Great NC Hike – Up Grandfather Mtn via Boy Scout Trail / Grandfather Mtn Trail

If you are looking for a great hike that is challenging and very, very beautiful then this might just fit the bill. This is probably one of the most technical hikes in NC, but there is view after view after view.

Connie dropped us off on the Blue Ride Parkway and picked us up at the top of Grandfather Mountain, which turned out to be a good thing. There was a lot of traffic on the Grandfather Mtn trail and it was slow going at times. The hike up was about 6 hours.

If you want to do the hike up the mountain only, then you will need to arrange for a ride or have someone pick you up at the top of Grandfather Mountain. If you want someone to pick you up on the top of Grandfather Mountain, you’ll need to buy a pass, well in advance. There are a limited number of parking spots, so they sell passes with a window of time on a specific day to enter the park with a vehicle. You can purchase the pass to Grandfather mountain here. You don’t need to purchase a pass to hike in the park, but you will need a pass to enter the park with a vehicle. Grandfather Mountain does operate a shuttle service up the mountain, but I’m not sure how that works.

Alltrails.com is a great resource for hiking in this area. Click on the image to read about the trail and the hike.

The Daniel Boone Scout Trail portion of the hike is not very technical and the climb is gradual throughout the trail. The first part of the hike is on the Tanawha Trail. The Scout Trail turns right and heads up the mountain after a short hike from the parking lot on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The only gotcha on the Daniel Boone Scout Trail is the trail markings and trail configuration just past the trailhead (leaving from the parking lot on the Parkway). The signage is a little confusing where the Scout trail turns off the Tanawha Trail.

The Grandfather Mountain portion of the trail gets very technical in spots. There are lots of spots where you have to be very careful because of the steep drop offs and slick, or even icy, rocks. There were icy spots during our hike in mid-Oct. There are ladders and very exposed climbs, but it truly is beautiful.

One option to consider is just doing the Grandfather Mountain Trail. You would start at the parking lot near the swinging bridge, and do the trail as an out and back (returning to the parking lot on the top of Grandfather Mountain).

The plane crash site is pretty neat, worth the short detour.
Lots of ladders

2020 NC Overland Challenge – Part 2

The Overland Challenge was a lot of fun! It was held in Uwharrie National Forest (between Raleigh, NC and Charlotte, NC). Portions of the event were also held in Big Creek and Grand Overland District. Outdoor events like this are a great way to minimize the risk of contracting COVID while having a great time.

Here are the rigs in our team. Amazing the Tacoma was almost bone stock! There was some carnage on the Tacoma, but it made it through.

There were a variety of events and lot of 4wheeling, often at a fast pace trying to achieve the objective. It is a great playground that we have to enjoy.

The time trials are where you do a 4wd course for time. So they are moderate speed events that can be hard on your vehicle. Even the mighty full-size Cherokee has some carnage after one of the time trials (tire destroyed and mystery transmission fluid leak). It was a pretty quick fix to change tires and double check the transmission and we were quickly headed to the next event.

There were lots of cool overlanding rigs and setups. Some amazing. Lots of cool off road trailers.

We also put the teardrop to good use. It makes events like this so much easier and comfy.

It was a great weekend. I was very happy with our team performance. We tied for second with the BFG team!

Building our Campsite / Overland Destination – Evening of Day 1

We accomplished a lot on Day 1. Most of the stumps were removed. The brush and logs that were left from the last trip were cut up and pushed into piles on the side of the property. I also was able to start cutting some of the unhealthy trees on the perimeter.

The brush piles are good for the wildlife. They provide shelter for birds like grouse. They also provide places for a momma deer to stash a young fawn while she feeds else where. My wife was pulling brush into a pile (on the previous trip) and suddenly realized the was a fawn tucked away just a few feet from where she was working. We had been working in the area all day and the fawn had been there. We didn’t realize it until Connie saw it.

Tommy (with Bluff Mountain Nursery) started pulling stumps at the bottom and worked his way up the hill
Tommy is working his way up the hill.
Some of the stumps were easier to get out than others. There are 58 stumps to remove
The apple tree in the middle of the property had a bunch of apples on it

The apple tree in the middle of the campsite has been a subject of much discussion. The tree has struggled to survive under a canopy of faster growing Ash and Poplar trees. We cleared the trees that shaded the apple tree earlier in the year. The apple tree has put on a bunch of new growth with the extra sunlight hitting it.

