Alligator Back and Bluff Mountain

Alligator Back and Bluff Mountain

On Sunday, February 2, 2014, in the mountains, the weather was still cold and clear. I went to the Blue Ridge Parkway to attempt to reach the Devils Garden Overlook. I was trying to hike the upper portion of the Mountains to Sea Trail and connect with the lower portion of the same trail that I had hiked from the bottom just the day before. Unfortunately, parts of the Parkway were covered with ice and the Rangers had closed some of the barricades. I could not get to Devils Garden Overlook, so I stopped at Doughton Park and hiked the Bluff Mountain Trail, starting at Alligator Back Cliff.


Parts of the trail were covered with ice that was vicious to hike. This was the worst kind of ice - deep and thick, hard as a rock, smooth as glass, slick as grease and humped up with a convex shape, making it impossible to step on it, even cautiously. At one place while climbing, I was off the trail, in the brush, skirting the ice, and unknowingly stepped on a little island of ice in the woods. I took a slip and fall, catching the broken end of a tree limb on my left wrist and getting a nasty cut.

To add insult to injury, the fall caused one of my two water bottles to fall from of its outer pocket on my pack and it tumbled down the hill. The hill was so steep and the brush so thick that I never found the canteen. Oh, well, I am just out 1/3 of my water, with no place to replenish it. Fortunately, the 2 pints I had left were sufficient.

The rest of the hike was pleasant and not too tough. I hiked from Bluff Mountain to Wildcat Rock. On the way back down the mountain, I passed another hiker going up and got go play Ranger Bob by giving him some trail directions.

Bob Laney

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Bob is the site curator and writer of Blue Ridge Outing. Since starting the Blue Ridge Outing travel blog in 2002, Bob has written, recorded and documented countless expeditions in the US and around the world.