Seeking out the unknown always creates a sense of exhilaration for me. Whether that is the physical limits of my body in an ultramarathon or hiking mysterious trails of a North Carolina mountain – the unknown can definitely be scary. When Zach told me we’d be climbing up to about 6000 ft up Mount Sterling, I knew this wasn’t going to be a quick hike.
At the trail head we loaded up our gear – making sure we had enough water and food for about four hours – and worked our way to Baxter Creek Trail.
Starting out, the trails had just a slight dusting of snow on them; such a nice change from Michigan’s packed iced sidewalks. I immediately noticed how much green was peeking out from the snow in the trees. Tropical looking trees flagged a good portion of the trails at the base of the mountain. After just a few miles of running (or at least trying to run since the ascent was rather rugged) we started dropping layers even though the snow had started to accumulate more and more. Carrying my Fluid 6 Mountain Hardware pack was essential to this hike. Storing my water, food, camera, jacket, and Yaktraxs; I’m not sure what I would have done if I had opted for just a waterbelt.
As we ran further, it was beautiful to watch the “climate” change before our eyes. The trees got thicker and more evergreens seemed to appear. Snow piled up and trees began to look crystalized.
After 2.5 hours of hiking, the elevation was starting to get to me.
The climb seemed to get steeper and the six inches of snow wasn’t helping…but I kept reminding myself, “I’m climbing a mountain!” Once we reached the summit we saw the 60 foot fire tower that marks the top. Amidst the clouds towered stunning evergreens that seemed to disappear into the sky above. I had hiked my first mountain!!!
Have you ever hiked or ran up a mountain?
Any recommendations on ones to visit?
A shout out to Rob for letting me use some of his photos. Can’t wait for our next trip!