On Sunday of July 23, 2017, I went hiking and picnicking on Mount Mitchell with my hiking buddy Annelise. We started at the main peak parking lot and hiked up the short trail to the observation tower at the top of the mountain at 6,684 feet altitude. The air was cool and a little thin, so we felt the difference in the atmosphere as we hiked.
After that we drove down to the lower end of the parking lot, crossed the picnic grounds and took the Deep Gap Trail down, down and down along the ridge to the north. Then we climbed back over Mount Craig at 6,645 feet to Big Tom at 6,558 feet.
As we hiked along the Deep Gap Trail we kept seeing dark clouds gathering to the northwest, the wind rising and repeated distant thunder. Sure enough, just after we turned around at Big Tom and headed back to the parking lot, the storm hit us. It was a high wind and a cold, stinging rain. I put on my rain suit and even then I was chilly. Annelise did not have a rain suit and she declined my offer to give her my suit. She toughed it out. I was dreading the long, steep climb back to the parking lot, but the storm stirred our adrenaline and we flew up the trail.
When we got back to the picnic grounds we gathered with several other groups of hikers in one of the beautiful stone and wood shelters and shared a lunch. We had wonderful fresh meat and vegetables from the Earth Fare health food store in Asheville. I continued to shiver for about 10 minutes until I warmed up, but Annelise was comfortable in her short sleeve shirt. We gave one of the groups of hikers a ride down the mountain to their car at a lower parking lot.
A good time was had by all!