Grandfather Mountain in Law School

Grandfather Mountain in Law School

Sometime during my first or second year in law school, I am thinking maybe in January 1975, my roommate Jim McKinney and I planned a winter day hike over Grandfather Mountain. Accompanying us were our standard outdoor companions Billy Gardner, (Jim's college suitemate at NCSU) and our NCSU buddy Bruce Frasier, nicknamed Nooksoo, because he always wore an "NCSU" T-shirt (...get looks like it should be pronounced...).

Also along were my younger brothers Frank and James; a girl from UNC law school who was Jim's date, whose name I also forgot; and another girl from NCSU or Meredith who was Nooksoo's date [I think'or did Jim have two dates?].

We spent a cozy several days in my family's cabin at Hope on Shulls Mill Road, Watauga County, before and after the hike. The only heat was a wood and coal burning pot bellied stove in the living room. The bedrooms were so cold as to have frost in them, but we were young and tough and it felt great anyway. The girls were good cooks so we ate hearty.

The main feature of this hike across Grandfather was the heavy ice of various sorts all over the mountain: solid frozen water ice on the trail, rime ice on all the trees, hoar frost in the dirt and snow in the air. We ate lunch on the trail, and it was so cold that we could not take off our gloves. The peanut butter and crackers broke into pieces and we had to eat them off our open palms ' like horses eating grain out of a pail!

Near the top of the first main peak, Calloway, the snow got deep enough that we had a couple of snow ball fights. Jim and Frank exchanged some accidental (or maybe not?) face hits and got into a shoving match. In one of the photos at the top you can see Frank is still scowling.

I have been back on Grandfather Mountain several times since then in similar icy conditions. Each time I found it to be very rough going and memorably tough trips. But for some reason, I have no memory of this 1975 trip being so difficult to traverse the mountain. In all the photos we look like we are having a good time in pleasant circumstances. Were we that much tougher when we were younger? Or does our memory grow rosier as time passes? Either way, a fun time was had by all.

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.