Notes from the Waxhaws

Head in the clouds

with 7 comments

I made it! I climbed my first mountain…overcoming insurmountable odds I scaled the mighty peak of Mount Mitchell…all 6,684 feet.  And…today at 10:30 AM Eastern time …I was alone at the top…the highest human being east of the Mississippi whose feet still touched the Earth. That is…until about 10 minutes later when a busload of kids noisily made their way up the trail to the top. Oh well…for one brief and shining moment…

The summit

The view from the top was truly spectacular…a 360 degree panorama of mountains for as far as the eye could see. I was surprised to see a stone structure at the top, that turns out to be the final resting place of Rev. Elisha Mitchell, for whom this mountain is named. Mitchell was a Doctor of Divinity, and professor at the University of North Carolina, who was involved in the early exploration and measurement of this mountain. He died on the mountain in 1857, from a fall after being caught in a thunderstorm. I don’t think one could ask for a more impressive memorial.

Elisha Mitchell's Tombstone

The drive up the mountain was stunningly beautiful…in and out of wispy clouds…wildflowers along the sides of the road…the scent of the balsam firs wafting through the air. Stopping at Hewat Overlook, there were clouds above…and clouds below.

Hewat Overlook

Mount Mitchell is in the Black Mountains, which are believed to have been as high, or higher, than the Himalayas at one time, around 250 million years ago. They’re still mighty impressive to a former flatlander from Illinois.

I know that driving three hours to spend a morning in the mountains (and three hours back) might seem a bit strange to some, but it really does help…setting these short term goals is a way of getting my life back on track. While I know that things will never be entirely the same, I”m thinking that it’s probably important to move forward and not dwell in the past.

 As one who was once afraid of heights, I think I did pretty well today. I’m thinking of taking the SB6K (South Beyond 6000) challenge…making it to the top of all 40 mountain peaks higher than 6000 feet in the Southern Appalachians. Hey…I’ve got the highest (and easiest) one done…only 39 more to go!

Soon after I made it to the top this morning, the clouds started looking rather ominous…

Gathering thunderstorm

It was time to get off the mountain. I didn’t want to follow too closely in the footsteps of the Reverend…

Written by Jim

July 31, 2011 at 5:57 pm

7 Responses

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  1. Thanks for sharing this adventure, Jim. And congratulations on your health improvements. I”m very happy for you.


    July 31, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    • Thanks Joe. Of course, i didn’t mention that the parking lot was at an elevation of 6578 feet :)


      July 31, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    • Did the bus load of kids remind you of the good ole days of bus driving……SHUT UP!


      August 10, 2011 at 4:10 pm

      • Holly…I kinda miss those days. I think I knew all 40 or so kids by name. Kinda scary to realize they’re probably all in their thirties by now. Had to wear sunglasses though…so they couldn’t see my eyes watching them in the rear-view mirror!


        August 10, 2011 at 8:12 pm

  2. lol- however you got there I’m glad the vistas lifted you up. Heading up my own mountain (emotionally and literally) today. patti


    August 6, 2011 at 4:19 pm

  3. a far cry from the eskers in IL


    August 10, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    • Ah yes…Esker Williams and Kame and Abel. (a little glacial humor :)


      August 10, 2011 at 8:07 pm

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