partly cloudy, temp in the high 30's with no wind to speak of. I looked up, saw a ceiling of clouds at about 5000 feet, and thought about the blizzard conditions high above. All this in April!