The challenge is that the apple tree is in a spot that it is exposed to vehicular damage so we had to adjust the plans for the driveway to protect the apple tree. When we discussed the tree as a family, the consensus was to cut it down. I was the lone hold out to keep the tree. We’ll need to top the tree next year to keep it healthy and trim away growth that isn’t good for the tree long term.

It is important to note that those green apples are sooooo sour that the deer are even reluctant to eat them. You’ll see an apple on the ground with a couple of bites missing, like the deer tried it and walked away. They are cooking apples, just way too sour to do anything else with.

The saga of the apple tree continues, well see how it goes.

Building our Campsite / Overland Destination – Morning of Day 1

We’re working on the campground. Join us to see how it looks before the heavy equipment arrives.

Where we started. Thanks John Burwell for mowing the grass and cleaning the shoots off the stumps so we could see where they were. That made things to quicker.
Lot of stumps to remove before the new water lines can go in.
The teardrop is so handy for trips like this.
Cool picnic table provided by John Burwell!

Staying safe from Covid-19 While Camping

Thinking about going camping soon? The video below shows how we tried to stay safe last weekend and avoid the Covid virus while we were camping at Grandfather Campground in Banner Elk, NC.

The goal was to not enter the shower or bathhouse. Instead we used our pop up shower tent and portable, propane hot water heater to shower at our campsite. We used our portable poop bucket for those needs.

Stay safe out there!

Pimping the Teardrop Trailer

The teardrop trailer has been a work in process. We’ve wanted to add more capability and storage, but I didn’t want to have a big impact on ground clearance or break over angle. Moving water, propane and the spare tire to the trailer means more space in the tow rig (either or Wrangler TJ or 4Runner).

Another challenge is the 200 lb tongue weight limit on the Wrangler. Once we get everything loaded on the trailer, I can check the tongue weight. I had relocated the battery to the rear of the trailer and that will help off set some of the additional tongue weight that we are about to add.

Items for this round of upgrades:

  • propane tank for use with the oven and especially the shower water heater (which can use a good bit of propane)
  • 2 jerry cans for water or gasoline
  • winch for the spare tire – wanted to tuck the spare tire between the structure so it didn’t have a big impact on the ground clearance and breakover angle
  • go to a larger jack on the tongue so i could use a two wheel roller (this part didn’t turn out like I hoped)

First step was to trip check that the bumper on the tow vehicle wouldn’t hit the jerry cans at the minimum turning circle. That also required a Bojangle biscuit since I was already in the Bojangles parking lot. This was just before the virus hit.

Last check of the clearance when the tow vehicle steering is at the maximum travel
Removing the old jack alignment plate
Ready to start the fabrication process after touching up paint that wouldn’t be affected by welding or grinding

Once we had the lower guide plate for the jack removed we could start verifying the layout of the can holder, tongue jack, propane tank and spare jack.

Important to test fit the location of everything before welding

Next step is to fabricate simple brackets to attach the tank holder. Then the brackets were attached to the tank holder and squared up before welding the brackets to the trailer frame.

Test fitting and aligning the mounting bars for the jerry can racks

One of the challenges was attaching some sort of frame to the front rail of the trailer frame without getting the weld bead too close to the blue skin and causing heat damage to the skin finish.

We also found a structural weld that was not adequate and could have caused a failure on the trail. The tire winch mount is bolted along the top and welded along the bottom. The weld pattern also addressed the frame weld issue and fixed the weak spot with the bad weld.

Support for propane tank is in place and the support for the jack
Propane tank rack in place. It took a little work fit everything in limited space and allow for the motion of the tank closure
Jerry can mounts tacked in place prior to final weld
Now we just need to add the tire winch mount and paint
Winch mount in place and painted. Need to grind and add final welds.
Welds and final paint almost complete
Painted and ready for final assembly
Next step is to add the tank, racks and spare tire

It was a lot of work. It would not have happened without Maverick Metal Works

Once we have the trailer out and outfitted, we’ll take some pictures and show off the new gear.

2019 Uwharrie Jeep Jamboree

We spent two awesome days on the trail. The first day was in Big Creek. Big Creek is tight and technical with lots of rocks and several great hill climbs. We made it up Winch Hill with no problems and lots of smiles from my wife and co pilot. We also finally made it up Perimeter Hill without having to winch. We had tried getting up this hill for 3 years before we made it up without winching. So that was a nice victory.

The second day was doing the D’s in Uwharrie. The D’s are Daniel, Dickie Bell and Dutch John.

Correcting the line created a little drama
Off camber but in a good line
Nice and slow through the second obstacle on Daniel

Hiking the Black Mountain Crest Trail / Mount Mitchell

One of the a whole bunch of amazing views from the trail

Hiking the Black Mountain Crest Trail was awesome. We made it from Bowlens Creek to the summit of Mount Mitchell in a little under 10 hours. Make no doubt, this is a tough hike but the views and the terrain are amazing to see. The hike began at Bowlens Creek. The first 3 hours were 95% climbing. You’ll gain about 3500 feet and come out of the woods on the crest of the ridge at Celo Knob. Celo Knob is where the really beautiful part of the hike begins. At this point you can see the peaks that you will cross over before connecting with the Deep Gap Trail and coming out at the parking lot at the top of Mount Mitchell. During the day you’ll gain almost a vertical mile! This is one of my favorite trails.

Always come prepared, the weather on Mount Mitchell is very unpredictable. Previous time we hiked Mount Mitchell, we faced 40 degrees and rain and high winds on the top after hiking up a warm sunny trail.

Camping Skills – Book 2 of the Montie’s Guide to Camping Series

I’m excited to announce that book 2 of the series is now available. You can get your copy at:

Montie Gear Website

Amazon.com

Written for beginner to semi-seasoned outdoor-enthusiasts, this book delves into how to select gear, effective ways to set up your campsite, safe drinking water, shower options, and more. The word “camping” inspires smiles in many people. Learn how to escape your daily life and create memorable family experiences in the woods.

ISBN # 978-1733596947 

More about the book

The word “camping” inspires smiles in many people. My goal is to show you how to create memorable family experiences in the woods. First off, I’d like to thank you for buying this book. If you’re about to embark on your first camping trip then forge ahead and let me share what I’ve learned over the years. On the other hand, if you’ve camped a few times and are looking for tips on how to be more efficient and accomplished in your future trips, then read on. I always say knowledge weighs nothing. My hope is that you’ll find yourself better informed after reading this book.

This book ships for free to the Continental US only.

About the author:


Allow me to share a little about myself. As a graduate of North Carolina State University, my day job is mechanical engineering specializing in new product development. I was raised in Asheville, NC, where I earned my Eagle Scout award. Growing up, our home was located only a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, so I had many blessed opportunities to spend time outside. My childhood was an exceptional gateway to outdoor adventure for an inquisitive kid with tons of time and a vivid imagination.

As an avid outdoor enthusiast, I’d say my happy place is being in the woods. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to camp in North Carolina, Virginia, and New Mexico. The trip to New Mexico was a ninety mile backpacking trip to Philmont, the famous Boy Scout reservation. These rich experiences have molded me into the man I am today.

My wife and I own land in the mountains near Hot Springs, NC, where we hope to build a cabin sometime over the next couple of years. Until then, Connie and I enjoy tent camping there several times a year.

During the final edit of this book, we camped near Blowing Rock, NC, and hiked the Profile Trail up Grandfather Mountain. What a glorious hike and memorable weekend enjoying tent camping just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I have found that camping is a great way to enjoy nature while keeping your trips inexpensive. When you camp, you save money so you can spread your funds over more excursions and spend more time outdoors—which is a win-win for everybody involved! Just like everyone else who works nine-to-five, I struggle with my work life balance. Throw in family and responsibilities at home, you quickly realize you must carve out time to do what you enjoy.

This book covers a lot of skills and topics that apply to camping in your area and at different stages of life. Camping is a great experience for your family. Hopefully Family Camping (Montie’s Guide to Camping, Book One) helps you escape your daily life and enjoy the outdoors!Sign up for Montie Gear, Inc. newsEmailSubscribe

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